Taking an Interdisciplinary Approach

As a student with a background in psychology and philosophy, I believe that a person’s field of interest is often revealed through their approach to problem solving and exploration. We see it in the quantitative approach of a future engineer, the precise writing of an English major, or the global perspective of a public health student. The Brackenridge Fellowship blurs the lines of these fields, however. Students pursue projects in areas of study that do not typically interact and lend their incredible knowledge of vastly different fields.

Engaging with expertise outside of a personal field may feel counterintuitive as research projects often pursue subject-specific knowledge, but it is the best manifestation of research as a collaborative process. In seeking generalizability of research, it is important to consider not only one’s own field but also other fields that may intersect with or benefit from the results of valuable study. My project aims to be a positive embodiment of the intersection of medicine and the humanities, and a similar goal is reflected in many of my peers’ projects. Madhura Leninkannan’s project examines mental health literacy in Latinx parents and the associated mental health outcomes of their children. This project is a reflection of how various knowledge bases can be leveraged to understand all factors involved in creating and perpetuating health disparity.

Yamini Yepuri’s project is an incredible example of the intersection between fields. Her first post – entitled When Empathy Meets Politics – illustrates this range of subjects beautifully. She studies the impact of empathy in political decision making and, interestingly, how this can be understood or exemplified through the Dick Thornburgh Papers. This project is a great example of how to approach issues with an interdisciplinary and intersectional mindset.

When speaking with other Brackenridge Fellows about their unique areas of research, their excitement is contagious. There is an inherent motivation in being surrounded by projects with both breadth and depth in their conceptualization of field-specific and world issues. Although we will all experience initial challenges in communicating about field-specific ideas, that is a part of the charm of learning to work as an interdisciplinary team. Learning from my peers and their perspectives will broaden my academic and personal experiences, and I hope through my work I can do the same. I am excited to represent my own disciplines while gaining the nuanced perspectives of my peers across all fields.

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