Graduate students want to solve ‘evil problems’. Are universities delivering?

Climate change. Social inequality. Civic responsibility. The major concern of our time “Wicked problem”- Complex challenges that have no clear disciplinary boundaries and require a unique, interdisciplinary approach to both a meaningful framework and address.

Young scholars may need to be trained to address them. “Wicked students, ”To use the words of Paul Hansted, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Washington & Lee University. Degree education – with its specialization, close access to faculty members, and opportunities for in-depth learning – should help in this type of interdisciplinary training. However, this is not usually the case. Instead, quite often, degree education provides room for a systematic exclusion of almost breadth; Develop experts who are different and disconnected from those who can meaningfully connect with others and have the skills to achieve common goals.

The first step in dealing with these tensions is to add some of these claims to the student-side data in the equation. Do graduate students want to pursue interdisciplinary goals on their own and become “evil”?

They certainly do!

In the last two years, College Impact Laboratory A survey of incoming PhDs at Ohio State University. Students in all disciplines – who will be the next generation of researchers, scientists and leaders. When final year students (n = 98) were asked if they expected their Ph.D. discip4..8 per cent agree or strongly agree, a program to give them meaningful opportunities to work in all subjects. This year (n = 120) the trend has intensified, with 85.9 percent agreeing and strongly agreeing.

Those who intentionally pursue interdisciplinary Ph.D. Programs have considered them transformative. For example, one student enrolled in a federally administered interdisciplinary program Decarbonizing energy systems Told us to face other disciplinary approaches “hits [them] Too hard “and” reconsidered “them [their] Place on some ideas. Another student stated that interdisciplinary work “changed my thinking … from a multi-sectoral perspective” which helped them to synthesize in the body of knowledge and to see other aspects of the problems they worked on. Which previous studies suggest More innovative solutions And More powerful cognitive development.

Despite these advantages, academic structures continue to pose barriers to interdisciplinary research in favor of traditional one-disciplinary approaches. Compared to traditional research, interdisciplinary research is done regularly Get less funding And was published in Inferior academic journals.

In addition, there is no guarantee that practitioners who do interdisciplinary work will be fully understood or valued by their home department colleagues. In the highly competitive world of academic research, this may help others to compete with you or cause your colleagues to reject your tenure. This is not surprising, then, to many untrained educators See interdisciplinary colleagues as dangerous For his career.

Yet, in an age of increasing expertise, future experts seem thirsty for a broader perspective. So what can universities do to provide interdisciplinary experiences in the hope of helping to develop “bad students”?

One possible solution is to get a Ph.D. Programs that are interdisciplinary, such as those sponsored by the National Science Foundation Integrated Graduate Education and Research Trainee Programs Such programs, when purposely designed, can offer the benefits of showcasing traditional subjects while also attracting and capitalizing on students’ interdisciplinary interests.

Another option is for universities to create programs that offer training and funding Create organic interdisciplinary partnerships To meet the needs in their area. This may include opportunities for students to work on transdisciplinary teams while acquiring skills to fund internal and external stakeholders and to consider ideas. The third option is to add interdisciplinary options to the general Ph.D. Coursework that will allow natural scientists to engage deeply with social and behavioral sciences or humanity, and vice versa.

On a direct level, we wonder: what if each student in our sample – who approximately 86 percent of those who want such experience – needed a single course focused on taking advantage of their expert approach to overcome a community, environmental or technical challenge? No matter the approach, it is imperative that our universities find a way for researchers to graduate with interdisciplinary skills and perspectives.

We do not know what future challenges lie ahead, but we do know that one day they will come. When they do, you need to have trained experts who are able to look at many aspects of the problem and who can effectively address the issues in history, culture, identity and – crucial – issues.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *