Friday, December 12, 2008
So here I am at Appalachian State University seeking two degrees in Communication Studies BS and Interdisciplinary Studies: Third World Studies, not simply to earn two degrees, but to acutely listen to other opinions on social issues, shape my understandings through each course, and to see where there is a connection between the Third World and Communication. My focus is on the link between these two very different studies. I hope to find a way to use human communication in order to make a difference.
My degree in Third World Studies through the Interdisciplinary Studies program offers a view of different courses to better profile why the Third World exists in the first place through a liberal arts sense. There are no courses that say “IDS: Why you should care about Third World Studies,” but rather areas structuring around specific regions of the world that are considered to be “Third World” and historical, geographical, political, artistic, and anthropological fields are offered in order to surround this idea of “what is Third World?” This requires a substantial amount of thinking and understanding on my part since no person is telling me what there is to do to change the negative political and social constructions of the Third World. Since I want to find this focal point for the two areas of study, this degree allows me to search on my own time and in my own way without giving me one specific way to think.
This links directly as to why I chose to go into the Interdisciplinary program - this freedom of seeking a different opinion and way of thinking. My question is why we cannot manipulate in a resourceful, practical, and dignifying way to create stability socially, economically, and politically in order to find a solution to poverty and the unjust treatment of victims of race, class, and gender. Is it possible or not?
This is how I plan to make a difference or, hopefully, some sort of change.
So how do I go about doing this? My course of study through the Interdisciplinary department was already somewhat planned out for me as I am taking the Third World Studies track, from which I choose specific classes in different categories already laid out. I am still managing my way through General Studies finishing core classes to graduate, but now beginning my track towards an Interdisciplinary degree is promising for what lays ahead in my coursework for the major.
Next year as a junior I plan to do a student exchange through International Student Exchange Programs (ISEP) to Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. Several classes they offer for their international students (Thai culture courses) will take the place of most of the areas I specified earlier to meet my Third World criteria. These courses are Thai Art and Agriculture, Modern Thai History, Thailand in the International Arena, Society and Culture of Thailand, and Thai Media and Society. Seven courses have also been approved for my Communication Studies major as well, some being Communication Theory, Introduction to Communication Research, and Mass Media and Society. Taking these courses in a country so foreign to my own where I have no knowledge of the language will be a great challenge for me, but I feel it will add substantially to the goal I am hoping to accomplish by integrating these two areas of study. The courses will thankfully be taught in English, but aside from what I learn in the classroom, I feel by going out into the culture and experiencing a new way of living and thinking will be something I can always look back upon when considering anything foreign to me.
At Appalachian State though, I also plan to take World Music, political classes, historical classes, literature classes that pertain to my fields of study. It is exciting to get the opportunity for variety in life, particularly while studying, and look forward to my next few semesters at Appalachian State in terms of what I will learn and take from each course.
In terms of integrated studies, I feel like my two degrees I am working towards complete the idea of “integration.” Thus far, I have taken classes based on public speaking and the incentive behind mass societies, those courses being Public Speaking and Introduction to Mass Communication, while simultaneously looking at the spatial distributions of Latin American indigenous populations in Geography of Latin American and learning the basics of the Spanish language as previously mentioned. So far these have aided in my sense of what I want to do and how, despite such different subjects, everything can interlock in some way or other. The interactions and communication between foreign relations directly affects the people involved, creating the basis for my studies and what I hope to potentially get from both.
Overall, I anticipate what I will learn, but it is hard to get a good sense of what the outcome will be since I am still so young in my education process. The courses I look forward to taking are forthcoming, but I have gotten a good start in both of my fields and feel secure that I will be learning the things I wish to learn and take with me post-graduation.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Histories of Knowledge
Statement of Purpose: Non-profit Development and Management
I am an Interdisciplinary Studies Major, individually designing my course of study. My concentration is Non-profit Development and Management, the learning of skills and abilities one must have in order to create and maintain an organization. I plan to make a non-profit that gives positive influences to children and adults with disabilities and helps parents learn the skills needed raise a child with disabilities. The question I am working towards is “How can I develop more opportunities for the disabled population to succeed and grow while at the same time educating the surrounding population about the different disabilities?” The organization I would like to create is called Yahweh’s World- Come as you are, be who you be (the word Yahweh in Greek means “I be who I be”). This phrase applies to this population perfectly, what one child with Down syndrome can’t do another can.
There are four parts to the program. Part one is a life skills program set up for the adults in the area. This will give them a chance to work on skills such as setting the table, counting change and using cleaning supplies. There are a good percentage of people who could live in a group home or even in an apartment with a small group of friends, if they had extra training and practice. This part of the program will hopefully give adults with disabilities more opportunities for jobs and positive feedback. This will also be a way for them to get out and meet people through social gatherings and service projects. Part two is a summer camp for the younger population. Counselors will have a child with disabilities and a child without disabilities. The counselor will be responsible for facilitating growth between campers and teaching love and acceptance. Part three is a mentorship program set up in a similar way to the camp where the Big Sibling will have two siblings (one with a disability and one without). This will occur throughout the year, and have service and social requirements each month. I believe the best way to be accepted into a community is to give back to it. Part four is a support network for the parents of the children and youth participating in the organization. This will be a chance for them to get out and have fun, as well as, learn skills from other parents with children with disabilities. They will be able to learn from and encourage each other.
I chose career path after being taught and inspired by my friends Ronda, Cameron and Will. They have a range of disabilities from Down syndrome to Microcephaly to Developmental Delays. I have been hanging out with them for the last 7 years and each day they amaze me. Before I met them, I had no knowledge of disabilities and I was very ignorant. I was one of the people that pitied them and felt bad that they were born incapable. I have learned so much from them and had my expectations thrown out. This year Will is graduating from High School, and Ronda and Cameron are going to be seniors. After they graduate there is a limited amount of career paths and options for them. Ronda and Will have brothers and sisters that will take care of them after their parents pass away but Cameron is an only child, so after her parents pass away, if she is deemed unable to live with friends, she will be sent to a group home. I see a need to help those who need it. With some extra training and teaching less people will be forced to live in an assisted residency.
Something that drives my passion is the fact that we label this population of people. Each child, whether born with or without disabilities is special and capable, things may take longer but one thing that helps is having expectations and love for what they are capable of. I think we do a poor job of loving people for who they are, without comparisons to others. This is something that happens in all populations of people, Ronda is a girl who happened to be born with Down syndrome, she is not her disability. We get so hung up on titles whether it is disabled, freak, jock or prep and forget that we are all people who crave relationships. I want to teach people that we are more alike than we think.
Everyone deserves an opportunity to develop and grow while being loved in their struggles. I have been planning out this program since I was a junior in high school. I know it is going to be hard and there is a lot of work that will go into it, but taking a variety of classes and developing a spectrum of skills through the IDS department is going to help. My concentration is giving me the opportunity to develop the knowledge to succeed and the extracurricular activities I am in, which I will explain in detail, give me the skills needed to accomplish my plan.
To pursue an individually designed degree in Non-profit Development and Management I have taken classes from a variety of disciplines. As previously mentioned, after college I plan to create an organization that works with the disabled population. In order to do this, I decided to major in Interdisciplinary Studies because it gives me the chance to learn how to begin an organization, create a strong staff, work with the disabled population and maintain a balance in the program. Through this program I have taken classes such as Communication in Organizations and Public Speaking in the Communication Department which have helped develop my ability to speak in front of large groups, as well as, understand how people interact within a group. My sophomore year I took Careers in Not for Profit in order to understand the tasks and basis of a non-profit organization. This was a service-learning class that enabled me to assist in fundraising and program planning for a local non-profit,
Also, I am in the process of getting a minor in sociology, taking classes like Social Problems in
Along with these classes, I am doing a lot of extracurricular things to help in my integration of all my studies. I am a Resident Assistant in the dorms, so I am in charge of 36 residents. This position allows me to work on my managing and leadership skills. Each semester I have to do a certain amount of programs and also keep the hall clean and positive. This takes a lot of patience and time management, two skills that will help in the future. Also, I work in the ACT office as a co-chair for the impact team. This is a volunteer group of students that help raise awareness about social issues in our community, Boone. We plan the big events on campus such as MLK Challenge, a day of service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., and Dance Marathon, which is an event where students dance for 24 consecutive hours in order to raise money for two local non-profits. In working with the ACT office I am learning how to encourage and motivate volunteers, exploring new fundraising ideas that I can do in the future, and building a network for the future. On top of it all I try to volunteer as much as possible at a variety of organization. I have worked with the Hospitality House that gives warm meals and shelter to people living in homelessness, and with the Humane Society that works to get homes for abandoned and abused animal. I have also worked on trails and with environmental groups like Appalachian Voices and many others. I have helped with groups that were just getting started to groups that are well known and established. This is very helpful because it is helping me make a checklist of what needs to be done in each stage, as well as, formulate a list of classes needed. All of my extracurricular activities are giving me the hands on experience I will need in the future.
I am working towards an internship with a local non-profit. I try to apply everything I learn in class to what I do outside of the classroom. The outside activities are helping to fuse the many disciplinary subjects together. In working with Sugar Grove I put on a Thanksgiving feast, but because the school had a lack in funds I had to work on getting donations. This didn’t just require my programming skills but also my ability to write to businesses for donations. Everything is interconnected sometimes it takes an unexpected circumstance to see how they fit together.
In this paper, I have summarized several of the important classes I have taken along with the extracurricular activities I am participating in that I think will create the perfect blend of experience and knowledge in order to create a sustainable organization.
Globalization and Social Change
As the cultures and peoples of the world become more interconnected and corporations have a growing influence on many of the world’s countries, the need for a critical examination of our interactions on a global scale magnifies. What forms of oppression and injustice are being fostered by corporate globalization? In what ways are local identities and diversity being traded for hegemony, monoculture, and assimilation? What forms of globalization, if any, foster democracy and social justice, preservation of human rights, and sustainability? What sort of society would maximize democratic involvement and minimize social stratification? How would such a society be organized, and how would power be distributed? How does the state of globalization reflect the power relations present within a society, and how does it affect or reinforce them? What role does government and social organization play in all of this?
I am designing my major to address issues revolving around globalization, social structure, and the nature of social change. I want to examine several aspects of globalization, including effects on local cultures and identities, labor and workers, and the environment. I intend to examine the structure and effects of current institutions of global economics, such as the World Trade Organization and World Bank. In addition to studying private systems of power, I plan to study social revolutions, social movements, and collective behaviors as avenues for social change.
In order to better understand international effects and politics of globalization and economic trends in the modern world, I will need to take a variety of courses from several disciplines related to globalization and social dynamics. I will draw from history, sociology, anthropology, sustainable development, and political science to explore power dynamics, problems, and social change in our dynamic world.
The Political Science/ Anthropology course titled “Globalization” will be helpful to my understanding of the processes surrounding global change. In exploring globalization, effects on indigenous and agrarian populations, and collective behaviors of resistance, the issues of equality and power distribution will arise. To address the various problems of inequality and their consequences, I will take the Sociology course “Social Stratification.” In this course I will study the distribution of wealth, power, and privilege, and relate those studies to the current economic and political system in place in the U.S., and its spread to the global scene. A course which I have already taken, “Principles of Sustainable Development”, has been central to my understanding of historical, conceptual, and theoretical foundations of sustainability in relation to global issues of equity, wealth and poverty, and environments.
The effects of globalization and economic pressures are felt around the world, and resistances and uprisings are happening as a result. Because the focus of my course of study revolves around issues of equity, democracy, power relations, and the nature of revolutions and social change, I will need to take courses addressing each of these topics. One course I will take is the History course “Comparative Revolutions.” This will develop analytical skills in comparative history, and aid in my basic understanding of the socio-economic and political forces contributing to modern revolutions and social upheavals. In order to understand the forces that impact society, and the nature of revolutions, I will take the Sociology course “Collective Behavior and Social Change.” This will give me an in-depth look at tactics, strategies, causes, and effects of social changes and upheavals. The questions of when, how, and by whom change is affected will be explored in this class.
During the past five centuries, indigenous communities throughout Latin America have lost control of historic lands and have been forced into various forms of slavery and/or virtual slavery. Many uprisings have taken place during this time in response to neoliberalism and globalization, including the Zapatista uprising in Mexico. The New York Times has called the Zapatista uprising the first "post-modern" revolution. I am particularly interested in learning from this ongoing struggle, and will thus focus my attention on Latin America.
In order to form a background on which to understand the current cultures, politics, identities, and institutions present within Latin America, I plan to take the course "History of Latin America." Subsequently, I plan to take the History course “Indigenous Resistance in Modern Latin America.” This course will give me an in-depth look at the social and political movements of indigenous and agrarian populations in response to forces of globalization, from an outside, academic perspective. The Anthropology course "The Politics of Ethnicity" will illuminate a framework within which to understand the effects of globalization on culture, politics, and identities within agrarian and indigenous populations. How do people construct their identities during times of social upheaval, violence, and resistance? What medims are available for understanding the dynamic cultural and political forces at play within border zones? How can a balance be found between solidarity and academic critique?
I will also take the Anthropology course “Agrarian Studies and Rural Development” to better understand and analyze rural populations in the context of global economic and political influence. Because I will be focusing on Latin American populations, I will need a cultural understanding of these populations, and thus and understanding of, and ideally a proficiency in, the Spanish language. I am taking four Spanish language courses to prepare me for studying abroad in Latin America. Spending time abroad will give me a better understanding of the culture, politics, and environment, as well as solidify and put into practice the base of Spanish that I will have accumulated. While abroad, I specifically intend to take cultural courses, as well as language courses to increase my language proficiency. I plan to work directly within indigenous social movements in Latin America, in order to gain experience in community building and organizing as foundations of effective social change. This opportunity will give me the chance to integrate theory and practice.
From these areas of study, each related to my topic, I can gain a better understanding of globalization from various perspectives. I will develop anthropological, cultural, historical, sociological, and political understandings of the issues surrounding my study, and will consequently be equipped with analytical, comparative, and problem-solving skills to address these issues.
In the fall of 2003, I was enrolled in Praxis, and given the exact assignment I am now writing, my statement of purpose. I didn’t realize it then, but it is not a coincidence that I withdrew from the University that same semester. The following string of events, which at the time seemed random, started creating a pattern of which I began to realize was anything but arbitrary. I also began to realize that earning my degree is only the beginning.
I headed to New Zealand for some time to myself. I stayed with a midwife in a small town in the North Island. At the time, I thought I was there to get away, not realizing I would take that trip with me for the rest of my life. What I have kept with me from that trip is seeing Jan, a midwife, a massage therapist, a nurse, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, and an acupuncturist going about her day seeing patients with an abundance of knowledge, wisdom and the most humble demeanor. I also keep with me my journal of my time there, filled with sketches of views and sketches of ideas, homeopathic recipes, lines from the Tom Robbins books I read, and my thoughts. I didn’t know how much I kept with me from that trip until I looked back at that journal. Everything is so clearly written out, by me and for me but I still didn’t connect all of the dots.
I traveled a bit more in the States when I returned, but I mostly worked. I began remembering a lunch I had with my mother shortly after leaving Appalachian. She was telling me about a local massage school and asked if I would ever consider attending? I set up an interview and I remember walking in the front door, looking around, smelling lavender and eucalyptus and knowing instantly I would be enrolling. I fell in love with learning for the first time in my life there. The human body was so interesting to me and massage school sure did get me over a lot of my insecurities. I was learning a great deal about myself, and how I work as a person. It was there that I became interested in nursing school. I wanted to learn as much as I could so I could help others in any way I was able. I learned that you could only help other people if you at first help yourself. So I was ready to go back to Appalachian to finish my BA.
I was planning on declaring as a philosophy major when I returned, but one dinner with my parents changed that. I remember telling them that I was finally ready to go back and finish my degree. I told them about my plans of studying philosophy and they nodded. My dad then burst out as if he had been holding it in for years, why aren’t you going back to get your art degree? For as long as I can remember, I have always been interested in art. When I was younger, I would beg my grandfather to let me play with a piece of wood and a hammer. He would reluctantly give them to me with a following warning, “If you hurt yourself girl, your Nan will have my hide.” I would sit and mold the single piece of wood for hours. As I got older my materials expanded and I began playing with whatever I could get my hands on. I loved creating things, but I never thought that what I was creating was good enough to do anything with, but I dreamed of the possibilities. So when my dad posed the question, I was a bit taken off guard, but I said I would at least apply. I was accepted into the art department and that was the beginning of putting an end to some of my self-defeating thoughts.
As I began to get deeper and deeper into my art classes I began to notice that art is how I deal with everything in my life. I have always used art as a way to explain and understand my experiences. It seemed so natural for me to be here, and studying something that I have always been interested in. I decided on a BA in studio art because I do not want art to be my main financial source, instead I want it as a tool to process my experiences. I decided to minor in IDS because it made sense of all my decisions in life and in school. It gave me the vision to see life patterns and a guide to see in the grey areas. My Interdisciplinary studies have been more of a natural progression than a strict plan of attack. My art degree, linked with my Interdisciplinary work has given way to a bigger picture of my overall lifestyle than just a four-year degree track.
To earn my degree, with a major in Art and a minor in Interdisciplinary studies I have had to take many classes that may not outwardly seem to relate, but they have all come together to give me a foundation for a lifetime of study. The art classes that I have chosen to take were very basically because of interest. However, paired with my interdisciplinary classes, those art classes taught me more than just the ability to work with a particular medium, they taught me life lessons that I will take with me forever.
A perfect example was my decision to take a ceramics class. I had always admired my fellow classmates who could work functionally and conceptually with clay, but more importantly I admired their patience with the clay. At that time I was apprenticing with a jeweler and my lack of patience was a common conversation topic. The retired jeweler was now working with clay and when I had some down time in the studio I would wander around looking at different pieces he was working on. I would always ask him about different surfaces he had created and he would always reply with the same answer, patience, you have to be patient. I enrolled in the ceramics course, yes to work with the clay, but also to slow down and be patient with a new art form. By no means did I master the art of patience, but when working with a new medium, you have to be patient. Through my IDS studies, I have been taught to see the different layers in which to view the world and my experiences. The ceramics class could have been taken solely for that purpose, of working with clay, but I looked deeper into the class’ potential. I not only learned about the material, I learned lessons about myself, how I work, and values that I believe to be important, like patience.
Besides ceramics, my art degree has taken me through two drawing courses, which have developed my skill of observation and given me the ability to sketch out my ideas. I have taken metals classes purely on the love of casting and the dirtiness of it. I have taken art history classes, which give me a basis, sculpture classes, which entertained my childhood imagination, a fibers course, and currently a bookbinding course to broaden my ideas and interests in art.
The interdisciplinary courses I have taken helped me to make connections where otherwise I might not have. The most helpful and meaningful course I have taken in IDS is by far Histories of Knowledge’s. It gave me the tools to be able to be comfortable in the sometimes-uncomfortable grey areas of life and experiences. I have taken a Chinese medicine course that taught me the philosophy and culture behind this form of healthcare. It also appeased my interest in acupuncture, medicinal herbs, and overall well being. Through IDS I have also studied at Penland School of Crafts. That month long experience changed my life. I enrolled in a bookbinding course and an oil painting/collage course. This was the first time that I saw the potential of education outside of the university setting that was validated. I learned that learning does not end once you’re out of school if you don’t want it to. This proves to be a very powerful lesson for me. Penland also taught me that there are many ways of accomplishing a task. You just have to find or create a way that works for you. All of my Interdisciplinary and Art courses have given me the validation that I have been longing for. They have shown me that education is all around, in many forms, and it lasts lifetimes.
I have chosen to approach my studies in this fashion because for me, education has been a natural progression. Learning is not a concrete structure. Instead, you follow the route that you think will get you to your specific destination. However, once en route, you may find you need to go this way or that way depending on what you have learned thus far. It is constantly changing, therefore I am dedicated to being a life long learner and my December graduation is only the beginning.
Statement of Purpose
International Studies: Asia
I am studying International Studies: Asia with a Concentration on Japan with the intentions of using this degree to return to Japan for a teaching position. The IDS degree was a good fit for me because it allowed be to do a significant amount of observing into the concepts behind Second Language Acquisition, Teaching Methods and Education in Japanese Society, History, and Culture. This is my goal as a learner in the IDS program.
I hope to teach English as a second language in an established public/private school in a full time position or a night/cram school, while I seek further education in the Japanese Language to the point of fluency and possibly seeking a Masters in TEFL or TESL. This allows me to continue to teach English, in a well established position, abroad or to return to the United States to teach Japanese, preferably at an Undergraduate level.
The reason this degree is a good choice for me is because to teach a second language effectively it is very important to teach to nature of the students. A Montessori style of teaching is very similar to my ideal pedagogy but seeing as that would not be an option in a Japanese public school setting I have to try hard to meet on a middle ground. To do this I have to learn as much as I can about the Japanese Culture, Society, and even Identity. Being able to reach students is a large part of transferring the knowledge, but if one cannot connect, it is very difficult to pass on the knowledge.
Due to the furthering Globalization of the world it is important for successful young people to be multi-lingual. For the youth of tomorrow, to triumph in the economic world around them it is imperative to adapt to their surroundings and that means overcoming language barriers. Right now, the most highly successful business language is, arguably, English. Furthering the international market is important to the world economy and success.
The interest in my concentration on Asia/Japan came from my precious experience of living in Japan. While there, I fell in love with every aspect of Japan and the people. I have wanted to return to that country, to live, ever since I left. While there I had my first paying job as an assistant teacher of English in a classroom setting for three to five year olds. Since then, I have assisted in teaching most age ranges in official settings. This is what I think my calling is for my future. That is why I wish to continue on this path. However, since there is neither Japanese nor a TESL/TEFL major at Appalachian State, I decided on the IDS: Asia with a concentration on Japan and a minor in Teaching English as a Second Language. I have been using my free hours to study other languages, learning methods, and technology. I think these are the key to my future and my efficiency as a teacher in the future.
My study of Asia has mainly focused on Japan but I have tried to expand my study to include: Language, Culture, Society, Identity, History, Anthropology, Geography, Religion, and Nutrition. I will have taken classes like Japanese Society and Identity through Literature, Japanese Society through the Visual Arts of Manga, Modern Japanese History, and plan to take Russo-Japanese Relations. I have already taken two Independent Studies with my Japanese teacher Misa Yamamoto. In these classes we had a focus on integration, a study of interaction, language, and modern conceptions. All of these classes will have prepared me for integration into the Japanese school system and to educate Japanese students. Understanding that I will have to cross the cultural gap of the Japanese classroom is part of this educational agenda.
To further help me with teaching skills and getting into the Japanese mindset I was also an Instructional Assistant with Appalachian State’s Japanese classes. Here I learned to focus my methodologies and get some real world application of language learning from an instructor’s view point. This was an invaluable experience that gave me a better idea of what I have to look forward to in the educational field.
My minor courses are all based around Teaching English as a Second Language. I took these in order to be a more efficient teacher to non-native speakers. While in these courses I worked closely with exchange students and local non-native speakers to increase their fluency. Those are examples of how I will apply the knowledge I acquire in these courses. The courses have also allowed me to compile my personal pedagogy and a small lesson plan for second language acquisition to Japanese youth and post them to a personal webpage. http://www.appstate.edu/~wl65727/will_page.html
To further understand language I have audited some other language courses that would help me as a language teacher, including courses in Arabic and Latin. Understanding where a language comes from is very important to learning the flow of the language. Finally, I completed a course in Introductory American Sign Language. It is a little more non-traditional then most languages but still a viable and important one. Like Japanese it is a high context language and requires a different mindset completely than English; thus, showing how culture plays strongly into the picture.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Here at Appalachian State University my self-designed concentration is in film studies. I knew there was an English major with a concentration in film, but that would not have given me what I really wanted. After figuring that out I looked around at different majors to see if there was another way to study film, one of the majors I looked at was the Communications major, but that was geared more towards television production. I even considered transferring schools until someone told me about the Interdisciplinary Studies program. I looked into it and immediately made an appointment with Richard Carp. After the meeting I had a vague idea of the classes I wanted to take because I already knew all the film classes from the English department. What I really want to study is the technical aspect of film because that really interests me, and to do that I must pull from different departments and connect them. I am pulling classes from the English department, the Curriculum and Instruction department, the Theatre and possibly the Communications departments, with my main focus being on the technical side of film.
I had not figured out that I wanted to study the technical aspect of film my first couple of semesters here, so I was focused on taking all of the classes I had to in order to graduate. After putting a little more thought into it I remembered a class I was placed into in high school. At the beginning of my sophomore year of high school one class I wanted to take was full so the school placed me in a literature and film class. Looking back that was the best thing that could have happened to me. That started my interest in film classes offered at Appalachian. I took the “Introduction to Film” class with Dr. Craig Fischer and I was hooked. I remember asking him one day after class if there was any way to study film outside of the English department. He was the one who told me about the Interdisciplinary Studies department and how students before me had wanted to do the same thing. He also gave me recommendations of teachers and classes in other departments that would help me.
The classes I am taking from the English department are “Introduction to Film”, “Survey of World Cinema I” and “Survey of World Cinema II”, “Advanced Studies in Film”, and possibly “Film Theory and Criticism” or “Screenwriting.” The two classes I am taking from the Curriculum and Instruction department are “Introduction to Sight and Sound” and “Beginning Video Production.” The only class I know of right now that I will take in the Theatre department is “Producing the Narrative Film,” but I think there is a film workshop offered over the summer by the same professor as the production course. I do not know if I am going to take any classes from the Communications department because I think they are more geared towards television production not films.
I am studying the technical aspect of film through the Interdisciplinary Studies department because it allows me to take classes from different departments and put them together in a specific way that helps me plan my career. The classes I have taken so far have been very interesting and as each one ends they keep me wanting more, and I look forward to taking as many more as I can. I hope to learn whole film making process. I am currently learning how to use a camcorder to shoot scenes and to edit them with different software. I do not necessarily want to be the next big Hollywood producer or cinematographer, I would be perfectly happy working on independent films. Just about anything that involves being hands on in the process of making films would be incredibly amazing.
I do not know how many times I have walked away from a film thinking, “Wow! I never thought about that before,” but I love that feeling. There have been countless films that have changed my point of view about certain subjects, whether they were documentaries or major motion pictures. I want to be a part of creating that feeling in someone else. If I could just get through to one person through an idea in a film it would be worth it. Then there is the lighter side of films that interest me too. Sometimes, I see films just to escape reality for a little while. I would also like to assist others in doing the same.
Other great things about studying film include looking into some of the greatest filmmakers of all time, learning how to accurately portray emotions, and learning how to put your own point of view out there for others to see. By studying some of the greatest filmmakers, and sometimes the not so great, I learn what is generally accepted and not accepted by societies in film. Not that any of that really matters, because I will put my view out there and if it gets rejected, so be it. I will keep trying and hope that at least once something good will come forth. By learning how to accurately portray emotions through film I will be able to get audiences to feel what the characters are feeling and that gets them generally interested in what unfolds through events in the film.
I have put a lot of thought into my portfolio and I figured out that I am going to make a website and create links to everything I do that relates to my major. Any films that I make, film reviews that I write, and papers that I write related to interdisciplinarity will definitely be included. The only thing I haven’t figured out yet is whether I’m going to strictly follow the portfolio requirements or create my own guidelines. I have a few papers I have written for Praxis that might be able to go in the portfolio, along with papers I have written for “Introduction to Film” and “Survey of World Cinema I.” The only actual film I have made was the one from the Apple iMovie Contest and once I actually create the website I will put it up. I will also create a link to my Introduction to Sight and Sound website because there are a lot of great projects I have done in that class that would fit well in the portfolio.
Statement of purpose
November 18, 2008
Social justice through Environmental Stewardship
Social justice through environmental stewardship: a long string of words which
simply entertain the notion that the only way to address today’s social problems is to address that of a fragile environment as well. Environmental stewardship is a concept or personal ethic which guides one to seek integration of several areas of community life to achieve the great goal of sustainability of resources in such a way that will extend or improve life on this earth for everyone. In seeking social justice, one must also weed through the various causes of family and community deterioration, such as wasteful consumerism.
There are several avenues one can go down to incorporate these two issues in a constructive way and it is not always easy to decide which one to take. However, my background in interior design and building technologies, sociology, anthropology, and family and consumer sciences, has given a base for recognition that issues weighing heavily on society and the world at large put direct strain on the American family.
Experiences with the Tarahumara peoples of Chihuahua, Mexico during a crisis of famine caused by drought and McComb, Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina show an inextricable link between environment and social problems of families affected. Believing in the truth that “you can give a man a fish and feed him for a day, but teach him to fish and feed him forever,“ makes the idea of working through issues from a more intimate level within communities appealing. What I learned especially from those situations is that Band-Aids only hold for so long in a crisis, but teaching people to live in a way that may lessen the brunt of a crisis before it occurs is more helpful. Also, building a strong sense of pride in their homes and faith in their communities to help one another can allow people to see the effects they have in the world and how important their roles in making positive ones can make people think twice about the weight of their personal decisions.
Stewards are the role models for the younger generations to look up to and learn from, parents and primary care takers of young children can make a huge impact in the future of the children if given the right tools. There are several ways to help stimulate the healthy growth of a child by taking the time early in their lives to provide a safe and clean home and teach them responsibility through role modeling and play. Creating a good foundation for children in their early years will ultimately better their adult life and decision making. Incorporating actions of environmental stewardship through home activity as well as community involvement can be done if we as a society start to see our children as the gems that they are, as well as seeing what we have around us that can be utilized creatively.
Through classes in sociology and anthropology, I learned how our society works at large. How we treat one another based on social precepts brings understanding of the types of consumers we are of this world, and why we feel certain wants as needs, and how to redirect those desires positively. Through classes of my Interior Design background, I learned not only just the aesthetic components of the home but how color, lighting, and chemicals affect the general well being of people in their home as well as how to design a space that is efficient spatially but also in its economical and energy costs as well. My experiences as a nanny for children of special needs I learned the challenges of raising families through adversity as well as how individuals relate to one another in this culture and how to reach seemingly unreachable kids. Through my art classes and relationships to dance and music in the cognitive processes of infant and toddlers, I learned how to ease transitions and learning through creative and highly energetic means.
In continuing this process of helping households become homes that become community, I will be taking courses in child development, Birth-2, family economics, society and technology, planning for communities, social issues and ethics, environmental ethics for a more comprehensive arrangement of skills to help working class parents feel empowered in a non-abrasive way.
Along with my coursework incorporating social concerns and illustrating that the power of simple changes, I am planning to host a Boone version of a program from the West Coast called “swap-o-rama mama” in which the community gets involved in donating clothes and infant items, with the opportunity to trade for what they need. As well there will be on –hand volunteers with sewing skills who can revitalize or reconfigure outfits and home accessories in exchange for the opportunity to sell their own crafts. This process started with the concept that we can collectively reduce the amount of waste of textile materials in landfills while engaging in the novelty of coming home with inventive creations that are truly one of a kind. Extra items or proceeds go to benefit organizations such as “women to work”. Sustainability of this earth depends on the ability to convince people why it is worth it. If you reach out to people where they are and impact them directly in a positive and approachable way, you spread the seeds that will eventually lead to a great flourishing of our global community.
The Dissemination of Environmental Awareness and its Annexation to Social Consciousness
To develop a clear and functional understanding of the biological processes of our environment, study our interactions with them, and attempt to improve upon them is the purpose I choose my major. Environmental Policy and Planning incorporates three different dynamic fields, environmentalism, politics, and planning techniques for development. These three fields have very strong ties that will become increasingly important in the future.
Currently, the economic values of our natural resources are not evaluated on a realistic basis. Our producer driven economic system does not support an everyday environmentally-friendly schedule. What once was a land of bounty is being raped for nothing more than profit at the loss of ideals that we as a nation once held dear. Our environment as well as our politics, and our physical development as a nation are interconnected systems that rely on each other to exist. The habitat we live in provides us with a physical plane on which we can determine how to interact with the habitat itself, the other people, animals, plants and various organisms which are sharing this habitat, and the best methods for organizing, managing and adapting our activities to promote the healthy function of these systems.
Through my studies in various academic organizations I have come to understand that my preferred method of approaching problems is awareness and appreciation of the whole while allowing magnification of more intricate, microscopic, aspects of the issue. Applying analytical knowledge to systems is a successful approach to gaining knowledge and problem solving. The skill of understanding these systems as whole and their interactions with each other, as well as the smaller processes acting within them and allowing them to function is contingent upon positive development. My choice of major reflects my manner of perception, as well as my personality. Human beings have a large impact on their surroundings, and have a large potential for positive growth. The promotion of a lifestyle that is disconnected with nature is the promotion of a wasteful lifestyle. While at the same time the promotion of a stronger connection with our natural world could inspire generations to come, and restore cultural and traditional aspects of human life through environmental appreciation.
A major stepping stone in the current environmental movement which is specifically relevant to us, considering our geographic location is mountain top removal. Mountains in the Appalachian region are marbled with rich coal seams. Modern mining methods have embraced mountaintop removal, which is the use of explosives to completely destroy the upper parts of the mountains so that the coal can be easily accessed. The “fill,” or debris, from what once used to be a mountain is then deposited into the surrounding valleys. The coal is then washed in slurry ponds, which seep water contaminated with heavy metals into nearby water killing off fish and other organisms which cannot tolerate the polluted water. Damaging our natural systems that provide vital services like cleaning water, providing sources of food for other organisms, and diversifying our environment are small issues that affect the major functioning of our environment. I am mentioning both mountaintop removal, and App Voices, because they are important on a local level and they involve key aspects of my major. As a local organization Appalachian Voices is a very influential non-profit environmental organization focusing on creating awareness of this issue.
Creating awareness of these issues, as App Voices does with their paper, is a key part in educating people about the weight of our impact on our planet, which is a first step towards adapting our lifestyle to be one that is in harmony with our habitat. I would like to be involved in the transition from educating the public about our impacts on the environment, to inspiring the public to make a positive change in their own lives, and possibly the planet. Another prospective direction for someone with a degree in this field would be lobbying for environmental organizations. One specifically dynamic part of this application would include applying biological field research to the justification of environmental regulations and providing a continuous reminder to politicians that people do indeed care about the environment even, and sometimes especially when it is juxtaposed to the economy.
Relevant to the issues of our environment and our economy is the issue of sustainability. Sustainability is an immediately important idea that is under increasing public contemplation these days. A sustainable future in regards to the principles of human rights, environmental protection, encouraging positive ecological economical investments is the goal of my concentration. The concentration of environmental policy and planning is a framework of courses that encourage the development of a conceptual knowledge of our environment and our interactions with it. An effective method for environmental protection is to teach respect and appreciation for the environment we inhabit. Our race populates this earth in common existence with many other life-forms. To reconnect people to the earth from which we arose is a fundamental idea behind positive environmental action and inspiring others to open their minds to a more harmonious existence. There are many changes we need to make in order to attempt to adopt a lifestyle of sustainability, the root of which occur with the initial change of perception from trying to compete with nature and control it, to developing with nature in mind. The principles of sustainability in conjunction with social leadership skills, a foundation in biology, and an array of classes spanning anthropology, geography and planning, Japanese, economics, anthropology, and ethics classes are the preparatory subjects I have studied and will continue to practice. These disciplines together make up integral knowledge formations which together create a functional manner of approaching our sustainability issue. From slowly drawing connections between these fields and observing their interactions a better understanding of the causes of our sustainability problem can be formed. Through the intricate study of these fields and the application of the skills learned from them, the issue of sustainability becomes increasingly accessible. Integration is a necessary fundamental part of IDS studies in general but also is a life skill which serves as a problem solving tool. This concentration is dependent upon the ability to disseminate the integrated parts of knowledge formations, so that the contributing factors can be observed individually, repaired and then reintegrated into the solved, repaired formation.
While approaching problems that occur on a global scale, such as that of sustainability, it is sometimes easier to compare them to a smaller similar example. Organizing a community garden is probably the most local application of this theoretical solution to environmental degradation. Creating a community garden helps to provide positive physical work for multiple people to contribute and gain from. Helping to reach compromise among contributing neighbors, developing an overall conceptual plan of the land available, organizing with diversity and efficiency included in plots, and finally the work of planting everything are managerial tasks I am currently employing to help develop my skills. What I aim to do could be considered to cause social change by providing a positive example for action, however there are many formations of knowledge operating at the same time, not only will I provide a positive role model for environmental responsibility, but I am also in a location where understanding the power relationships between the rental company; which may or may not own the land being used, the neighbors who have different priorities in what should be planted, what should actually be planted considering climate, surrounding plants, and sunlight are all my responsibility to contemplate and take into consideration. Developing a community garden helps promote diverse social growth, for plants and humans and it helps restore the connection between people and the environment that helps support them. Growing fresh food and preparing it can function as a conduit between people and our habitat, and works to help restore a respectful view of the land.
Developing environmental policy and planning for a sustainable future are two tremendous goals that cannot be accomplished without the skills required to manage and organize tremendous efforts. By redeveloping a cultural respect for the land which feeds us, and recognizing the potential of organized social progression we can make strides toward a sustainable future. Beyond the conglomeration of different subjects and their connection the IDS core classes help develop a method of meditation designed to help organize and renew the thought processes which are used most in academic studies. Observing the learning method by participation in it and analyzing it, helps to increase efficiency in personal understanding, as well as promote healthy emotional growth. By combining these courses and the ideas they promote I will develop and employ my skills to organize and inspire others to create a positive change in the way we think about and interact with our habitat.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Newell shows multidisciplinary as a collection of ideas and concepts resting side by side, then on the other end you have transdisciplinary that come up with this assortment of goo that has no real components just a greater form to the previous additions, like a smoothie of fruit, and in the middle, balancing the two, you have interdisciplinary. Newell then acknowledges and confronts the most difficult thing about studying anything not defined as a discipline, degrees of synthesis and integration, first defining for the reader what integration is. To be honest, when I first began studying Interdisciplinary Studies it seemed like the easy way out, I could take a wide variety of classes and call it a day. I never thought about the “conceptual framework” or the “locus of activities”. However, reading through Newell it is intriguing to me to see the variety of ways to see this major. I think most people when they hear interdisciplinary studies, and see the courses I have taken see it as multidisciplinary an “absence of any deliberate attempt at integration”. My parents constantly ask “how does this apply or why is this study better than anyone already laid out for you?” I usually brush off their questions telling them that they are old and far removed from the education system that they just don’t see the art and the privilege in this form of study. It is not that we have complete freedom in this study, rather a free reign. I am in control of the study I wish to achieve. I other disciplines you are forced to continue in a cycle of classes and stay in a rigid system. However, just looking at the ten or so people in our class you can see the excitement found in Interdisciplinary Studies, as well as the limits. Looking at the Mission statement found in the same packet of paper, you can see that the authors agree with me. “Knowledges are disconnected by several sets of barriers, including: economic class, disciplinarity (e.g., sciences/humanities), collegiate structures (e.g., education/business), intra-psychic formations, race, ethnicity, gender, and the expert and non-expert”. This is exactly what I was talking about, other disciplines limit students into a specific category and yet even with the path laid out those students find barriers, women just because they are women find limits in pay and advancements, even though we have Equal opportunities people of color still find limits on their learning and their advancements. There are always limits to education but when in a place of study there should be more leeway to study that which is necessary, finding ways to encourage “creative practices in teaching”. There are so many degrees of which you can teach. In this class we all are reaching for different goals. I am working toward creating a non-profit that works with the disabled population. To my right someone is working toward becoming a movie critic or analyst, we have student who want to work in foreign countries, who want to expand the internet, the list continues. The beauty in this form of studying is the freedom we have to explore.
Individually focusing this paper toward my study, it is interesting to see my level of integration from last year to this year. At the beginning I was just taking classes that I thought would help me, so I took some communication classes, and some sociology classes. In my head I was making connections, hearing things repeatedly helped with that aspect, but I was not really integrating the practices into future plans or even discussing them with fellow students and faculty. This year, I am in several IDS specific classes and all I do is talk about my major, rather my life goal and the studies I am in to prepare. Newell would classify me as a fruit basket, interdisciplinary, in the second level of integration. I have a long way to go before I am integrated to the highest degree with a “single, intellectually coherent entity” but I think that is the joy found in this area. All disciplines are mapped out for students, you will take this class your freshman year, and this your senior year. With IDS we have requirements and things to work toward like the portfolio but classes are not laid out the same. I think this is one of the hardest things for me is actually sitting down to look at all the classes offered and deciding which one would be more beneficial to me. Another struggle is knowing that this is the proper way of achieving my future goals, if employers in my early year out of college will see my plan as crafty, original and exciting or as lazy and an easy way out.
I have talked with several employers to get their opinion and I have come up with this sense of peace. All of them agree that is the employee has a heart for their studies no matter what it is, and show true desire to execute their learning’s in an effective way then they will gladly hire them. So for me, I need to work on making sure the classes I am taking are teaching me but that I am being receptive to the lessons and having an open mind to hear something new!
Theories of Interdisciplinarity
That Nice Little Grey Area
The reading of the multi-author packet highlighted several ideas for application of Interdisciplinarity. Newell defined the differences between Interdisciplinarity, Multidisciplinarity, and Transdisciplinarity. I think he does a rather good job at it; describing Multidisciplinarity as a collection of know ledges, at ones disposal, Transdisciplinarity as a very comprehensive subject that then becomes its own monster. Whereas, Interdisciplinarity is a middle-ground to these two ideas. I liked the reprint of a definition for Interdisciplinarity from the Handbook of the Undergraduate. (San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass, 1997)
I personally liked the one from Carp/Wentworth about our program. “We were never comfortable being a department and cannot be a discipline with a particular object of study, but that we have no subject matter is not true; our subject is whatever makes the world whole.” To me that speaks about the all encompassing nature of Interdisciplinarity and its application to the world. I think it is very important that as long as we know how we can take the unique conglomeration of knowledge we are acquiring and apply it to life/the world around us.
The relevance holds true to my own field of study as well. As an IDS: Asian Studies with a Concentration on Japan Major, I initially had a hard time attempting to figure out the underlying direction of my knowledge progression. But seeing as I found myself inherently drawn towards a minor in Teaching English as a Second Language I think that I found an application to work towards. Then it was just the problem of how to prepare myself to integrate these different pieces of knowledge I had acquired from my time, at Appalachian State, to my Interdisciplinarity. I have found that by melding my brief studies of other languages, my knowledge of second language acquisition and my understanding of what makes one “Japanese” I think my Interdisciplinarity would be better defined into something like a “Scholar in Japanese Identity and Language Acquisitionist.” For I have learned much about Languages, acquiring them, societal impacts, and Japanese society. This makes me great for teaching Japanese to Americans in NC or English to native “Japanese.” But I would not go so far as to cross say I have crossed the line in to Transdisciplinarity in that I am a Japanese teacher of a TESL teacher.
I am certified as one but I still have much to learn in that aspect because the focus of my studies have centered around “Japanese.” And my own personal Pedagogy (http://www.appstate.edu/~wl65727/will_page.html) requires a strong connection to the learner. For one to have a strong connection to the learner it is important to meet them on a cultural and personal level. That is why I would not personally qualify myself as an ESL teacher, but as a good candidate for teaching in Japanese to Americans, or teaching English to Japanese.
Because of my situation I have had to search hard to find corollaries between everyday lessons and their application to my field of study. But it has been possible ever since I decided on my major. Because of what I have to prepare myself for in the future every aspect of my college experience has been a great learning experience. From the odd roommates, to the amazing professors everything can be further applied in life once I am able to reach a summation point (probably my senior seminar portfolio) in which I tie everything together. That is when I will probably be able to consider myself a student of Interdisciplinarity.
However, Currently I would have to say that I am more of a Multidisciplinarian. I have so much knowledge spread out in the different fields of study that I have yet to tie together. But being in my shoes I must be the one to do it because of my intention to go teach abroad and then follow up with hopefully international relations in Northern Japan in reference to territorial disputes between the technically warring states of Russia and Japan. So I will have to also apply my nonacademic experiences of international relations and personal life skills of mediating disagreements, but then applying the my knowledge of historical and cultural influences that could sway the tide, but also learning the new cultural influences of Russo-Identity.
In conclusion, I would have to say that my personal journey through the world of interdisciplinary is still incomplete in that I cannot self consider myself among the few that are interdisciplinary. Besides the fact that there is a limit to the knowledge we can contain and apply I think that it is very important for us to seek to better ourselves through our gaining of all knowledge and consuming it and applying it to the world around us.
The multi-authored packet presents a series of theories on what not only being interdisciplinary really is and what it means, but also how unlike circumstances could raise questions which displays the “differences of opinions” in how to define interdisciplinary work.
One definition of interdisciplinary work is established in the very beginning of the article. Julie Thompson Klein and William Newell describe it has “Interdisciplinary studies may be defined as a process of answering a question, solving a problem, or addressing a topic too broad or complex to be dealt with adequately by a single discipline or profession...” Steve Fuller and Bryan Turner offer another perspective however. “I want to move away from the common idea that interdisciplinary pursuits draw their strength from building on the methods and findings of established fields. Instead, my goal is to present models of interdisciplinary research that call into question the differences between disciplines involved, and thereby serve as forums for the renegotiation of disciplinary boundaries,” Fuller writes. Turner looks to the same perspective as he writes, “interdisciplinary aims in principle at academic fusion…it seeks a recognizable and integration of disciplines.”
Taking into consideration these terms of interdisciplinarity, Newell (who is the driving force behind the entire article) explains that to first conceptualize definitions one must also have an understanding of what integration or synthesis is. He describes how the four issues (the nature of interdisciplinarity, its outcomes, the role of disciplines, and the nature of synthesis or integration) all affect the other in a certain way or other. Three “distinct visions” can come from the idea of integration and synthesis to get a better understanding of it: conceptual framework, comprehensive perspective, and a locus of activity. The conceptual framework essentially pertains to the idea of creating a foundation so that the disciplinary actions can proceed, i.e. just some basic research of what the intentions are for your interdisciplinary work. A comprehensive perspective is a more detailed conceptual framework – it is “a larger, more holistic understanding of the question, problem, or issue at hand.” (Klein and Newell) The locus of activity is another concept of research, but it is the ultimate goal to reach – where the main focuses of study come together as “interdisciplinary” to create the common goal.
So then the questions arise, some being what is changed? And must integration succeed to be interdisciplinary? This leads to the confusion of how interdisciplinary can be specific as a discipline itself. As a result, degrees of interdisciplinary have been proposed, such as the lowest degree is that integration is left entirely up to the students, and so on.
The mission statement, vision statement and the manuscript by Carp and Wentworth of the IDS department are included, but I would only like to focus myself of the part of the packet just discussed.
I have held for some time my theory on social issues, which in my opinion lead to every other issue in the world, being affected by the way humans communicate with each other. Being a military child my entire life living around the world when told to, but also having an open mind about most issues, has led to an interdisciplinary mindset. I find it easy to take the strict structure mindset and mixing it with a liberal mindset to create an overall idea of whatever is at hand. Therefore I tend to agree with both definitions presented, while the work I’m doing is more appropriate with Fuller and Tuner’s definition as an academic fusion. Taking the construction of the Communication Studies discipline and fusing it with the Interdisciplinary layout of Third World Studies simply by taking the planned classes within the same vicinity of each other (i.e. within the same semester) to examine the comparisons of each discipline and to understand how the two disciplines can become something greater for my theory, with of course not losing the boundaries of what the disciplines are (but not individually designing my major). It can be complicated because it is hard to sit down and think about which courses directly affiliate with another in different departments, but there are moments when a subject will come up in class that was brought up in another class and in which the courses have nothing to do with one another – which gives me hope that my two disciplines can really become interdisciplinary.
All in all, my conceptual framework is laid out, but I am now beginning to dive into the comprehensive perspective aspect of my interdisciplinary work because of the way courses are beginning to overlap though they are not technically related, thus everything is working out as I planned. I feel that the locus of activity part of synthesis
will not occur until I begin practicing my degree in the appropriate manner (after university), but so far everything is looking like it won’t be as difficult as initially planned for my overall interdisciplinary work.
Fish poses that this vision of interdisciplinarity is incompatible with its accompanying epistemology – that meaning and knowledge are not simply “there”, but are produced by a system that escapes the foundations which it enables. In other words, the system which enables knowledge formations can not be presented, is ignorant of itself, and always “excludes more than it reveals” (Fish 243). If bringing to light the constructions and conditions of knowledge depends on viewing them through a perspective similarly constructed and veiled, then interdisciplinarity cannot free us from bound knowledge; new boundaries will be formed and knowledge formations will continue to be constrained within historical, institutional, and cultural contexts. If interdisciplinarity is defined by the breaking free of such cages, then interdisciplinarity understood in accordance with this epistemological view is quite impossible.
How, then, can culturally determined perspectives and knowledges be surveyed? If the concepts and vocabularies within my fields of study define themselves in relation to one another as well as shape my own thought processes, is there a possibility of being interdisciplinary? These problems are particularly relevant to my course of study, as I am examining processes by which power structures and social movements evolve, cultures clash and interact, and revolutions succeed. A shifting academic structure greatly parallels a shifting social structure. If it is impossible to break out of the “prison houses of our various specialties” (Fish 244), how will the walls between academia and the “outside world” be broken? If we are again to be enclosed by partiality of knowledge in our attempts to free ourselves from such boundaries, will we continually be dominated by powers out of our reach, oppressed by our own partial and situated knowledges? Will any social revolution repress us by new and unforeseen boundaries, institutional orders, structures of power? These questions are central both to this article and to the study of social change and power.
I must agree with Stanley Fish that this particular view of radical interdisciplinarity is incompatible with the epistemology accompanying it. I do not believe, however, that revolutionary reconstruction of disciplinary boundaries, and of larger society, is fruitless, impossible, or should be viewed as merely reshaping the cages we inhabit. Although our knowledge is always partial and constructed, we can change many of the channels through which it is formed. I reconcile these problems of radical political interdisciplinarity with this epistemological view by posing that revolution is to be understood in terms of a constant process of reconstituting boundaries in spite of, and in light of, the obfuscatory nature of knowledge. As long as boundaries exist within knowledge, a revolutionary potential exists within those boundaries. Interdisciplinarity, then, is always a revolutionary avenue and instrument, and is not limited to movement between the spaces between academic disciplines; it is a character of people moving and learning in the world, reconstructing boundaries and knowledges to suit their needs.
A goal within my own field of study is the transgression of boundaries between academia and public participation. My own purpose for individually designing an interdisciplinary degree is to equip myself with knowledge and theory necessary to guide my political activity outside an academic sphere after graduation. I wish to create new ways in which to know and move in the world. By constructing knowledges in an interdisciplinary, or integrative manner, boundaries can be broken, new pathways can emerge, and we can each participate in many disciplines or knowledge formations in order to shape and be shaped by an ever-changing world.
By studying social theory in relation to anthropology, history in relation to philosophy, new questions will arise, new boundaries will be formed and broken, and new possibilities for understanding the wholeness of the world will emerge. The wholeness of the world will remain hidden, partially concealed, but always filled with revolutionary potential. I must regularly ask myself, in what forms will newly constructed edifices of knowledge arise, by what means can I alter the paths of their construction to attend to our present dilemmas, and in what way is my participation in this system of formation affecting the change I wish to see?
Here at Appalachian State University I am studying film. This school does not technically have a film studies program so I am studying it through Interdisciplinary Studies. I am pulling classes from the English department, the Curriculum and Instruction department, the Theatre and possibly the Communications departments. My main focus will be on the technical aspect of film because that is what I am most passionate about.
The classes I am taking from the English department are Introduction to Film, Survey of World Cinema I and II, Advanced Studies in Film, and possibly Film Theory and Criticism or Screenwriting. The two classes I am taking from the Curriculum and Instruction department are Introduction to Sight and Sound and Beginning Video Production. The only class I know of right now that I will take in the Theatre department is Producing the Narrative Film, but I think there is a film workshop offered over the summer by the same professor as the production course. I do not know if I am going to take any classes from the Communications department because I think they are more geared towards television production not films.
I had originally planned to major in English with the concentration in film, but when I went to each one of my classes one semester I knew I would not last. English is not even close to one of my favorite subjects, so majoring in it would have been pure torture! After that I was shopping around different majors trying to figure something out, I looked at the Communications major, Business major, and a few others. I even considered transferring schools until someone told me about the Interdisciplinary Studies program. I looked into it and immediately made an appointment with Richard Carp. After the meeting I had a vague idea of the classes I wanted to take because I already knew all the film classes from the English department.
As for my portfolio, I have put a lot of thought into it and I figured out that I’m going to make a website and create links to everything I do that relates to my major. Any films that I make, reviews that I write, papers that I write that relate to interdisciplinarity. The only thing I haven’t figured out yet is whether I’m going to strictly follow the portfolio requirements or create my own guidelines. I have a few papers I have written for Praxis that might be able to go in the portfolio, along with papers I have written for Introduction to Film and Survey of World Cinema I. The only actual film I have made was the one from the Apple iMovie Contest and once I actually create the website I will put it up. I will also create a link to my Introduction to Sight and Sound website because there are a lot of great projects I have done in that class that would fit well in the portfolio.
Monday, December 1, 2008
P.S. the goat cheese, and the molasses alone are worth the trip.
The Andy Warhol Exhibit was an enjoyable event to attend. There was a live Jazz band in the northwestern wing of the Turchin Center and a DJ playing remixed period themed songs. Energy was bouncing around the room with the music and imagery stirring imaginations. People were flowing around socializing, celebrating, and absorbing the effect of Warhol’s art.
The easily graspable Polaroid photography of well-to-do clients and models were intriguing, and almost nostalgic. Rich women slathered in white makeup and posed in highly dramatic poses, Warhol’s photographic plastic surgery was way ahead of its time reflecting the current usage programs to alter digital photographs to achieve astounding contrast in portrait photography.
The event was interdisciplinary in that it was a social celebration of previously unobservable art being delivered to the public, so that more people can be inspired by the artist’s unique sense and portrayal of ideas. There was a feeling of attending an exhibition with Warhol’s presence that was generated by the atmosphere.
The main connection between this event and my studies are purely the social and inspirational factors. Believing in the interconnectedness of human beings, or Warhol’s famous idea that everyone has 15 minutes of fame resonates with increasing global awareness, and the rapid adoption of new technology. The social aspect of generating the aura of the artist and creating his influence through both the physical art and peoples reactions to it is similar to the philosophical and anthropological focus of my major.
The other event I attended was the Watauga County Farmers Market. The market is an ongoing community gathering on Saturdays through the temperate seasons. Fresh produce and crafts are available from local vendors and crafters. This market is a good way to support local businesses and find high quality produce and crafts at reasonable prices. It’s also a cultural display of the products of the region. Through these physical items and comparing them with mass-produced items we can attempt to attain a better understanding of the real importance of our connection with the environment.
Buying local food and supporting locally owned businesses are two important concepts in promoting sustainability. Purchasing food that has been grown with traditional methods, and has been transported under one hundred miles prevents a lot of energy consumption and helps to establish a fundamental connection between the people inhabiting an area and the products of the land in that area. Supporting local business ensures the continual progress of the area, rather than slowly filtering funds to larger corporations that threaten inter-industry competition and prevent the consumer from having a variety of choices concerning production methods.
The market is also a great place to see friends, enjoy local musicians, pick up some seriously good food, and find some well made handcrafts. All parts of the reason why it exemplifies my studies in connecting the community with the environment, and exposing how fruitful the labors can be.
Carp’s article divulges Newell’s beliefs that the disciplines are the foundations of interdisciplinarity (p. 78). In Newell’s words, “By definition, interdisciplinary study draws insights from relevant disciplines and integrates those insights into a more comprehensive understanding” (p. 83). Carp acknowledges Newell as an integral part of defining interdisciplinarity over the last thirty years, but fears that interdisciplinary study is losing more than it gains.
Carp talks of, “…creative insurgency—a desire to change the structures through which knowledge is generated and disseminated by confounding, resisting, transforming, and replacing existing institutional forms (perhaps in perpetuity)” (p. 85). Carp describes his understanding of interdisciplinary study as, “a search not only for new ‘knowledge’ but also of new ways to know and of new ‘things’ to be known, including new social relations that generate and validate knowledge, new spatial experience giving rise to new ‘knowing subjects,’ and new dimensions for knowledge (p. 85). The Integrative Praxes article wants to push past the constraints of disciplinary structures and open up dialogue to future foundations of knowledge systems.
What I have gathered from reading this article is that Western knowledge is based on a disciplinary knowledge formation that is only two centuries old. The disciplines formed, to keep our capitalist society moving smoothly for the people who created it. With the academy in place, it solidified people’s status and the cycle began. With this new knowledge system in place other forms of attaining knowledge fell to the wayside; with new technology comes new problems needing solutions.
Carp eventually begins to use the phrase, “integrative praxes” instead of interdisciplinarity. With interdisciplinary studies relying heavily on a disciplinary foundation, Carp prefers a vocabulary that encompasses a broader range of knowledge formations. These formations would come from other forms of learning such as, the knowledge of woman and mothers, the knowledge of apprenticeship, the knowledge from our bodies, and many more. When different types of knowledge come together, Carp says life happens.
The objective of Carp’s article is to clarify that the goal of the journey of knowledge formation is to live well (p. 71). Throughout his article, Carp describes and explains that knowledge comes from everything we do not just one institution or one experience. “The world we study is the world we live, and our studying of it is one component of our living in it. But the end and goal of all our studying is our life” (p.112).
Thus far in my life, my knowledge formations for the majority have come from inside the academy. I was taught from a young age that school was the way to do what you wanted in your life. No questions asked, until I went to college. The knowledge processes I cherish, and am most passionate about have come from other sources. I have learned so much from family and family history. Travel experiences and work experiences have taught me more than I could have learned from sitting in a blank classroom. I began learning about art on my own somehow, but wanted to take classes. My art degree is coming from a foundation of disciplinarity, but I do not believe that it had to happen in that way. Through my interdisciplinary studies, I have gained the knowledge and foundation to now see this. I have learned a great deal, I do not mean to discount it, but I feel strongly that there are other ways for me to learn and I know I will discover them. The academy is only one way to form knowledge processes and now, I am more confident in exploring other means of acquiring knowledge for myself in the future.
The overall goal of “living well” along with a lifetime of learning is a belief I share with Richard Carp. Reading his article, revitalized my thoughts and feelings about a lifetime of learning. The path I have taken for knowledge, I do not feel, could have been satiated in a disciplinary department. I feel this because, “living well” is what motivates my journey and takes me to unexpected places. Knowing that I am becoming more and more comfortable as a perpetual learner.
December 2, 2008
It Really Does Take A Village…
In the multi-authored packet of information on interdisciplinarity, there are several points that explain not only what interdisciplinary studies means, but also the several ways by which to obtain the goals and why they are hard to do. Klein and Newell see the goal as being “a more comprehensive perspective”; i.e., a larger more holistic understanding of the question, problem, or issue at hand.” Today the world has many problems that can only be solved by pulling resources from many areas to achieve the most complete answer. It is true that within a given situation, one must pull from sources that do make some sense in their relations to one another. Fuller discussed the concept of “interpenetration” which is described as a “process that transforms the disciplines in ways that help them to see each other as engaged in a common enterprise. Not every discipline interacts with each other well, but finding the ones that do correlate and using them to achieve one greater good is vital.
In my concentration, environmental stewardship is a means by which certain social problems can be solved. This will require several steps. First a specific problem must be defined as having the ability to somehow be answered. Within the range of environmental concerns as well as socioeconomic ones, there is an ocean of possibility. One simply cannot justify that their knowledge of the breeding habits of whales will bring world peace. More plausible connections can however be made that can help both the environment and the quality of life for today’s children and families.
The question of helping to better the lives of children through addressing the problems of the environment concurrently is still a difficult one, which does require knowledge of several fields. One must understand from geological and environmental standpoints, what is going on with the Earth itself. Also in examining environmental links to social problems, there must be an understanding of social problems themselves. The most difficult aspect of determining an interdisciplinary course on a seemingly broad topic is that the interdisciplinary approach needs to be able to create the solution or it is not useful. Sometimes it takes a lot of simultaneous instruction or field study to see the connections that can make this happen. As the author Bal has found, there are links to sources and text from several different areas of study than can provide that more technical proof of the necessity of integration to solve an issue.
In working with children in their early years on a microscale, I got a personal view of what is needed for a child to properly grow and be well integrated into society. Strangely at first, I noticed connections between their personal environments and their personal growth. Several children had chronic asthma and could not play outdoors in temperatures that were too high because the chemical content in the air was bad for them. The ozone depletion has affected their ability to go out into the sunlight as children should. Sunlight helps the absorption of vitamin D that helps them grow strong. Children with weaker bone structure and general health in infant or toddler stages could potentially have long term problems with bone growth.. As well, their teeth may be more prone to cavities and diseases of the mouth that could later in life actually affect the heart, if badly enough infected. Also, pesticides and additives in foods and toys children put in their mouths have been linked to mental impairments and conditions from ADD to autism. One last point on this, is that the sun is vital for mental health as well, so not being able to go outside because air quality is so bad is a pretty sad thing. On the other side of the chemical coin, not using pesticides in playgrounds are leading to higher rates of tick and other insect related diseases. Parents react to these problems by trying to keep everything sanitized so much so that children as a whole are less immune to certain communicable diseases because they do not have enough healthy bacteria in their bodies, which can lead to overuse of antibiotics and steroids to combat the illnesses.
These personal issues have become wide scale because of the lack of concern for what is put into foods, toys, textiles, and building materials. Add that to the depletion of resources and the problems will only get bigger. Special needs classes are becoming more of a norm than they ever should be. Many parents who have to constantly deal with expensive treatments and schooling issues have to work longer hours to physically take care of their children especially in this economy, that families have much less time and energy for simply having fun.
The reason I chose this specific issue to describe is to illustrate how closely related we are to our habitats. Everyday lives have become very complicated, and that is before the factors of war, direct dire poverty, and natural disasters that humans are escalating with our consumption patterns; buy now, pay later. Unfortunately, people are having to pay much sooner than expected for what they do right now. This issue has to be dealt within a multidiscipline because the chain reaction it long. My personal experiences with sustainability, sociology, child care, and technology and design shape the way I will approach this issue. Changing home environments and small communities to support healthier lifestyles of the American family is a reasonable mission, but as of now, few companies and builders are as concerned as they need to be because they have not studied long term effects of fast and cheap. Being involved in community planning and home environmental counseling for families of infants is one way that can begin to reverse the downward turn. The ideas really are more like a fruit basket than a puzzle because there is no one right answer for every situation. However, noticing patterns ahead of time and trying to keep children healthy as opposed to expensively treating their illnesses, can save families money and time but more importantly, children’s present well being and future on this planet.