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What Are the Interdisciplinary Humanities?

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  • Written By: Helen Akers
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 05 September 2016
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Interdisciplinary humanities is a program with courses that combine several fields of study to create a holistic perspective. Humanities programs and courses are usually related to literature, the arts, history, and philosophy. In interdisciplinary courses and degree programs, these separate disciplines are used to develop cross-functional skills and show students how these separate fields interact with each other in the real world. Examples of interdisciplinary courses include playwriting, international film, and world culture.

Undergraduate and graduate degree programs in interdisciplinary humanities are widely available in countries and regions such as the United States and the European Union. The main goal of these programs is to develop multiple learning skills related to critical thinking, analysis, writing and research. Interdisciplinary humanities programs study the evolution of human behavior, thought, and creativity. The courses often examine and exploit more than one field in order to reveal how they might collectively influence and reflect society.

Multidisciplinary teaching attempts to get students to analyze situations from multiple perspectives. Humanities courses that employ practices from more than one field of study illustrate how separate disciplines may be combined to enhance understanding of a particular topic or work. Similarities between different disciplines — such as theater and literature — can be used to create new genres and job opportunities. Creative writing skills and knowledge of dramatic structure might be studied simultaneously to see how these functions relate to and depend upon each other.

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Some courses in interdisciplinary humanities examine the idea of social justice and expression through various art forms. For example, a class in international film may familiarize students with foreign culture, filmmaking techniques, and major art movements all at once. A course in feminist studies may show how literature, television programs and visual art have been used to convey the various themes behind women's rights. Some types of interdisciplinary courses may show how social science theories related to economics and business practices can form class divisions in various societies.

In most interdisciplinary humanities courses, students use more than one set of learning skills. For example, a course in aesthetics may teach them how to recognize key characteristics of major art movements, such as expressionism. In the same class, students may also research and develop a project based on a specific artist that will develop their oral presentation and writing skills. They may learn to examine why an artist might choose a specific technique and why society is more apt to interpret a work's effect in a certain fashion.

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