The ideathon was an activity unlike anything I have really done before. While the whole of the Brackenridge Fellowship has been interdisciplinary via the community it creates, the ideathon granted a more ‘hands-on’ experience to the functioning of interdisciplinary research and working in a community of diverse researchers. Though we are not executing the proposal we created as a normal research team would do, the process in creating, molding, and fine-tuning aspects of the proposal made it feel very much so real.
In essence, if I had a perspective on interdisciplinary research prior to this project, it would be a naïve one at best. Now, I see it as an effective way to comprehensively solve a problem. Many challenges faced in society are multi-faceted and not encompassed solely in the work of one field. Thus, using a diverse community of researchers, each with their own expertise, to collaborate on one project results in a better approach to tackling most problems.
In communicating our ideas to others, it was best to explain firstly how those ideas pertained to the project/task at hand, then delve into greater depth after that was understood. Methods of research were definitely the hardest to talk about because it is the least uniform aspect across all disciplines and my team compromised by focusing on tactics normally done in the social sciences, because they were the most familiar to everyone. Another strategy we employed was divvying up tasks based on our fields/skills (so for instance, I focused on the technology/engineering side of our proposal because those fields were the closest to my own), which is the benefit to interdisciplinary research in my eyes.
A Research Madeleine
This experience made me feel like my research is ‘closed off from the world,’ for lack of a better term, though that is not necessarily a bad thing. Interdisciplinary research, as our project was, is aimed to solve real-world problems, whereas my own project is more theoretical and aimed at understanding instead of fixing something. Thus, I do not see either approach or focus to be better or worse, just different. However, in doing this project and hearing others’ ideas, I was able to marvel more at the intricacies of the research they have undertaken and the methods in their fields.
The proposal my team devised was to ameliorate online learning given our current worldly circumstances by implementing programs and systems that will hopefully duplicate their in-person counterparts. The link for the proposal is here (https://youtu.be/rUgUt2bEb5g).