Crossing Disciplinary Boundaries

From reading about my cohort’s work, I am so excited to be working with a group that has both developed interesting projects for the summer and seems passionate about their work in the long term. We all have issues we care deeply about, even if we may approach those issues differently.

Ultimately, I think I will learn most from the diversity of backgrounds and ideologies represented. Even though Katelyn and Ian are studying the environment doesn’t mean those of us studying politics and history can’t apply their work directly to our own; when we consider the way in which the environment can influence human behavior (and vice versa) the realms of nature and culture seem less opposed. I would also argue that Katelyn and Ian are directly interested in addressing problems that pertain to culture by demonstrating the impacts of what are ultimately human practices.

I found Luke’s project in particular interesting because it connects the past to the present in a way that I hadn’t previously considered, as someone with career goals in archaeology. Emily’s project also hits home for me. I work for the student newspaper, too, and I think writing about current events requires a sort of reflexivity. How much of what I write is a product of the age in which I live, and of the media which I consume?

Obviously, some disciplines seem (upfront at least) more diametrically opposed than others. I know that I’ll have an easier time working with other humanists, but I also believe that research should be accessible to everyone, and that accessibility applies to diversity in disciplinary background (or even lack thereof). I think that by cutting the jargon out helps us not only communicate better with other researchers, but also question whether or not that jargon was necessary in the first place. So all in all, I think the benefits of interacting with my cohort in the coming weeks will vastly outweigh any of the initial problems we have communicating across boundaries.

Because I love paintings, I want to end with a painting by Pittsburgh artist Russell Smith. In “The Aqueduct, Pittsburgh”, we see the transformation of the natural landscape by human industry, the interaction of people with that transformed landscape, and an individual artist’s reflection on it all, blurring the line between nature and culture.

The Aqueduct, Pittsburgh | CMOA Collection

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