Addressing the challenges of today’s world demands going beyond the limits of specialized knowledge production and transmission to create new forms of understanding and expertise. Tackling health, environmental, ethical and political challenges requires the ability to consider multiple aspects of the same issue, to work with experts across disciplines and to integrate disparate bodies of knowledge.
Duke’s approach to liberal arts education, research and teaching gives students opportunities to become experts in traditional disciplines while simultaneously exploring broad themes of study, which often cut across disciplines, departments and methods.
Here are just a few examples of how undergraduates, graduate students and faculty are engaging in interdisciplinary education at Duke:
Throughout high school in Clermont, Florida, Michelle Khalid had two clear goals: get into Duke, and become a doctor. Thrilled to be accepted to her dream school, she started on her path. But she was drawn to an interdisciplinary program that changed everything. “It taught me so much about who I am—it’s truly one of those college moments when you find something you’re so passionate about.”
“I deeply believe that the best innovations come out of synergies between what might seem like very disparate fields,” says Raghav Saboo, a master’s student in Economics. “My advice is to make the most of opportunities to pursue interdisciplinary work at Duke.” He worked with faculty and students from numerous schools to develop a tool to track energy use at the Duke Smart Home.
Professor Deborah Rigling Gallagher partnered with a cultural anthropologist and an ecologist to lead an interdisciplinary project team that explored environmental justice and community health issues in a disadvantaged neighborhood in Dallas. The team examined links between ecology, redevelopment and health and defined options for addressing health disparities and revitalizing the neighborhood.