In my time at university I have mostly studied mathematics and economics. However, my passion for science, politics, philosophy, and history has meant that I have always kept interested in other fields – and am now researching in them!
A lot of us are Looking at History
One great thing about studying history is that you can have both projects like mine, a more macro-level, sweeping narrative of how the industrial revolution changed a political ideology, and projects like Charlie’s or Emily’s which focus on specific people, places or communities which are then viewed as part of some larger social or historical context. Further, you can even study the history and development of a separate field you are a part of, just like Luke is doing with his project on how math has shaped the development of society.
All of these projects are not only historical in nature but political as well. Charlie’s project tackles controversial topics such as masculinity and femininity, Emily’s study of school newspapers is motivated by and has implications for gender politics writ large, and Luke’s project studies the place of math in war and economics.
I can wait to dive into your research on these topics, and learn about communities I would have otherwise never known about, or effects of global events I would have never considered, and especially how one of my favorite fields – math – has affected history.
Some are Looking into Politics
Other projects, while sometimes having a historical nature, are much more heavily focused on the politics. This is true of Ryan’s study looking into the challenges non-native English speakers face when immigrating to PA, and, obviously, Adam’s look into how humanity’s desire to turn everything into a story affects presidential politics. Both of these projects, whatever their findings end up being, would likely have very obvious and actionable policy/political implications. Something my more abstract project is sorely lacking in.
Being in favor of incredibly pro-immigrant polices (I sincerely want completely open borders), I would love to know more about the challenges English-learning immigrants face when immigrating to PA. While my dad is a dutch immigrant to the United States, he was already proficient in English before he arrived, and so I know very little about these people and their struggles.
Then There’s our Resident Scientist
Katelyn’s project on using florescence to identify pollutants in water is fascinating. Up until right before university, I always thought I was going to go be an engineer, or go into one of the hard sciences like physics or chemistry. I hope this project exposes me to a bit of the things I may have been working on if I had chosen a different path.
Working Across Disciplines
I see the benefits of working with people across disciplines as being an example of the more general benefits of the division of labor and specialization. No one person can hope to know everything from every field and so by working together with those from different fields from our own, we can leverage the knowledge of others which we wouldn’t have access to otherwise. This is likely to lead to better research and, if the project is more practical, better outcomes.
Obstacles to doing so come mostly in the form of communication issues relating to jargon and incorrectly assumed common knowledge. But if these problem are kept in mind, they can be effectively dealt with.