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What Works Statements

What Works: Building Robust Interdisciplinary Programs


Results from the 2003-04 MAA PKAL Biomath Survey
Debra L. Hydorn
PKAL and MAA have collaborated over the past several months to identify programs integrating the life sciences and the mathematical sciences. This is an ongoing project, and further examples of interesting programs are sought.

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Everything I Needed to Know about Averages...I Learned in College
Lynn A. Steen
Undergraduate mathematics, or quantitative reasoning, courses provide a core component to liberal education and apply across all college studies.

Keck Consultation Reports

Implementing Institution-wide Interdisciplinary Programs
The Keck/PKAL Consultation Program
A few faculty from this urban state-funded university developed an integrated science and math curriculum, but the university wishes to scale-up this program beyond the original core of innovators. The consulting team was asked to identify strategies to help these faculty implement a university-wide program.
Interdisciplinary Programs Across Multiple Campuses
The Keck/PKAL Consultation Program
At this community college in the southeast classes are distributed between distinct campuses. Success with a model project that integrated freshman level science and mathematics courses prompted the president to ask a team to help his faculty find ways to expand interdisciplinary opportunities to every campus.


Making connections: To, from, and within the mathematical community
David M. Bressoud, Lynn A. Steen
Authors describe the wide range of activities and publications within the MAA (Mathematical Association of America) that emphasize three broader categories of connections important to their community:
  • connections to and from other disciplines
  • connections within the mathematical sciences
  • connections to the needs of students served by mathematics departments, majors and non-majors.
Science across the curriculum - The Binghamton University Story
Albert H. Tricomi
In 1996, Binghamton University inaugurated its first General Education Program for all students. The process of discussing and approving requirements for this program had an immediate and a lasting effect on how students on our campus experience learning in mathematics and science.
Tendencies in higher education that might affect classical studies
W. Robert Connor
This discussion on the trends that are likely to affect higher education in the next few years focuses on promoting awareness of "the importance (and vitality) of liberal education."
Twenty-first century science and the facilities of the future
Facilities matter, from the perspective of serving new interdisciplinary fields of research as well as of making the learning experience for all undergraduates one that is truly integrative. Some ideas and best practices from the PKAL facilities archive.

Other Resources

How Academic Institutions Can Facilitate Interdisciplinary Research
The report from the National Academies of Science, How Academic Institutions Can Facilitate Interdisciplinary Research, addresses the complexity as well as the necessity of taking a kaleidoscopic perspective, with an intriguing analysis of how to build a research-rich, interdisciplinary learning environment. Their insight, that "at the heart of interdisciplinary is communication— the conversations, connections, and combinations that bring new insights to virtually every kind of scientist and engineer" reinforces both the goals and strategies of 21st century agents of change.
Math and Bio 2010