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Value of multi/interdisciplinary study

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An opinion piece written for the OU student newspaper Sesame (Vol 4 No 1 Page 13), replying to an earlier critique of
Image : The specialised 'hons' is a brontosaurus
Date: 1975

In 1968 the Committee on Manpower Resources for Science and Technology recorded a speech that made the need for multidisciplinary learning plain “To meet current and future needs of employment and to give students of science, engineering and technology some understanding of the society in which they work, universities should consider making the first degree course in science, engineering and technology broad in character, through multidisciplinary approaches to these subjects and by introducing relevant study in other field such as economics, sociology, law etc.” .

The value to society

“It is true that our society needs specialists, the problem is that we cannot predict which types of specialists will be needed in 10- or 20-years’ time. I believe our aim as an Open University is to provide each graduate with the basis of a continuing education in the future, so that our graduates will be able to adapt to this rapidly changing society. Already our graduates are making their mark because our degrees are different”.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this quote has been lifted from a recent online student forum but it actually appeared in one of the early editions of the OU student newspaper, Sesame, in the 1970s.

In 2019 at the Open Programme 50th Anniversary celebration event, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Students Dr Liz Marr stated “If we’re going to solve those problems, and those are huge problems, really big problems, we need people who understand more than just how to put a water supply in. We need people who understand the people that they are working with to make that effective. There’s a whole load of stuff we need to do, and we can’t do it just with scientists, or just with sociologists, or just with technologists. We have to have people with an interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding in order to at least try to resolve some of those problems. So, for me, that’s why the Open Programme is absolutely the most brilliant invention ever – really, really brilliant. I love it to bits, and I will support it forever. It does what we need degrees to do for students and so I’m glad that it’s here."

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Value of multi/interdisciplinary study (page 1 of 5)