In a contribution relevant to both our features on inequality and interdisciplinarity, Kim Weeden and David Grusky examine how tendencies to analyze inequality within disciplinary frames may make it difficult to address key questions about the forms that inequality takes across societies. The authors, who direct centers on inequality at Cornell and Stanford, respectively, focus principally on the assumptions and measurement strategies of economics and sociology and provide suggestions on how these fields can collaborate to provide a deeper understanding of how inequality is structured and how it changes.
The SSRC’s Measuring College Learning (MCL) project has concluded its first phase in developing faculty-derived learning outcomes for a diverse set of undergraduate majors. In this essay, Richard Arum and Eleanor Blair discuss the intention and scope of the project, as well as detailing how they arrived at the result of their work, Improving Quality in American Higher Education. Faculty panels convened across six disciplines found, despite their diversity, that learning in majors should cohere principally around concepts and competencies, rather than content knowledge in and of itself.
Steve Fuller poses an inevitable question for this series on interdisciplinarity. He answers this question by providing an account of the proprietary and path-dependent nature of social science disciplines. One aspect of a potential solution, related to an earlier Items post by Jacobs, is to be more purposeful in the design of the criteria for research funding competitions so that scholars are able to demonstrate reading and influence across fields.
Harvey Graff challenges the perception that interdisciplinary scholarship is inhibited by disciplines; rather, he argues that they are inextricably connected and mutually dependent. Drawing from the insights of his recent book Undisciplining Knowledge, Graff makes the case that the practice of interdisciplinary research is productively diverse, and should be distinguished from an overarching scholarly ideology of interdisciplinarity.