The Inevitability of Dynamic Interdisciplinary Education: Using Design Methodologies to Develop and Deliver Curriculum

By Michelle Rothwell.

Published by The International Journal of Design Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: June 25, 2014 $US5.00

Although interdisciplinary education is both necessary and inevitable, many current interdisciplinary efforts in higher education are underdeveloped. Equally important, most colleges and universities still deliver education as "products," following 19th and 20th century models. This paper describes a new approach that uses design methodologies to develop and deliver process-oriented, systemic curriculum. It proposes a new set of principles that is both dynamic and fully interdisciplinary, based on a 21st-century perspective that has wide-ranging support. Most institutions are within reach of utilizing this model, as they already offer interdisciplinary curriculum in some form, ranging from single projects to entire programs. True interdisciplinary education must fully integrate theoretical thinking and practical application, generalist’s and specialist’s contributions, as well as left- and right-brain perspectives. It does not treat STEM and liberal arts components as a dichotomy, as is often the case. This new model’s real-world, laboratory collaborations depend upon all appropriate disciplines and modes of thinking for success. Its dynamic and modular process for curriculum development harnesses systems design theory and information technologies to create a unique infrastructure and knowledge-based framework—wholly integrated, decentralized, and extremely flexible—capable of rapidly adapting to global and technological change.

Keywords: Curriculum, Interdisciplinary, Design

The International Journal of Design Education, Volume 8, Issue 1, June 2014, pp.1-19. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 25, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 839.339KB)).

Michelle Rothwell

Associate Professor, Department of Communication Design, New York City College of Technology, CUNY, Trenton, NJ, USA

Michelle Rothwell is an associate professor at New York City College of Technology, CUNY, who teaches animation and game design graphics. Ms. Rothwell has worked as an interdisciplinary specialist in the field of computer graphics for 25 years, having served in roles across a wide range of functions such as: application specialist, product development, interaction designer, director of information architecture, virtual reality researcher, artist and as a professor. Her client list includes: DuPont, Proctor & Gamble, Merrill Lynch, GlaxoSmithKline, SAP, Qwest Communications, and Unisys. She has designed interdisciplinary programs including an AAS degree in game design, multimedia design concentration in a BFA degree, and an animation and game graphics module in a BTech degree.