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Department of Interdisciplinary Sciences

With the advent of the 21st century, there is an ever-growing need to tackle complex and global challenges such as energy and climate change, global inequalities, and the future of information and scientific technology. The traditional approach, based around narrowly compartmentalised individual disciplines, is fast becoming insufficient to address such major issues of modern society, and there is now an urgent need to nurture professionals who can tackle these new challenges with a flexible and holistic vision that transcends the traditional arts-sciences barrier, using appropriate methods. It is to such intent that the Department of Interdisciplinary Sciences has been established as a new department to realise research and teaching that integrates the arts and the sciences.

With the establishment of the new department, the former disciplines of General Systems Studies and Human Geography from the Department of Multidisciplinary Sciences will be newly integrated with Philosophy and the History of Science from the Department of Pure and Applied Sciences. It is hoped that this re-organisation will foster more co-operation between the humanities and social sciences, information sciences, and the natural sciences.

To distil this new vision further, four new interdisciplinary courses have been established to replace previous fields of study: Science and Technology Studies, Geography and Design Sciences, Informatics, and Earth Systems and Energy Sciences.



The distinctive features of this department are as follows:

a) Teaching is based around the four core course prorams: Science and Technology Studies, Geography and Design Sciences, Informatics, and Earth Systems and Energy Sciences, from which students will choose one course as their major.

b) Common modules across courses to acquire a sense of the unique nature of the Department of the Interdisciplinary Sciences, and to develop a shared awareness of the issues transcending inter-disciplinary boundaries.

c) Frequent fieldwork, experimental work, and small-group seminars to build students' communication skills, and nurture individuals with flexibility and perseverance.

d) Focus on special department-wide seminars and final year projects; courses are listed under a common title to allow students to gain guidance from staff outside of their majors.

e) Science and Technology Studies, Geography and Design Sciences: compulsory language modules to maintain the tradition of nurturing professionals on a global scale.

f) Informatics, Earth Systems and Energy Sciences: interdisciplinary curriculum enhanced by additional courses taught by researchers in media studies from the Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies and in energy and environment from the Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology.

In addition, to reinforce the mutual permeation between the courses further, five sub-programmes, provided by each of the four courses, have been established: Science and Technology, Geography and Design, Informatics, Earth Systems and Energy, and Evolutionary Biology. Although it has been previously possible to take courses from other departments, this is the first time that such opportunities have been made systematically available. The Department aims to give thorough guidance, and advise those students with the enthusiasm and determination to master multiple disciplines, to undertake these sub-programmes.

In addition to these sub-programmes, the Department has also created a new Interdepartmental Joint Program, which provides a shared platform to discuss the latest developments in cross-cutting research; the Program currently includes Global Ethics, Evolutionary and Cognitive Neuroscience, Barrier-Free, and the Interpretation of Science and Technology.

There are three main paths after graduation for our graduates. The first of these is graduate study, as master's level research is highly beneficial, and often considered the desirable standard in this field. Second, many utilise the breadth of their grounding in science and technology to pursue careers as professional practitioners, not only in manufacturing, but also in sectors as diverse as government, business, journalism, and international organisations, where their problem-solving and analytical skills are highly valued. Finally, other graduates follow successful careers as specialist researchers or project leaders in interdisciplinary fields, and are valued highly, not only across academic and educational institutions, but also research institutions such as think tanks.

In October 2012, a new program conducted entirely in English (PEAK) was established at the College of Arts and Sciences; the Senior Division of the program, 'The International Program on Environmental Sciences', falls under the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences.


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