Throughout the first few weeks of the Brackenridge fellowship, I have been thoroughly impressed with my fellow undergraduate’s motivation and excitement for research. I have especially enjoyed learning about why these projects and personally interesting and important for the other members of my cohort. Hearing others speak so passionately about their research is inspiring, and has been driving me forward as I work on my own project. I am excited to continue to learn about what research looks like outside of my field and how these projects contribute to a better understanding of the world around us.
One of the similarities that I have observed between my project and many others in my cohort is the emphasis on modernity. That is, many of us are concerned with the answers to new and modern problems or bringing to light gaps in research that have been left untouched in our respective fields of study. Frances’ project is an excellent example of this. Her project aims to address ancient philosophical questions asked by Plato with modern perspectives. The idea to connect the new with the old also speaks to the collaborative nature of the Brackenridge fellowship.
I believe that working with researchers from different disciplines is extremely valuable. Cross-disciplinary collaboration allows for a well-rounded and comprehensive view of a research project or question. Similarly, interdisciplinary research invites input from various different perspectives that can fully evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a project from all angles. An interdisciplinary environment can also foster individual and group growth by encouraging out-of-the-box thinking and offering new insights into a problem. However, there are some inherent challenges that come with working across disciplines. For example, all aspects of the research logic and procedures need to be explained clearly, without jargon, while still being accurate and detailed so that researchers who are unfamiliar with the work will understand. Without a basic and mutual understanding of a project, effective interdisciplinary collaboration cannot occur.
Although research is often very discipline-specific, it is important for to recognize the value that accompanies perspectives from those outside of our fields. It is easy to get stuck in a “research bubble”, in which the only feedback and input you receive are from those who are closely connected with your project. It is our responsibility as researchers to connect with others outside of this bubble, consider alternative viewpoints, and in turn provide more comprehensive, accessible research.