October 10, 2019

Sparking connectivity

40+ courses punctuate new interdisciplinary studies department

Andover’s newest academic department debuted with a rigorously integrative approach and a clear goal: cultivate critical thinkers and “synthesizers.”

The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies emerged from the Tang Institute, a key Knowledge & Goodness campaign priority. It challenges both conventional teaching methods and the ways in which Andover students consider the connections among their intellectual pursuits.

The courses unite biology and the social sciences, mathematics and art history, literature and physics, and more.

It challenges both conventional teaching methods and the ways in which Andover students consider the connections among their intellectual pursuits.

“Good integrative learning lies at the heart of a liberatory approach to education,” says English instructor and department chair David Fox. “It fosters the skills and dispositions of discernment that students need to become thoughtful and engaged citizens of the world.”

While many courses were previously established, the new department offers the structure and strategy to make this approach as resonant as possible. There is a particular focus on identity and the principles of empathy, equity, inclusion, and innovation. Classes for the coming year include Water and Humanity, Art and Mathematics, and Engagement in the Immigrant City.

“Throughout our work, we’re ensuring students think creatively across traditional boundaries,” says biology instructor Catherine Kemp, who helped found the department. “And we’re presenting opportunities for them to find greater personal meaning in the academic concepts we’re exploring together.”


Originally printed in The Vista: Views from the Knowledge & Goodness Campaign, summer 2019.

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