Identifying Interdisciplinary Courses (IDC) to meet Doctoral Requirements

An Example of an Institutionally & Curricularly (Over-?) Sensitive Profiling Instrument

Edward G. Rozycki, Ed. D.
Coordinator of Doctoral Programs, 1999-2009
Center for Education, Widener University (ret.)
RETURN edited 11/25/12
 The following conditions will be necessary to acknowledge a course as an IDC:
1. It must be a graduate level course. (Forestalls mixing levels, optimizes tuition income)
2.The course under consideration cannot already be a required course in the given doctoral
program. (Forestalls "double-dipping," optimizes tuition income)
1.The profile of the IDC will be consonant with the (aims, philosophy, traditions) of (institution). (This kind of statement solicits administrative and trustee support.)
2. Knowledge of the department in which a course originates is not sufficient to either include or exclude it to as being an interdisciplinary course. (A pre-emptive political consideration)
3. Being a course which exemplifies a single profiling characteristic is not sufficient to either include or exclude it to as an interdisciplinary course.  (Also dissuades favoritism across departments.)
Some Possible Positive Profiling Characteristics
1. The course is a survey course. Examples: Eastern civilization. folklore. comparative education,art history, modern grammars, history of psychology, modern geometries
2. The course is multiparadigmatic in theory or methodology. Examples: theories of child development, theories of adult development, learning theory, organization theory, social theories, theories of culture.
3. The course enhances critical thinking. Examples: perspectives on the theory of ..., informal logic, theories of evaluation, ethics, philosophy of science, philosophy of psychology, philosophy of economics, critical thinking.
4. The course is broadly applicable across fields. Examples: principles of Law, physics for non-mathematicians, theories of management.
5. The course encourages synoptic thinking. Examples: patterns of culture, social theory, art history, music history, the idea of progress in western civilization.
6.The course encourages analytic thinking. Examples: organization theory, modern grammars, mathematical modeling for the social sciences.
7. The course is a theory course.

Some Possible Negative Profiling Characteristics
1. The course is technically too specific. Examples: acoustics, sentential logics, Middle High German manuscripts, Rorschach interpretation, Stefan Georg and the 20th century, C+ programming.
 2. The course is career focused. Examples: middle school administration, physical plant management, epidemiology, Rorschach interpretation, auditory testing. (This could easily be a positive characteristic in some programs.)
3. The course is  ideologically restrictive or orthodox: Zen in your life, devotional readings for Methodists, psychoanalytic interpretation of dreams. (Possibly, also, a positive.)
4. The course does not involve much higher level thinking. Examples: reducing your golf hook, advanced calisthenics, flower arranging, controlling your weight.
5. The course is an applications course. Examples: writing across the curriculum, intermediate piano, advanced lifeguard techniques, computer repair. (Possibly, also, a positive.)

KEY: 1= not at all; 2 = not very; 3 = not clearly; 4 = somewhat; 5 = very much

Characteristics (possibly) Favoring Acceptance of the Proposed Course
The course:
   1. is a survey course.         
   2. is multiparadigmatic in theory or methodology.

   3. enhances critical thinking.

   4. is broadly applicable across fields.

   5. encourages synoptic thinking

   6. encourages analytic thinking

   7. is a theory course

Characteristics (possibly) Favoring Rejection of the Proposed Course
The course: 1
   8. is technically too specific

   9. is too career focussed.

   10. is ideologically restrictive or orthodox.

   11. does not involve higher order thinking.

   12. is an applications course.