During my sophomore year, after I had decided that Early Childhood Education was not the major for me, I met with my advisor, Mary Cornish, to go over my options. We discussed my interests and abilities until I decided I wanted to do something with statistics. Professor Cornish informed me that it may be too late to start taking a mathematics course unless I wanted to stay an extra year or two, which I had no interest in doing. That is when she mentioned Interdisciplinary Studies, which she described to me as combining two majors into one, but leaving out certain aspects of each that pertain less to what I want to do. That was my definition of interdisciplinarity before I joined the IDS department, but I quickly learned that interdiscipinarity is actually defined as incorporating several fields of study to allow collaboration among diverse disciplines to either specify or broaden students’ education, to gain understanding, and/or to problem solve. After a little research on the Interdisciplinary Studies department and how to create my own major, I decided to take her advice and come up with a major that incorporated statistics with sports, eventually naming it Sports Statistics & Analytics.
Going into the first Intro to Interdisciplinary Studies class, I was expecting only a small group of people, maybe ten or fifteen, but was surprised to see so many people. I actually expected the class to be completely independent, with professors coming around to help with anything, answer questions, and check the progress that has been made towards the major. I was expecting to create my contract, but I had no idea how much work went into creating my own major, including the contract, planning guide, and essay that had to be approved. Although the course was much different than I thought, I think it is incredibly beneficial, informative, and fun.
Throughout the course, my understanding of IDS has changed drastically from the first day of class. Originally, my understanding of IDS was that it brought two disciplines, probably somewhat related, together to create a new discipline. I wasn’t necessarily wrong, but I had no idea how much more there was to it. The biggest change in my understanding was realizing that interdisciplinary studies is more about connecting disciplines with other disciplines to understand more about each discipline and apply knowledge from one discipline to another. I thought that IDS would have me create a whole new discipline, and then I would become an expert in that new discipline. This course has taught me that interdisciplinary studies is more about having a more generalized, diverse knowledge of multiple disciplines instead of having a specialized, in-depth knowledge of one aspect of one discipline.
The Content, Methods, Epistemologies article related to my major if only to help me define it as a quantitative discipline, and not a qualitative discipline. My Sports Statistics & Analytics major is definitely quantitative because it deals with numbers, measurements, and empirical research to understand its content. The Ten Cheers for Interdisciplinarity article related to my major in many ways, especially the complex or practical problems portion. This portion details how using one discipline, even if all of the information within the discipline is available, can be limiting to people and give them tunnel vision. While I was trying to create my major, I was too focused on statistics and mathematics, and I had tunnel vision because I thought that was the only important discipline and should be what my focus was on. For a long time, that tunnel vision limited me, and I didn’t even consider what I would apply my knowledge of statistics to once I had a good understanding of it. Finally, continuing from earlier on my understanding of IDS throughout the course, the article Benefits and Challenges of Interdisciplinarity taught me exactly that, the benefits and challenges of creating my own major. Although I have not yet seen the benefits or faced many challenges, I feel this article in particular has prepared me for when I do.
In my opinion, interdisciplinarity is extremely important in universities, as well as the world. More and more, potential employers are looking for well-rounded people with multiple skills over the traditional college graduate. Interdisciplinary studies allows students to have a more diverse skill set and be knowledgeable about many different subjects. I also think that if high school students knew about interdisciplinary programs at universities, they would be more interested in that over the traditional path college students normally take. Almost everything in the world has been created using multiple disciplines, and I think society will continue to become more interdisciplinary because it can create unknown discipline that have the potential to be beneficial to society as a whole. For example, I think the advancement of medicine will continue to improve with the integration of other disciplines such as technology, biology, anatomy, etc.I hope that Plymouth State’s IDS program continues to grow and get funding to bring in more resources. I also hope PSU can advertise the IDS program as an option to high schoolers, at the very least to educate them about interdisciplinarity.
For my future, I hope to continue to integrate statistics with other disciplines other than sports. Statistics can be applied to anything, and I hope that my experiences in the IDS program here at PSU will prepare me for a future as a sports statistician. My hope is that I can continue to gain knowledge from as many disciplines as I can to become a more well-rounded individual in the future, for both my career and personal life.