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Interdisciplinary Research Message from the Chancellor

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Rebecca Chopp

Letter  •

Dear Friends,

Across academia today, you hear calls to "break down silos." As higher education addresses challenges such as meeting enrollment goals, increasing access for academically qualified and traditionally underrepresented students and exploring new ways to increase the effectiveness of our work, these calls center on a need for departments and academic units to work together collaboratively.

These subjects will be the topic of many conversations over the next couple months with the Shape of Knowledge working group (part of the Transformative Directions strategic planning effort). This working group will be consulting with deans, faculty members, students and others on and off campus to think about what the future might look like at DU.

It is important to underscore that providing new opportunities for new forms of scholarship does not in any way mean that traditional disciplines will disappear. As this process unfolds, we will be thinking about how best to support faculty who want to explore new methods of scholarship and teaching, even as we recognize that much work will still be focused within disciplines. We need to create new opportunities for faculty and students, not restrict ongoing and important scholarly work.

Higher education provides the perfect backdrop for such new forms of collaboration. In preparing students to be the world's future leaders, we must encourage them to be agile in learning and to learn to connect information and perspectives. Knowledge is becoming more fluid and accessible, across academic disciplines, across schools and across the globe. Great discoveries and innovative solutions come when we bring forth a combination of ideas, build upon others' research and partner for a common good.

Our students themselves often drive the conversation around such collaborative, or interdisciplinary, work. Our Graduate Student Government provides a wonderful example of the power of interdisciplinary research and collaborative performance in the form of its second annual Graduate Research and Performance Summit on Friday, Jan. 30.

The theme of the summit is "Building Bridges across the Disciplines." The daylong event will consist of poster sessions and panel presentations highlighting the impressive graduate work being done at DU. Our graduate students invite the DU community to join them as they showcase and celebrate interdisciplinary scholarship, which involves the process of answering complex questions and solving problems that cannot be addressed within the bounds of a discipline.

There is much we can learn from this work and from each other, as we continue breaking down the silos to find the best ideas and solutions for our future. Learn more about the Graduate Research and Performance Summit and registration.

Rebecca S. Chopp
Chancellor, University of Denver