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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA needs more support for Interdisciplinary study

There is no superior reason to go to college, but many students go out of a desire to expand their minds and learn about the world outside the bubble they grew up in.

Interdisciplinary study is a crucial step in allowing students to do just this.

For the majority of students — I hope — at least one of their main college goals is to become educated. Being educated means knowing at least a little bit about a lot of stuff. 

Being extremely knowledgeable in a very specific subject is no easy feat, and should not be looked down upon, but the whole world is not comprised of one subject and being well-rounded can only have a positive effect on your life.

The rigidity of UA not allowing non-majors into certain courses — without having to jump through myriad, time-consuming hoops — is a practice that’s not in the best interest of students. We are here to learn, we are here to be educated, we are here to explore our interests and possibilities.

When you’re locked out of classes simply because they aren’t in your major or focus area, it’s counterproductive to the university’s duty to provide Arizona with a fresh batch of intelligent, well-rounded and capable citizens.

If I were a computer science major, there is no way I could justify that a theater course would be relevant to my major. But perhaps theater is a passion. Or maybe I know nothing about the world of theater and I want the chance to get into it and learn about it. Unfortunately, gaining entry into an upper-division theater course as an upperclassmen computer science major is difficult, infeasible too.

The pressure is immense for people between the ages of 18 and 22 to decide what they are going to do with the rest of their lives. Many of us can barely decide where to eat lunch — there is no way all of us are capable of picking a very specific subject area and sticking to it for the rest of our lives.

If we do not take a few courses that are outside of our specific areas of study, we are closing ourselves off not only from being well-educated members of society, but also by limiting our options for a future career switch.

Students seem to feel trapped in their major. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard a comment such as; “Oh yeah, I think architecture is so interesting, but I can’t take a class on it because I’m a creative writing major.”

Don’t limit your students, UA. Make being well-rounded a better option, and create enough sections of each course to allow non-major students to take courses in subject areas besides their own. 

College ought to set students free to explore not one, but multiple interests.

UA often makes double-majoring and/or partaking in interdisciplinary studies unnecessarily difficult. As a double major student in neuroscience and philosophy, I am often asked how those two areas could possibly be related. In reality, they could not be more related. The cognitive science track in the neuroscience program includes many studies of the philosophy of mind, while the ethics track in the philosophy degree is highly intertwined with the medical ethics that must be studied to become a respected neuroscientist.

It is difficult to double dip, coordinate courses and earn both degrees in the most efficient way possible.

If interdisciplinary studies were more publicized, less difficult to take part in and had greater support from multiple departments across the UA, a new door would be opened for a plethora of students looking to broaden their horizons by delving into a multiplicity of studies. As of now, that door is cracked open an inch or two, but with increased cooperation between all the different departments, the door could easily be pushed wide-open and increase the quality and value of education UA students are receiving.

Follow Talya Jaffe on Twitter.

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