A Problem Solver

The value of an Interdisciplinarian mindset doesn’t come from reading a book about skills and traits one can read from a textbook. The true value of an Interdisciplinarian mindset comes from the understanding of these skills and traits, the understanding of their importance, and the experience of wielding them in a workplace. That alone makes the Interdisciplinary Studies field different than many other areas of study. Rather than be an expert on one particular subject or field, be aware that the individuals around you are experts on a variety of particular subjects and communicate with them. Learn from them and incorporate them. Learn how to work with others who are more educated than you, both formally and informally.

            Similarly, to the hundreds of other fields of study, there are some direct skills involved with maintaining a disciplinarian mindset. Some of these, like other fields of study, can be learned directly from a textbook. However, some are learned through more informal methods such as experience and self-reflection. Some of the direct skills that we learn in a more formal environment include Academic Research, Information Gathering, Outcome Evaluation, and Comparisons of Points-of-View. All of these are solid impactful direct skills in which one can answer, ‘what something is.’ However informal educational sources allow us access to a different set of direct skills that include Communication Skills, Perspective Evaluation, Communicative Competence, and the Exploration of Cause-and-Effect. These more informal skills are key in identifying ‘why something is the way it is,’ and set Interdisciplinarians apart from Disciplinarians when it comes to solving complex issues. Direct skills are often taught to us as ‘how to handle a particular situation,’ whereas transferrable skills teach us ‘how to approach any situation confidently.’

            Transferrable skills are skills that are primarily learned through experience and can be utilized in every situation we ever find ourselves in. These are skills that are utilized in every job, whether it be manual labor, data entry, or rocket science. Some transferrable skills that can be taught through formal education means include Abstract Thinking, Creative Thinking, and Ethical Decision-Making. Each of these skills are fantastic at developing new ideas and approaches to issues that arise in our lives and community. Some of the Transferrable Skills that we learn through a more informal medium include Metacognition, Persistence, and Non-Conformity. Opposite the skills learned via formal education, these skills excel at challenging old ideas and authorities with the end goal of improving them and improving ourselves. This in turn builds confidence with us and our communities which leads to further progress.

            Individuals with only the experience of one discipline tend to have trouble understanding other disciplines and the integration of the two for the greater good. The solution to many of life’s complex issues will come via the integration of various disciplines together. By developing an Interdisciplinary Mindset, I have informally developed my ability to understand my experiences in a different degree, which helps me to form new insights, which promote the creation of new policies or plans of action in order to resolve any issues I may come across. Relative to disciplinary students, Interdisciplinarians excel at integrating their knowledge with that of those around them to find the best solutions. JB.