On the advantages of being a polymath, here. Read the comments too.
Money quote on the defense of disciplinary boundaries:
One sees this in the academic arena, where ancient professors vie with each other to expel intruders from their hard-won patches. Just look at the bitter arguments over how far the sciences should be allowed to encroach on the humanities.
As in retreating to one’s disciplinary silo. Not a good thing, but unfortunately all too common in challenging funding environments. In an email exchange this morning, several of us have been discussing how important transdisciplinary research really is. One of my faculty members pointed out that it’s the really unconventional stuff that’s getting support right now. That’s the science that has tendrils across disciplines…as in a blend.
And now, in the tradition of Andrew Sullivan’s Blog, here’s the view outside my office window here in Woods Hole…
Beyond the oceanographic research vessels you can see the island of Martha’s Vineyard.
Tomorrow, Krasnow Institute faculty, postdocs and graduate students come together for our annual two day science retreat. We come from disparate fields ranging from theoretical physics to computational social science. We have wet lab experimentalists, in silico modelers, brain imagers and behavioral economists–among many others. Our students are pursuing PhD’s in neuroscience, bioscience, computational social science and psychology.
Tomorrow, we “walk the walk” of transdisciplinarity.
It’s very difficult to get into the technical details of disciplines that are different from our own, but it’s surely implicit in what advanced studies are all about. The potential payoffs for the difficult work are immense because–I believe– the big paradigm breaking discoveries, lie at the boundaries of disciplines.
I’ll be live-tweeting the retreat tomorrow with the hashtag #krasnowscience and as will, I imagine, some of our other social networking scientists and trainees. Hope you’ll follow us on twitter.