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Blog: Interdisciplinarity as an approach to engaging students with learning across boundaries during Welcome Week

Funded by WIHEA, Dr Rebecca Freeman (Dean of Students), Dr Elena Riva (IATL Director of Studies), Raksha Gohel (PG Student, Life Science) and Leila Fuerst (UG Student Liberal Arts – now PG Student Engineering/IATL) together with a wider group of staff, Students’ Union Officers and Undergraduate and Postgraduate students have embedded interdisciplinary opportunities for students during Welcome Week 2019, enabling them to gain interdisciplinary learning experience from an early stage. The creative programme of activities, designed, developed and delivered by the project team, included a series of IATL modules taster sessions entitled ‘Widening Your Horizons’ on topics such as Wellbeing, Imagination and Design Thinking, a workshop during which students have created ‘the Perfect Sandwich’ and the screening of Wall-E followed by an interdisciplinary panel of Warwick experts.

The events have successfully involved 170 freshers from a variety of Departments and disciplinary background.

Here some reflections from Raksha and Leila on being part of this exciting project.

It was an incredible experience to be involved in organising the interdisciplinary events in Welcome Week. It was a truly unique experience to have created events with a range of students and staff across different departments of the University, and come together to introduce students to the interdisciplinary lifestyle that is Warwick. My highlight would be delivering the “How To Make A Perfect Sandwich” session because it was a great way of demonstrating the ubiquitous nature of interdisciplinarity in a fun way! It was spectacular to see students who have just arrived to campus, thinking outside the box and collaborating to produce some wonderfully creative and peculiar sandwiches, and relate this back to their own disciplines. It was also a very nostalgic feeling, looking back on my first week at Warwick (which had no Welcome Week) and reminiscing on how Warwick appeared to be so daunting. 4 years later, I have much more of an appreciation of all of the different branches here and all that Warwick has to offer, and hope that freshers can now admire this from the beginning of their time here.” Raksha Gohel

“My journey of this project started back in February and has gone through to Welcome Week in October. I attended a preliminary meeting where ideas and projects were mind-mapped and discussed. One project I put forth was the screening of an interdisciplinary movie, Wall-E, followed by a little discussion. It started off as just an idea and it developed into an actual event that I got to see through and organise. There is a level of pride associated with this, being able to take something I have designed with the help of many colleagues, and then actualise it during Welcome Week. Although there were less people than expected, the event was a success, despite some technological issues. The discussion with the four panel members was incredible and the audience had some interesting and intriguing questions. Those who attended were enthusiastic about the panel, even though we had some doubts on the number of questions that would be asked, we were positively surprised. Although I was quite nervous during the event, I have learned so much, and I am so happy with the outcome of it! It was a new experience for me and has taught me many things, including confidence, public speaking, but especially that when you follow something through to the end, the outcome is always worth it!” Leila Fuerst