Our Research and Teaching Transcend Academic Boundaries

At the doctoral level, transdisciplinary courses help you advance theory and take on difficult practical problems.
All CGU doctoral students take a transdisciplinary course in their second year. Each doctoral t-course takes a large issue and asks students to work together in teams of three to design research that would shed new light on the issue. The result: an unparalleled opportunity to learn how to do research that advances knowledge and makes a difference in the world.

CGU has helped to coin transdisciplinary. Other terms may be used. Some talk about intellectual trespassing. The anthropologist Clifford Geertz spoke of blurred genres. He described an important trend: the disciplines were blending in new ways. Tools and approaches ranging from game theory to statistics to textual analysis were migrating and finding surprising new homes. The trend continues. Within disciplines, one sees exciting theoretical contributions made by those willing to trespass and return. At Claremont, examples include neuroeconomics à la Professor Paul Zak; hybrids of history and literature à la Professors Lori Anne Ferrell and Wendy Martin; politics and economics à la Provost Yi Feng, Dean Tom Willett, and their colleagues; blends of religion and sociology as created by so many of our faculty in the School of Religion; and psychology mixed with almost everything.

For reasons we value inside the academy—advancing knowledge as measured in the coin of our disciplinary realms—transdisciplinarity can pay large dividends. And when it comes to problems out there—the devastation of Sudan or the war in Iraq, as well as everyday problems of underperforming students, despairing elders, stupefaction through legal or illegal substances, or rashes of suburbia spreading into the horizon—no one discipline can do it alone, whether the “it” be to make meaning of the problems or to devise improvements.

And so our Claremont tradition of following the problem across disciplines is not simply rebellious, not simply intellectually promiscuous, and certainly not amateur. We are transdisciplinary because many of our theoretical quandaries demand it and reward it, and because all of the problems out there, outside our academy, do not respect disciplinary boundaries.

At the professional level, transdisciplinary courses prepare you in areas such as leadership, evidence-based decisionmaking, working across cultures, and “good work and good organizations.”
Professional-level t-courses take on some of the most urgent, and often neglected, issues of professional life. They are built on some of CGU’s special capabilities and taught by some of its most distinguished professors. These courses are open to students across CGU, so that class discussions will benefit from the diverse perspectives of students who intend to go into business, government, community organizations, educational institutions, and cultural institutions.

Some courses enable students to do research on pressing issues outside the university.

An example is the internationally recognized Engineering and Industrial Applied Mathematics Clinic. Ellis Cumberbatch and other professors in the School of Mathematical Sciences mobilize students and faculty to tackle problems with real clients ranging from the “Simulation of Population Redistribution” through “Analytic Formulae for Nanoscale Semi-Conductor Devices.”

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