Many Hands Make Light Work, Many Minds Make…
Sara Taaffe is a recent graduate from Renaissance College, the Faculty of Leadership Studies at the University of New Brunswick. Sara is passionate about solving complex problems and is manifesting that through the development of RECODE Collaborate.
As a student with a Bachelor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Leadership Studies, I can attest to the
importance and value of multidisciplinary collaboration. What I mean by multidisciplinary collaboration is drawing together individuals who all have different backgrounds to collectively work towards a commonly agreed outcome.
The story generally goes that a young person explores different subjects in primary education— science, social studies, english, math, arts, physical activity, drama, and music. From there, students are expected to choose one discipline: science, arts, engineering, or business, and are generally siloed into that discipline for their duration in it. Not only does this deter their natural sense of curiosity to explore other subjects, but it also limits co-creation across different disciplines and mentalities.
How are innovative and creative ideas born with only one mentality on the table?
I can confidently say that an engineer, business student, political science student, and english student can develop a much better solution to a problem, and learn a whole lot more in the process, than a group of four students from the same discipline or faculty.
With a multitude of complex problems, including climate change, food and water security, obesity, armed conflict, and poverty, the human race is situated in a very vulnerable position. Now is the time for brilliant minds to come together and develop meaningful solutions to these complex problems. And it’s time that post-secondary education enables students not only to learn, but to create meaningful action derived from teamwork, open-mindedness, and a willingness to collaborate across disciplines.
The secret is to gang up on the problem, rather than each other.
While studying at Renaissance College, many of my classmates were discovering their leadership capabilities through various areas of passion in which they minored. For me it was business, for others it was environmental science, medicine, or engineering. Because everyone approached class discussions and projects from different disciplines and perspectives, the end results were much more comprehensive.
The ability to collaborate across disciplines enabled us to create meaningful, holistic solutions to complex problems.
In our inaugural year of RECODE Collaborate, 10 higher education institutions will be participating. The groups of students formed at each institution will be tasked with looking at the
status of higher education—an opportunity to critically examine the problems in higher education, and envision what they think higher education should and could look like in the future.
Not only will this empower students to take ownership of their education, it will also allow them to pave the path of what they think higher education should look like. In my eyes, higher education should be a place where students can not only learn, but apply what they learn through action. A place where students can discover their passions by exploring different topics, meeting new people, and working within the community. A place to declare a mission and not a major. This is where sustainable problem solving can be born, problem solving that is going to positively propel our society forward.
What we all need to be aware of is that the problems we face aren’t going anywhere and the longer we take to create solutions, the worse these problems will get. The time has come to join together, and the first step is eliminating the barriers between disciplines that restrict brilliant minds from joining forces to solve society’s most pressing challenges.
To take part in the conversation, follow
@LetsRECODE and #RECODECollab on Twitter. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to answer any questions, guage feedback, and welcome any resources to help move this work forward.