In Support of Multidisciplinary Models: Part 2 I Oxford Open Learning

In Support of Multidisciplinary Models: Part 2

In Part 1, I discussed how we artificially divide up areas of human knowledge to our own detriment. In Part 2, I will look at ways in which we can create a society that looks beyond these classifications towards a multidisciplinary world.


Perhaps the logical place to begin this epic untangling of divisions is in the education system. Schools are a place where subjects exist, almost pathologically, in isolation from each other. An expert who is educated only in their own subject explains their knowledge, before children are passed to the next expert. Physics, biology and chemistry are often separate subjects. Children are not often challenged to explain natural processes from multiple perspectives simultaneously. Maybe if they start to explain things in terms of atoms, chemicals and biological systems from the beginning it will yield huge breakthroughs in the future.

Multidisciplinary Science

Science is increasingly moving towards enormous datasets that will be processed by artificial intelligence. Fortunately, artificial intelligence does not just adopt one perspective when analysing data, like a person does.

However, perhaps the easiest, most human solution to the segregation of the sciences is to encourage more time in the same rooms. Of course, there are many interdisciplinary conferences, and many subjects are closely aligned, but that could be made far more commonplace. It is challenging to do so as we are moving into an age of such complexity that within even a single science there are hundreds of lifetime’s worth of subspecialisms. How can any inter-disciplinary dialogue be created effectively when they all almost speak in different languages?

Such is the barriers that must be overcome, whether through a change in mindset or the intelligent reorganisation of existing systems.

What Stands In The Way?

Our tribal ancestry has never completely left us. We still love to linger in “in-group, out-group” psychology. Look at our political parties,  not permitted to be in agreement with each other even if they are. This is evidenced in literally every discipline, workplace, and academic circle. “Why doesn’t [insert other group’s name] understand that this is the way it works?!”.

I’m not advocating intellectual relativism. There is a right and wrong in some cases. But we need to tell people from the earliest age that there is no black and white. For example, Music contains Science; when strings vibrate at frequencies that are pleasing to the ear, and when these frequencies are doubled, the same note is produced. We evolved to appreciate these frequencies as a way of bonding in human communities. All subjects exist on a continuum.

There is no telling where this will take us if we are able to emancipate ourselves from the separate rooms we have put ourselves in. Perhaps this is the next step in our social and psychological evolution.

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Hi, my name's Phil. I am a Content Writer and Producer. My background is a mixture of education, social media and management. I've spent a lot of my career working in Latin America and Spain, and I have a love for languages and education. I also have my own blogsite:

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