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Undisciplining Knowledge

Interdisciplinarity in the Twentieth Century

Harvey J. Graff

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The first critical history of interdisciplinary efforts and movements in the modern university.

Interdisciplinarity—or the interrelationships among distinct fields, disciplines, or branches of knowledge in pursuit of new answers to pressing problems—is one of the most contested topics in higher education today. Some see it as a way to break down the silos of academic departments and foster creative interchange, while others view it as a destructive force that will diminish academic quality and destroy the university as we know it. In Undisciplining Knowledge, acclaimed scholar Harvey J. Graff…

The first critical history of interdisciplinary efforts and movements in the modern university.

Interdisciplinarity—or the interrelationships among distinct fields, disciplines, or branches of knowledge in pursuit of new answers to pressing problems—is one of the most contested topics in higher education today. Some see it as a way to break down the silos of academic departments and foster creative interchange, while others view it as a destructive force that will diminish academic quality and destroy the university as we know it. In Undisciplining Knowledge, acclaimed scholar Harvey J. Graff presents readers with the first comparative and critical history of interdisciplinary initiatives in the modern university. Arranged chronologically, the book tells the engaging story of how various academic fields both embraced and fought off efforts to share knowledge with other scholars. It is a story of myths, exaggerations, and misunderstandings, on all sides.

Touching on a wide variety of disciplines—including genetic biology, sociology, the humanities, communications, social relations, operations research, cognitive science, materials science, nanotechnology, cultural studies, literacy studies, and biosciences—the book examines the ideals, theories, and practices of interdisciplinarity through comparative case studies. Graff interweaves this narrative with a social, institutional, and intellectual history of interdisciplinary efforts over the 140 years of the modern university, focusing on both its implementation and evolution while exploring substantial differences in definitions, goals, institutional locations, and modes of organization across different areas of focus.

Scholars across the disciplines, specialists in higher education, administrators, and interested readers will find the book’s multiple perspectives and practical advice on building and operating—and avoiding fallacies and errors—in interdisciplinary research and education invaluable.

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Undisciplining Knowledge

Harvey J. Graff

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Reviews

Reviews

[A] complex tapestry of the history of interdisciplinary knowledge production and institutionalization. Undisciplining Knowledge offers a detailed and illuminating account of the historical and intellectual forces that shaped interdisciplinarity in the twentieth century and those that continue to do so today.

Graff's carefully argued book is much to be welcomed.

I am fascinated by Undisciplining Knowledge. The most comprehensive and complicating examination of interdisciplinary study yet undertaken. Graff pushes on the boundaries of received wisdom.

In this fascinating set of historical case studies, Harvey Graff traces the ways many now-common fields of knowledge, such as biology, cognitive science, sociology, and nanotechnology, developed as the result of interdisciplinary exchanges. Graff's insights (and cautions) will be valuable to anyone involved in education or research interested in seeing current myths of "interdisciplinarity" exploded by serious scholarship.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
344
ISBN
9781421422732
Illustration Description
2 halftones, 7 line drawings
Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Sciences of Life and Society in the Making of the Research University
2. Crossing and Remaking Boundaries
3. In Search of Unification for

List of Tables and Figures
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Sciences of Life and Society in the Making of the Research University
2. Crossing and Remaking Boundaries
3. In Search of Unification for War and Peace
4. Between Mind and Mentality
5. A Material World and the Making of Lifeworlds
6. The Past and Future of Interdisciplinarity
Notes
Select Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Harvey J. Graff
Featured Contributor

Harvey J. Graff

Harvey J. Graff is the Ohio Eminent Scholar in Literacy Studies and a professor of English and history at the Ohio State University. He is the author of The Literacy Myth: Cultural Integration and Social Structure in the Nineteenth Century, Conflicting Paths: Growing Up in America, and The Dallas Myth: The Making and Unmaking of an American City.