When coming in to Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies, I honestly did not understand how a whole course could be filled with creating a degree program. Soon after starting the course, I came to realize this course offered so much more than creating a degree program. Before setting foot into this class, I could not define nor did I understand the concept on interdisciplinarity. As the course progressed through the semester, my understanding of an interdisciplinary education versus a disciplinary education grew. Even further than the difference between these two educations, I gained understanding of the many struggles that many interdisciplinarians and interdisciplinary programs have.
During my exploration of building my degree program, I finally understood what it means to have academic freedom. This is where I was able to decide what I should study in reference to my interests in a way that would be most beneficial to me. This concept of academic freedom is at the heart of most interdisciplinary programs, and, in my opinion, should be at the heart of all education. Throughout my exploration in this course, I was also able to fully understand the concept of unity of knowledge. Within the aspect of this concept, I am able to learn as much as possible in each course I take and apply the knowledge to future courses and professional opportunities.
With these benefits and more also comes hardships. Within this course we read many pieces that elaborate on the barriers of interdisciplinary studies. One of these pieces called, “Barriers to Interdisciplinary Research and Training” exemplifies many of the obstacles I have faced in my short career of being an interdisciplinarian. One huge barrier I face almost on a daily basis is a communication barrier. Many people are very unaware of what exactly interdisciplinary studies is, so my knowledge in any given field is undermined because the other party does not understand that I study in multiple fields at any given time. Since there is a lack of recognition of interdisciplinary fields, we as interdisciplinarians are finding it very difficult to be taken seriously in any given professional or academic fields.
Being interdisciplinary is very important in all aspects of life. I have found my interdisciplinary studies to be beneficial in my university experience because I am taking many different classes that allow me to hone in to different skillsets that I was unaware I had and that will be beneficial to my future professional career. Being multifaceted within the professional world especially will put me in high demand for jobs. I am able to show that I have many different skills that can be tailored to what each job entails, and by showing my versatility, companies will see me as an excellent addition to their team. With these benefits stated, my hope for the future of academia is that the traditional education will expand their horizons to incorporate a more interdisciplinary approach to academics. Interdisciplinary studies provides students their own voice in an education system that has lacked students’ voices for way too long. Once interdisciplinarity is more heavily incorporated into education, my hope is that the recognition within professional fields will increase as well. These two future hopes hinge on each other, but with the increasing advocacy for interdisciplinarity, these hopes should be achievable in the near future.
With all this being said, cheers to all the interdisciplinarians who have come before to make such an incredible program possible, and with this gratitude in mind, I will express my full support of interdisciplinarity in any situation suitable.
The article I read for this week, “Interdisciplinarity: Suffering from a Lack of Effective Marketing?”, contains a lot of information pertaining to the disciplinary and interdisciplinary contrast. The article starts off my by defining a discipline and the certain elements that make up disciplines. A great analogy explaining an importance of a discipline states, “In contemporary times, disciplines are to academic institutions what taxes and death are to living; they are unavoidable.” The article continues to try to define what interdisciplinary studies is. With this exploration, the article discusses how interdisciplinarity is much more than just involving two or more disciplines. An interdisciplinary education is described as, “involves disciplines but only as a resource for the reconstruction of the interdisciplinary findings into a new perspective.” The article continues to discuss how interdisciplinary education is becoming a separate discipline in itself. The article discusses how interdisciplinary is actually a discipline by applying elements to the working parts of the discipline definition, such as procedures for gathering evidence, identifying the correct research question(s), integrated synthesis, recognized community of scholars, academic journals, conferences, and funding. As established by the majority of this article, interdisciplinary is not easily defined therefore the concept as a degree program could cause great confusion when trying to be marketed. The article concludes by stating the need to identify a need in the market place, meet it, and focus on untapped markets.
One quote that stuck out to me is as follows:
“Cross-functional integration that focuses on problem-based education is needed in our current landscape of globalization, rapid technical advancements and the use of big data (large amounts of data from diverse sources)”
This quote was important throughout my thinking during my reading. I purposefully came to the Interdisciplinary program due to the idea that I could target real life problems and build my degree program in order to solve these issues. With the freedom of choosing my courses for my degree program, I feel that none of my education is going to waste because I will use this information in my professional future. This article definitely illustrated some of the confusion I felt when told about the Interdisciplinary program. I first heard about the program through an administrator at the college who I was inquiring to about a completely different degree program. Even though their explanation was not completely clear, it was still intriguing enough for me to seek out more information. Luckily I had the resources to explore the concept of Interdisciplinary, but if those resources were not available to me, I would have missed out on the outstanding education I am receiving. Throughout reading this article, I was able to recall my experience, but also reflect on how many other students’ education are suffering due to the lack of knowledge about this amazing program they have right at their fingertips. I hope in the near future, we, as an Interdisciplinary program, can extend the word about this education so there is less confusion and more support.
This week’s reading, “Barriers to Interdisciplinary Research and Training” detailed some of the key concerns and obstacles faced within any interdisciplinary work. Although this article did detail the obstacles particularly associated with interdisciplinary scientific research, the barriers are extremely common throughout any profession. The biggest challenge I have faced throughout my interdisciplinary journey, as well as one I anticipate to face within my professional career is communication. Even just trying to communicate with professors in order to build my degree program was a struggle due to the lack of understanding of their preferred channel of communication is different than another professor’s.
Little elements or preferences in communication, such as a channel used, could cause the work to not get done correctly or at all. As the article mentions, the language between disciplines or professions might be very similar but mean completely different things. In order to overcome this barrier, the article states, “An extensive effort must be made to learn the language of another field and to teach others the language of one’s own.” The language used between fields needs to be clarified in order to create a greater understanding for the interdisciplinary group work. Often times, people are not willing to go that extra mile in order to properly communicate or even ask for clarification.
As an aspiring event planner and manager, I love to emphasize the importance of communication in all aspects of my life. Especially in events, communication is one of the main determining factors of whether or not the event will be successful. While being in an event coordinating position, one would have to contact the appropriate people such as the lighting company, catering company, and so on. With this responsibility, the coordinator has to make sure their communication is very clear and concise in order to reach the exact image they are trying to create. In order to give a clear image, a coordinator would have to understand each industries’ language since it is bound to change with each professional. Also, a coordinator would have to seek understanding if another party’s communication was lacking. As an event planners, we want to make sure our clients and audience are receiving the experience that they want and deserve.
Communication is not necessarily a skill we learn properly throughout our lives. Many of us lack the skills to properly communicate our thoughts or even needs. Before even choosing to pursue my degree program in Event Management and Planning, I made a conscious effort to increase the effectiveness in all of my communication, especially when working with more than one other person. By making this a point of emphasis in my entire life, I have reduced on the amount of tension and frustration that typically comes with working in groups. These communication skills take a great deal of effort into building and executing, but the time and effort put into communicating at first will save time and effort later on down the road when mistakes need to be fixed.
Coming from a student who has continuously struggled with the conventional educational system, I advise as many students as possible to look into an interdisciplinary education. Unfortunately, like many other students, I have developed a negative mentality around any general education. In the journal we read for today, “Interdisciplinary Education: A Reflection of the Real World”, it states that students are finding classes irrelevant if the curriculum fails to make the connection between the concepts and skills learned and real-world problems. This statement could not have described my feelings any better. During my high school and early higher educational careers, I often found classes to be irrelevant because I could not transfer or apply the knowledge to anything I was remotely interested in. I finally found the Interdisciplinary Studies program which allowed me to tailor my major into something that I truly am interested in.
The interdisciplinary educational journey is one that will have lasting effects in many future goals. When first looking at an interdisciplinary education, most students will see that classes are pulled from multiple disciplines to form a degree program that is logically tailored to their interests, but an interdisciplinary education is so much more than just building your own degree program. An interdisciplinary education provides students an opportunity to express their creativity in ways they could not have imagined with a traditional education. Along with their expression of creativity, students will learn how to think critically in many situations where their knowledge from all different disciplines can be applied. As I could see these first two skills developing long before I even was accepted into the Interdisciplinary Studies program, I had no idea that my interdisciplinary education could foster even more skills than these two as well as continuously building upon each skill as I further my education. A couple more skills that have surprisingly emerged during my official beginning of interdisciplinary education are collaboration and communication. The amount of times that I have asked my advisors and peers for their input and suggestions is mind-blowing. I have never thought that my collaboration skills would have gotten better through this program, or even the importance of this skill when being applied in the professional world. Communication is another skill that is greatly underestimated in education, but is extremely important when it comes to your future career. The amount of communication I have had to have between my advisors as well as in group work is outstanding, but the work put into the communication has helped further my ability in this skill set.
Although these skills that come out of an interdisciplinary education are great, the sheer emotional connection to your education is worlds apart from any traditional education’s capability. As a student, having any say in your educational program’s requirements is slightly liberating, but having say over an entire degree plan is completely liberating for any student. While you could be spending time and money on a degree that is already laid out for you, how devoted would you actually be to that degree? The ownership that is felt over any class you pick makes you that much more devoted as a student.
When I found the Interdisciplinary Studies program, I found where I was supposed to further my education. With this great option of personalizing my education, I could see no other degree for me. My degree program finally got accepted a few short weeks ago and I could not be more excited to continue my interdisciplinary journey through my senior year as well as in my professional life. In my previous education, I never felt like I was living up to my potential, like a flower bud, but now that I have determined my own educational path I feel like my potential is in full bloom. From one student to another, I hope you find where you bloom to the fullest.
Every year, Plymouth State puts together one of the largest events on campus, Spring Fling. This is a weekend full of activities that focuses around one big concert. Some activities include battle of the bands and even a rave. To put on one of the biggest events on campus means to collaborate across multiple disciplines.
When looking at the development of this event we can see the many disciplines involved. During the lead up months before the event, management is prevalent since each element such as the location, advertisements, food and beverages, technology, and finances. Management is critical to the success of any event because there has to an overseer of all the disciplines that are collaborating together in order to make the event successful. After management, marketing is another major business discipline involved. Marketing for Spring Fling is essential to the success for the event. If the event is not marketed correctly to the students, then the whole Spring Fling weekend would essentially be a bust.
Hospitality is another huge discipline that is involved with planning such an event as Spring Fling. Hospitality in the element of catering and sometimes even the location in some events. Pertaining to Spring Fling, providing food and beverages might be provided by local venders or even the campus venders, but either way the logistics of how many people need to be fed and what kinds of food and beverages need to be addressed in order to provide a successful event. Another discipline that would be planned out closer to the event would be the technological needs. Technology in this event speaks to the stages necessities such as lighting, sound, and cameras in order to stream a concert on a large screen. Both hospitality and technology are very important disciplines to be considered closer to the event, but are equally as important to the success of Spring Fling as the business disciplines.
Just examining the few disciplines that we did while taking look at Spring Fling just emphasizes why I would like to manage and plan such events. Behind each event is a mass collaboration between so many different disciplines, which can create a very interactive and creative work environment. The interdisciplinarity within this career field condones for a work place that could not possibly become boring due to the many subjects that are constantly passing through our minds and the work. The next time you see an event no matter what size, try to acknowledge the amount of collaboration done behind the scenes.
The Interdisciplinary Studies program here at Plymouth State University is the main reason why I chose to come to Plymouth as a student. I consider myself to be an untraditional student in the aspect that I graduated high school a year early in order to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Upon my early graduation, I decided to enroll into online classes while working full time. The typical four-year college atmosphere never appealed to me, especially with rigid degree plans. After taking most of my general education courses, I decided to start looking for a degree that would nourish my interest in event management. Although there are event management programs all over the country, there are not many programs offered close to my New Hampshire home. While looking at my options at various local colleges and universities, I was guided towards Plymouth’s Interdisciplinary Studies Degree. I decided to further explore this option with a visit during an open house last Fall. This is guaranteed to be one of the best decisions of my life.
When exploring the Interdisciplinary program here at Plymouth, I was able to meet with students who were already in the program as well as the Chair of the program. To see their energy and motivation for learning was a tell-tale sign that this degree program was not one of
the typical boring ones I have become accustom to. When I left Plymouth State after the open house, I was overflowing with ideas and motivation to further my higher education. After that one day, I sat down and planned out my entire degree without even being accepted into the program. The planning process for my degree has been under revisions ever since. Although Plymouth’s Interdisciplinary Studies program has you lay out a plan of courses to take in your major, the command and value you have in developing your own degree program is outstanding.
Personally, this program turned higher education from being a means to an end in order to get a decent job to being a means to fuel my passion. I have previously changed my major from Psychology to History to Business before settling at Plymouth. All these previous majors had nothing to do with anything I wanted to do pertaining to a career. Even comparing what I was thinking my program could be a Plymouth to the rest of the event management programs across the country, I realized that no other degree would cover all the topics that I thought to be relevant to the program.
Reading Carly’s article “Standing Alone”, I have realized that while our Interdisciplinary programs may be completely different in academic terms, the ideology behind these programs are very similar. She illustrates in her writing:
“With metacognation, you are able to take your mind out of society’s views and have your own views. You can be your own self and that is who you should want to be most! Because at the end of the day, your opinion and your thoughts matter, and you need to make those important to you before they are important to anyone else.”
This statement embodies why I feel so powerfully about my Interdisciplinary program. With an interdisciplinary approach, the students are allowed to express their opinions in academic focuses that are most interesting to them. We build our Interdisciplinary degrees for our personal benefit and interests, but there are other people out there that may have similar interests and will be inspired by what we are doing to our academic pathways. By allowing students to have control over their degree with a little guidance from academic advisors, students are more motivated behind their learning and ultimately want to nourish and grow their education of their interests.
With my love of the Interdisciplinary program so apparent, my peers, professors and especially my parents could not dial down my excitement. Each and every person that has thoughtfully listened to my passionate rant about how great the Interdisciplinary program is has noticeably gotten enthusiastic about their own learning whether it be academically or professionally. The passion that is associated with building a degree plan filled with one’s own interests is liberating in a time where academic rigidness dominates. The Interdisciplinary program has helped me as an academic become increasingly passionate about my focus, and I, in turn, swoon over the program to my peers which intrigues them to check out their possibilities as well.
My Interdisciplinary Studies program is Event Management and Planning. My program’s goal is to provide me with a wide variety of skills needed to manage and plan many different events of different calibers. I have explored many different degree programs that have been called Event Management programs or had an event managing element, such as Hospitality Management programs. These programs had some elements that appealed to me, but no program had all the elements that I would have wanted in an Event Management degree. While taking these other degree programs into consideration and the diverse education that Plymouth offers, I decide to enroll in the Interdisciplinary Studies Program. I drew inspiration from various sources such as the University of New Hampshire’s Hospitality Management degree as well as Plymouth’s Tourism Department. Throughout my search, Plymouth’s Tourism Management and Policy came into sight, but this did not offer an event planning and management focus option. My program is made up of many different elements from the Business Department to the Theatre Department, Social Sciences Department, and even the Arts Department. Bringing many of these elements together to build an Event Management degree was not an easy task, but these elements will allow me to be set apart from others in this career field.
The first department that I pulled courses from is the Business Department. I transferred EC2500: Principles of Economics in from my previous higher education. This course is beneficial to my degree program because an understanding of economics and the economy is useful for any industry especially for Event Management and Planning due to the interaction with distributors. This interaction would rely heavily on that status of the economy with such elements as inflation and recessions. I am also taking BU2450: Principles of Marketing in order to understand the marketing of a brand and business. This course will be beneficial to my degree program because the concepts will help me as a manager and hopefully business owner to understand the dynamics of marketing my brand professionally and personally. Another Business course I will be taking is BU3370: Branding and Marketing Communication. This course will be beneficial in order to understand how to make a brand stand out through marketing in an industry where marketing is the main communication with consumers. The last Business course I will be taking is BU3350: Event Marketing. Although the title is very self-explanatory for this program, I will be taking it in order to understand how to promote events to an audience that will be beneficial to the event and brand. Business and marketing are very influential in Event Management and Planning due to the amount of consumer interaction in this industry.
The second department I pulled courses from is the Theatre Department. I chose some Theatre courses due to their focus on management and planning for theatre events. The first Theatre course I chose is TH2200: Stage Management/Arts Management. This course is going to be crucial in understanding the planning and management needed for a stage production. The second Theatre course I chose is TH2500: Stagecraft Fundamentals. This course will be beneficial to my program due to the knowledge of planning and budgeting of materials as well as design of the stage that will be gained. The last Theatre course I chose is TH3300: Design for the Theatre. This course will be useful due to the gained understanding of the design of various elements such lighting and scene design. Although these courses address theatre design, the elements that are learned in these courses can be easily transferred into the design of any event to be aesthetically pleasing.
The next department I pulled courses is from the Social Science Department. I mainly pulled Tourism courses, but I did chose to take AN2210: Cultural Anthropology as well. This course will be valuable because a comprehension of cultures from around the world is necessary in this industry in order to work with international clients as well as international events. Diving into Tourism course, I first chose to take TMP2860: Introduction to Hospitality Management. This course will be useful in the understanding of the management of hospitality which works closely with event management and planning especially with conferences, meetings, and weddings. The second Tourism course I chose is TMP3100: Lodging Operations Management. This course will be favorable because of such close interaction between lodging operations and event management and planning. This course will give me an awareness of the operations that I will be dealing with during my event management career. The next Tourism course I chose is TMP3000: Topics in Hospitality and Tourism Management. I will be taking this course in the Spring of 2017 when the topic of Cultural and Heritage Tourism is covered. This topic will be valuable in the aspect of the knowledge gained about this tourism due to the fact that most areas where events are held are known for New Hampshire culture or heritage. The last Tourism course I chose is TMP3750: Tourism Marketing Analysis. This course will be important for the insight gained of what attracts visitors to events as well as the understanding of how to make events more appealing. These Social Sciences courses will be an integral part of interacting with others in the Event Management and Planning industry.
The last major department I pulled courses from is the Art Department. The first course I chose is AG2330: Introduction to Graphic Design Software. This course will be important to my comprehension of the vital design information due to the fact that there are very limited graphic design resources in most places, so I will need to know how to use graphic design in order to better the promotion and resources for the events I am helping with. The second course I chose is AG3050: Digital Multimedia Design. This course will allow me gain knowledge of how to use such resources as websites in order to promote and update events that I could possibly be managing and planning. These two element of digital design will help me be more aware of what needs to be done in order to reach a broader audience in the technological world. I also chose a course out of the Communications department. The course I chose is CM3670: Journalism. I chose this course as my WRCO as well as to gain knowledge on how to write about events professionally in order to keep the audience informed.
As established above, my Interdisciplinary Studies program of Event Management and Planning is very interdisciplinary due to the various disciplines I am using in order to create my program. There is a good balance between the artistic and logical management of events as well as the rational management and marketing of events. By drawing from a wide variety of disciplines, I will have a greater understanding of how to manage and plan events from various angles, such as from a business angle as well as a theatre angle. My program also provides me with useful tools to better my abilities as well as to be a versatile element to any team. This program will allow me to set myself apart from other applicants within my career field. Along with pursuing a Hospitality Certificate and Photography Minor, the mere process of building my own degree program will speak about the kind of academic and professional person I am. The amount of variety in my program will also speak about how versatile of a worker I am. Hopefully, the Event Management and Planning program will open doors in every direction for the career I pursue.
In order to better understand one discipline within my interdisciplinary degree, I was fortunate enough to meet with Professor Adam Keul, Assistant Professor of Tourism Management and Policy. I chose to interview Professor Keul because of the enlightenment I might find hearing from a professional who has dealt with the tourism industry and studied the industry. As an Event Management concentration, I find hospitality to be a very important part of the tourism industry as a whole.
Talking with Professor Keul, I found out that we came from completely different backgrounds. Although he teaches all Tourism courses, he studied Geography as a discipline and part of a multi-disciplinary degree. Professor Keul’s Master’s degree is an interdisciplinary degree in Geography, History, and Forestry, and then continued in Geography with his PhD although his PhD was concentrated in cultural geography or, in other words, tourism geography.
We continued to discuss his research which currently entailed a trip to Colorado this past summer to study cannabis tourism with fellow Plymouth State professor, Bryon Eisenhauer. When further discussing his research and career, I asked him what his favorite part about his work. Professor Keul replied:
“My favorite part about my research is just learning about places, I mean, that’s why I am a geography because I love to learn about places and I love places, so since tourism is about selling places, it’s a perfect fit for a geographer, somebody that loves places.”
Hearing this come from a professional already in my field of interest, just increases my interest and reaffirms my certainty in my major of Event Management. When asked about whether a lot of geography is incorporated into a tourism degree Professor Keul replied that geography is the second most influential discipline behind business on the tourism degrees. We continued to discuss how multiple disciplines have influences on various majors as well as interact with one another in the professional sense as well.
Me: “In what ways do you work with other scholars outside of your field, other than, obviously, research?”
Professor Keul: “Yeah, I mean, that and then, well outside of geography, I interact with everybody else around here that’s not geographers, which you only have a few geographers. So like I’m writing the cannabis tourism piece with Bryon who’s a sociologist, so there’s that, but then there’s like the trials of the occupation itself. So like meeting other people who are academics, I can talk about things like program development, attracting majors, grad school, undergrad education, things that aren’t specific to my discipline. In the same way that you were a plumber you could talk to an electrician about all kinds of things that you share that aren’t necessarily just about you two getting together and building a house. That might be the metaphor of the day.”
This metaphor struck home with me in the sense of explaining how multiple disciplines can work together to build something that incorporates elements of both disciplines, like an interdisciplinary major does. When having this great conversational interview with Professor Keul, I realized that although we come from very different backgrounds, him as a very highly educated geographer with experience in what seems to be almost everything and then there is me who has had very limited experience in the tourism industry other than being an unaware consumer, there are many elements from various disciplines that we are both very open to learn about in order to better ourselves educationally and professionally. Talking with Professor Keul about his very interdisciplinary education throughout the higher educational experience has confirmed that an interdisciplinary education is one of the best ways to become a well-rounded individual professionally, educationally, emotionally, and social.