The BRAID: Experiments in Stitching Together Disciplines at a Big Ten University

  • Douglas B. Luckie
  • Richard Bellon
  • Ryan D. Sweeder
Keywords: Interdisciplinary, seminar, interviews, chemistry, biology, history of science


Since 2005 we have pursued a formal research program called the BRAID (Bringing Relationships Alive through Interdisciplinary Discourse), which is designed to develop and test strategies for training first- and second-year undergraduate science students to bridge scientific disciplines. The BRAIDs ongoing multiyear investigation points to preliminary conclusions about what does and does not promote student interdisciplinary thinking. Perhaps not surprisingly, our research suggested the most effective technique for helping introductory students see science in integrated terms has been the most direct: explicitly discussing and engaging in debate about the connections found in the real world in a seminar setting. On the other hand, adding a thin gilding of interdisciplinarity to existing courses accomplishes little. Our goal is not to devise the ideal interdisciplinary educational experience, but one that is efficient and sustainable in a wide range of existing curricular structures. We are particularly sensitive to the need to avoid creating eclectic models dependent on our particular institutional setting.