The Interdisciplinary Breakout Rooms of Brackenridge

After 3 weeks of introductions and beginnings of work for the Brackenridge Fellowship this summer, I am extremely excited to dive deeper into the nature of interdisciplinary work. So many of my peers’ projects explore areas of research that I have no prior knowledge about but are extremely fascinating and often combine disciplines that I would’ve never paired together on my own. I am equally as excited to learn from them as I am to be learning on my own and developing my own research this summer. This is the beauty of Brackenridge and our transdisciplinary approach to research, collaboration, and sharing of the collective knowledge. I do not expect to come out an expert in any of these fields or disciplines, but I am excited to experience the breadth across the board that my cohort and peers have to bring to the round table. I hope to learn more about the research methods in other disciplines outside of my own in Mathematics and Classics, to learn more about effectively communicating with peers outside these disciplines, and hope to learn more about looking at the world in a multi-disciplinary lens. This last hope of mine has already been kickstarted by the conversions and discussions we’ve exchanged as scholars in our Breakout Rooms on Zoom. While our Breakout Rooms on Zoom limit our discussion to virtual platforms, rather than face-to-face interaction and collaboration, the Brackenridge has provided this opportunity to bring us all to the same table to share our combined takes on certain topics and issues. I’m excited for the rest of the summer to continue to learn from my peers and continue to deepen my interdisciplinary viewpoint on the world around me as I see it. 

This past week I focused my time exploring the impact of Archimedes’ work and machines on his hometown of Syracuse, Sicily which was a colony of Ancient Greece.

I think some of the projects share similarities by their own nature. One of the projects I really am interested in is Sarah S’s Death and Immorality in Tolkein’s Middle Earth because it is exploring a topic that you normally might not associate with the literature masterpiece but conditioning it with Medieval Literature. Not only does this project fascinate me because I’m a huge LOTR fan, but also because the similarities I draw to my own project. Exploring a topic, socio-economics of Greece and Egypt, being conditioned by the development of early mathematics and mathematicians, which at first glance might not be commonly associated, but after digging a little deeper we see a greater connection and system of ties between the two. 

Another project that intrigued me and I saw similarities with was from my own cohort in Keith Robben’s (Political Theory and Anarchism derived from the Industrial Revolution) because it looks at how the impact of the development of technology and science influenced other sectors of civilization. Other projects in my project that I look forward to learning more about are Ryan Steinly’s and Charlie Taylor’s – I am super excited to hear more and see the development of the work. Lastly, another project that fascinated me at first glance was Adam Nie’s (Personal Mythmaking and the American Presidency) because of his interest in telling stories and how we perceive them. These are just some of the projects that stood out to me but I’m excited to learn more about all the projects and look forward to more interdisciplinary discussions and debates. 

I think the benefits to interdisciplinary work are clear – we become more well rounded in our approaches, in our methods, and in our thinking. By bringing different perspectives and disciplines to the same question or topic we can approach an issue in numerous ways and with a greater advantage than one perspective. Additionally the benefits of interdisciplinary work help clear up how we are presenting our own work and our own discipline because it forces us to remove disciplinary jargon. By involving more disciplines we are forced to be clear and concise in our common language so that everyone at the table can follow and understand the work and conclusions we are drawing from. I think this is both a benefit and challenge, but one we must overcome and Brackenridge will help us do so!

Lastly for a quick update on my work, these past two weeks I looked at the beginnings of Math in Egyptian culture and looked at Egyptian counting which is extremely fascinating and spent time focusing on the famous mathematicians Archimedes and Euclid!

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