Academics Anonymous is a feature in the The Guardian that addresses issues in higher education. Last Friday the issue of interdisciplinarity in the United Kingdom was addressed. The “anonymous” writer cites the following obstacles to interdisciplinarity; tangible architectural and institutional barriers, major research funding that continues to be discipline-specific, and a UK education system that focuses on streamlining students into highly specialized topics.
The writer recommends that “we rip up the rule books” and do the following:
• Hire and judge people on the quality and impact of their research, not on the journal they have published in.
• Anonymize job and grant applications (for example using a two-step review system).
• Allow interdisciplinary grants as standard that are reviewed by people from multiple disciplines.
• Provide funding for pump-priming new collaboration attempts and risky “what-if” projects.
• Bring experts from other institutions and industries into universities to provide specialised training to students while allowing academics to guide students in critical thinking and core skills.
• Give students free choice of modules so they can graduate as generalists.
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