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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Friday, April 12, 2024
The Echo

The value of a multidisciplinary class load

The importance of diversity of scholarship

From the moment you step onto Taylor’s campus, whether for a campus visit as a prospective or as a new student, you’re immediately greeted with a mountain of ideas centered around intentional community and the value of the liberal arts. 

Many students through the years will be heard singing the praises of intentional community and dorm life, but some lose sight of the value of the liberal arts after they leave Foundations of Christian Thought (IAS 110) , or perhaps it simply becomes a reality that we fail to fully embrace as a student body. Whether the former or the latter is true, the value of a multidisciplinary class load cannot be overstated. 

Kevin Johnson, head of the history, global and political studies department, describes the value of interdisciplinary students through a broadening of perspectives. 

“No matter what your discipline, taking classes outside of your discipline challenges your thinking,” Johnson said. 

As underclassmen become upperclassmen, they typically find themselves taking less and less of the foundational core and more of the classes geared toward their career. While this is a wise choice as we build skills fundamental to individual vocational success, it is also valuable to build a variety of proficiencies. 

Students who regularly take an interdisciplinary load enter the workforce with experience in many processes and perspectives.

As a member of arguably the most interdisciplinary major, global studies, I have experienced looking at the world through a variety of lenses and in the depths of its complexities. It takes all perspectives in order to see anything close to the whole. 

Even as I begin to engage with writing my senior thesis, I have pulled from eight different fields, all of which have contributed to my point in unique ways and supplied a variation of important aspects through different disciplines which come together to form a holistic essay. This can be true not only of a global studies paper, but in the growth of a person’s intellect as well. 

Unifying the ideas and values of many areas come together to cultivate a more well rounded human being. 

Jeff Cramer, associate professor of computer science and major contributor in the foundations curriculum, explained that the liberal arts is more than just skill building. He continues to state that the liberal arts help to free us from focusing on ourselves and instead replace selfish thinking with the orientation toward serving what is good, beautiful and true in Jesus Christ. 

“My life is personally richer for being steeped in the liberal arts and having been exposed to a broader scope of studies,” Cramer said.

As students of a liberal arts university, it is important not to lose sight of the value of our well-rounded education, even if it doesn’t feel immediately applicable to our field. 

So many fields are constantly growing and changing, and as Amber Stanley, assistant director of calling and career, once explained to me, we will likely hold jobs one day that have yet to be created. That being said, diversity of skills is invaluable as well as attractive to employers, and we can attain all the more in a multidisciplinary load. 

As we enter into Taylor’s 175th anniversary, it is important to reflect upon the value of the education that we are receiving at this institution, including one of the most undervalued aspects, the multidisciplinary nature of the liberal arts.