While the ideathon competition was certainly different than originally anticipated this summer, I believe that has been one of the most personally valuable aspects of the Brackenridge so far. While we have interdisciplinary aspects throughout our meetings and workshops, through the ideathon our different modes of research came together, and we had to figure out how to work together to create a research proposal that coalesced all of our specialties. This activity changed my perspective about interdisciplinary research, as I honestly thought it would be easier than it was. Because of the diversity of disciplines, everyone in our group had a different way of approaching our topic of financial aid. We all had varying personal and professional experiences with financial aid, and our different approaches to research made it a challenge (in the best way possible!) to try to figure out an angle toward our research that would fit in all of our disciplines.
Our team excelled at communicating outside of our discipline by talking about our strengths in our disciplines before we even began to work on our topic proposal. From there, we were able to brainstorm and narrow down our topic keeping in mind how the research must fit into everyone’s discipline, and how everyone could participate in the proposed research process. It was a bit difficult to remotely refine our ideas, but our team’s creativity and focus was an incredible asset!
This activity definitely made me rethink areas of my research. In the humanities, so much of our research revolves around highlighting problems. I approach much of my research with the rejection of empiricism from a feminist perspective, meaning that I question certain scientific ‘truths’ based on overriding patriarchy, heteronormativity, and racism that is so ingrained in the philosophy of western science. Working with others in STEM and traditional sciences, I struggled to get back into the mindset of a traditional scientific method proposal. From my experience, research is asking a lot of questions and highlighting societal issues. And while oftentimes there is a proposed solution to those questions, it is often highlighting areas of change rather than finding causation and correlations. For my research this summer, I exploring girlhood, and coming up with an analysis of a television show and showing how girlhood has changed, and stayed the same, over time. I’m not proposing a solution to anything, rather noting the historical change. So working with others who have a more distinct and refined area of research provided insight into how I can make my research more direct and succinct. I think that we have a strong proposal, and I am excited to view the research proposals for the other teams!