Inter-disciplinarity and constructs for STEM education: At the edge of the rabbit hole
Synesis: A Journal of Science, Technology, Ethics, and Policy 2010; 1:G32-35
Research in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is part of an ongoing evolution of innovation that is becoming increasingly complex and nonlinear. Representative of this shift is the trend toward interdiscplinarity. Increased attempts at scientific problem solving in hybrid fields require unconventional skill-sets that are likely to be favored in this new environment. It is worth contemplating how such skills may be imparted by academic programs, what new roles the trainee may play, and whether or not engaging these new paradigms is imperative for contemporary science. The trend towards interdisciplinarity represents a shift in both how knowledge is acquired, and the nature of its consequences. Training interdisciplinary scientists requires new educational formulation(s). To enthuse innovation, future scientists must be trained in ways that foster the intellectual skills to view problems and possible solutions from a more vantaged (and informed) inter- and trans- disciplinary perspective. Academia can retain its vital significance in preparing future graduates by fostering nonlinear information-seeking behaviors and generating awareness of current and future paradigmatic changes.
Key words: STEM, education, inter-disciplinarity, epistemology, training, models.