Multidisciplinary Education and Team Teaching
Charge to the Task Force
One of the University of Michigan’s defining characteristics is its interdisciplinary scholarship and research. As scholars, we appreciate the power that is brought to bear on a problem by combining ideas, methods and approaches from a variety of disciplines. We understand that interdisciplinarity emerges naturally from problem-solving substantive issues are often multifaceted and not constrained to lie within the boundaries of a single discipline.
As educators, we have the obligation to prepare students who can bring this power to bear on the problems they will face at the University and beyond, who look naturally to problem-solving approaches at the intersection of existing bodies of knowledge. Our students should learn to embrace new and emergent ideas and should develop the skills to collaborate with others who bring perspectives to a problem that are different from their own.
Experience is crucial to student learning and so we must embed interdisciplinary activities as a more regular part of the intellectual training we provide, particularly at the undergraduate level. In the classroom setting, this will require the creation of greater opportunities to pair faculty from divergent disciplines to design and teach new classes or to enrich existing classes.
The president and the provost are committed to establishing two programs to extend Michigan’s multidisciplinary culture more effectively into undergraduate education:
- A program to support team-teaching, the goal of which will be to provide incentives for faculty to engage in team-teaching and to overcome institutional barriers that impede greater adoption of team-teaching practices.
- A Presidential Scholars program, to facilitate and recognize teaching and course offerings by faculty in colleges other than their own.
The initiative will develop multidisciplinary education and team teaching at the undergraduate level. The committee or committees associated with this initiative will:
- Recommend measures to foster team-teaching, multidisciplinary education, and teaching particularly across college boundaries.
- Recommend mechanisms that allow faculty and administrators to easily incorporate team teaching when it appropriately enhances existing courses as well as new courses. These mechanisms should be sufficiently simple and straightforward so that faculty and administrators will not view the mechanism itself as a barrier.
- Advise and assist the provost in developing an equitable and sustainable budget model to support multi-disciplinary team-teaching. (This will be an essential element of making it easy to institute team-teaching).
- Recommend criteria for the selection of Presidential Scholars, and serve as the review committee for the first year of operation of the program.
- Collaborate with the committee or committees associated with the Residential Life Initiative to recommend measures to support interdisciplinary approaches to problem-solving that have coordinated classroom and residence hall components.