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Interdisciplinary Learning in IATL

What is interdisciplinary learning?

In essence, interdisciplinary learning is the process of acquiring knowledge and skills across different disciplines – and, at times, beyond the disciplines altogether. In this process, you will experiment with different disciplinary content and methods, broadening your intellectual horizon and developing a critical, holistic approach to complex problems that often exceed the boundaries of single disciplines and of traditional disciplinary scholarship.

Think, for example, about the big, urgent questions about ourselves and the world: Can we adequately address these questions within the frame of disciplinarity?

Interdisciplinary learning will provide you with the tools for doing justice to complex problems and big questions, developing your intellectual virtues as a curious, critical, and creative thinker as well as your ability to apply your thinking to the real world.

What is interdisciplinary learning in IATL?

Study in an interdisciplinary way will allow you to engage in refreshingly different teaching and learning styles.

There are, of course, numerous ways in which interdisciplinarity is practised in education, even in the specific context of the University of Warwick.

But in IATL, you will have a unique opportunity to practise what we call ‘radical interdisciplinarity’ – a form of interdisciplinarity that questions the dominant structures of knowledge and education with a view to transforming it.

You will be offered the exciting possibility to study on modules that explore the complexities of Mind, Body, and Culture, as well of their interrelations; to think about using your creative thinking to Applying Innovation to contemporary challenges; to imagine a different world, considering the ideas and resources we need in Creating Change.

More specifically, by learning in IATL’s interdisciplinary modules, you will be exposed to different, at times radically different, ways of thinking and doing.

You and your peers from different disciplinary backgrounds will be at the centre of the teaching and learning environment. You will play a vital role as an active learner and a co-creator of knowledge, substantially contributing to synthesising disciplinary perspectives in collaboration with your peers as well as with experts in different disciplines and experienced interdisciplinary teachers.

You will reflect on lived experiences, your own and those of others, in teaching and learning as well as in addressing theoretical problems or questions.

You can make a difference by bringing your disciplinary background and your lived experience to the interdisciplinary learning environment.

You will also be encouraged to lead your own learning with independent research, following your curiosity and interest areas.

You will often have a considerable flexibility to disseminate your work through a variety of ‘alternative assessment’ opportunities (e.g. the Student-Devised Assessment), with a chance to address an interdisciplinary audience and/or even audiences beyond the University.

In summary, by engaging in interdisciplinary learning in IATL, you will be a part of an alternative higher education where creativity, critical thinking, and wellbeing are at the centre of the learning experience. You will have the unique opportunity to curiously explore different disciplinary approaches to think holistically about crucial questions as well as about possible practical solutions to the issues they raise.

What are the benefits of interdisciplinary learning in IATL?


  • You will work together with students (and staff) from radically different disciplinary backgrounds, from the Life Sciences to the Arts and Humanities, from Engineering and Medicine to the Social Sciences. This is something unique to IATL – something that is not common in the majority of cross-faculty departments.
  • You will follow your curiosity, exploring topics that are interesting to you while starting from, and beyond, your disciplinary background. This may lead you to surprising discoveries about your discipline, about other disciplines, and about yourself.
  • You will learn to think critically about how knowledge is constructed and approached at University, and to question assumptions and boundaries that can be created through disciplinary-focused perspectives.
  • You will learn about concepts and methods in different disciplinary areas, broadening your intellectual horizon and developing a critical, creative, and holistic way of thinking about complex problems.
  • You will learn how to compare and contrast concepts, resources and methods across disciplines, making significant connections among them, and learn how to integrate and synthesise them.
  • You will learn how to apply your thinking to complex, real-world problems, and face the exciting challenge of finding complex solutions to them.
  • You will contribute to creating knowledge, in the classroom and in assignment tasks, in a variety of media and formats.
  • You will learn how to communicate with and engage different audiences.

Reference: Edelbroek, H., Mijnders, M. & Post, G. (2018) Interdisciplinary Learning Activities. Amsterdam University Press.