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Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies

Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies

Second Edition

464 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
The Second Edition provides a comprehensive introduction to interdisciplinary studies with an approach that is succinct, conceptual, and practical. Completely updated to reflect advances in the literature on research, learning, and assessment, the book describes the role of both disciplines and interdisciplinarity within the academy, and how these have evolved. Authors Allen F. Repko, Rick Szostak, and Michelle Phillips Buchberger effectively show students how to think like interdisciplinarians in order to facilitate their working with topics, complex problems, or themes that span multiple disciplines.

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About the Authors
1. Interdisciplinary Studies in the Real World
Why Interdisciplinary Studies Matters

What Is Driving Interdisciplinary Studies Today

The Academic Benefits of Pursuing an Interdisciplinary Studies Degree

Interdisciplinary Studies and Your Career Development

Critical Thinking Questions

Applications and Exercises

2. The Rise of the Modern Disciplines and Interdisciplinarity
Why the Past Matters

The Rise of the Modern Disciplines

The Rise of Interdisciplinarity

Interdisciplinarity’s Criticism of the Disciplines

Critical Thinking Questions

Applications and Exercises

3. Interdisciplinary Studies Defined
Why Definitions Matter

Defining Interdisciplinary Studies

Differences Between Disciplinarity, Multidisciplinarity, Interdisciplinarity, and Transdisciplinarity

Two Conceptions of Interdisciplinarity

Useful Metaphors of Interdisciplinary Studies

Critical Thinking Questions

Applications and Exercises

4. The Interdisciplinary Studies “Cognitive Toolkit”
How She Did It

Intellectual Capacities


Traits and Skills

Ways to Apply Your Interdisciplinary “Toolkit”

Critical Thinking Questions

Applications and Exercises

5. Academic Disciplines
Disciplines and Disciplinarity Defined

The Epistemic, Social, and Organizational Dimensions of Disciplines

The Concept of Disciplinary Perspective

The Defining Elements of a Discipline

Critical Thinking Questions

Applications and Exercises

6. The “DNA” of Interdisciplinary Studies
Assumptions of Interdisciplinary Studies

Theories Supportive of Interdisciplinary Studies

Epistemology of Interdisciplinary Studies

How Interdisciplinary Studies “Sees”

Critical Thinking Questions

Applications and Exercises

7. Thinking Critically About Disciplinary Perspectives
What It Means to Think Critically About Disciplinary Perspectives

Developing a Sophisticated Conception of Knowledge

Why Interrogate Disciplinary Perspectives (or Practice Critical Pluralism)

How Interdisciplinarians Interrogate Disciplinary Perspectives

Critical Thinking Scenario

Critical Thinking Questions

Applications and Exercises

8. Thinking Critically About Disciplinary Insights
Critical Thinking Attitudes

Categories of Statements

Critically Analyzing Disciplinary Insights

Mapping Interdisciplinary Connections

Critical Thinking Questions

Applications and Exercises

9. Thinking Critically About Integration and Its Results
Approaches to Interdisciplinary Integration

The Broad Model Approach to Integration

Strategies for Integration

The Result of Integration

Reflecting on What Was Achieved

Critical Thinking Scenario

Critical Thinking Questions

Applications and Exercises

10. An Interdisciplinary Research “Road Map”
The Power and Usefulness of Research

Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Approaches to Research

The Broad Model of the Interdisciplinary Research Process

STEP 1: Define the Problem or State the Research Question

STEP 2: Justify Using an Interdisciplinary Approach

Critical Thinking Questions

Applications and Exercises

Peer Evaluation Activity

11. Identifying Relevant Disciplines and Gathering Information About the Problem
STEP 3: Identify Relevant Disciplines

STEP 4: Conduct a Literature Search

The Broad Model Rubric Applied to STEPS 3 and 4

Critical Thinking Questions

Critical Thinking Scenario

Peer Evaluation and Edit Activity

12. Analyzing Insights and Reflecting on Process
STEP 5: Critically Analyze the Disciplinary Insights Into the Problem

STEP 6: Reflect on How an Interdisciplinary Approach Has Enlarged Your Understanding of the Problem


Critical Thinking Questions

A. Intellectual Autobiography
B. Student Portfolios and Blogging
C. Service Learning, Internships, and Alternative Projects for Nontraditional Students
D. The Broad Model Rubric: Instructor Version and Sample Student Outline
E. Answer Key
Glossary of Key Terms


Instructor Teaching Site

Password-protected Instructor Resources include the following: 

  • A Microsoft® Word test bank, is available containing multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and essay questions for each chapter. The test bank provides you with a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity for editing any question and/or inserting your own personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding.
  • Editable, chapter-specific Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides offer you complete flexibility in easily creating a multimedia presentation for your course. Highlight essential content and features.

Chapter-specific slide presentations offer assistance with lecture and review preparation by highlighting essential content, features, and artwork from the book.

Chapter-specific slide presentations offer assistance with lecture and review preparation by highlighting essential content, features, and artwork from the book.

“With its clear examples, interesting analogies, and detailed deconstruction of interdisciplinary studies (IDS), this text really helped my students to “get” IDS and interdisciplinarity. It breaks down the process into manageable and understandable parts.”

Mallory Koci
Emporia State University
peer review

“This text provides a good foundation for the bigger picture of interdisciplinary studies—as a cognitive process, and a different way of thinking that may lead to new solutions for complex real-world problems.”

Michele C. Everett
Coastal Carolina University
peer review

"The book effectively lays out the concepts that underlie both interdisciplinary and disciplinary approaches, positioning them as complementary rather then setting them in opposition.  The later chapters offer practical ways to implement this approach that have proven effective in helping my students define, research, and produce actual interdisciplinary work."   

Dr. David Sidore
Middle Georgia State University

Repko and the other authors give a clearly defined and easily understandable explanation of interdisciplinary studies, especially for students who have not previously been introduced to the process. I continually receive comments from students who tell me how helpful the text was for them.

Dr Charles Hamilton
June 28, 2017

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 9

Allen F. Repko

Allen F. Repko, PhD, is the former director of the interdisciplinary studies program in the School of Urban and Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington, where he developed and taught the program’s core curriculum for many years. The program is one of the largest in the United States. Repko has written extensively on all aspects of interdisciplinary studies, has twice served as coeditor of the interdisciplinary journal Issues in Integrative Studies, and has served on the board of the Association for Interdisciplinary Studies (AIS). More About Author

Richard Szostak

Rick Szostak, PhD, is professor and chair of economics at the University of Alberta, where he has taught for 34 years. He is the author of a dozen books and 50 articles, all of an interdisciplinary nature. Several of his publications address how to do interdisciplinary research, teach interdisciplinary courses, administer interdisciplinary programs, or organize information in order to facilitate interdisciplinarity. As an associate dean, he created the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Alberta, the Science, Technology and Society program, an individualized major, and two courses about interdisciplinarity. He has... More About Author

Michelle Phillips Buchberger

Michelle Phillips Buchberger, PhD, is an assistant professor of integrative studies at Miami University. She previously proposed, developed and chaired the B.S. Interdisciplinary Studies program at Franklin University. She currently co-chairs the Alpha Iota Sigma international honors society for interdisciplinary studies and has presented and written on topics including teaching interdisciplinary studies online, working with nontraditional students, and creative thinking in interdisciplinary studies. She teaches several courses about interdisciplinarity, including theories and methods of interdisciplinary studies and integrative studies... More About Author

Also available as a South Asia Edition.