Today a friend forwarded me a webpage A day in the life as the director of IBM research that gave some insight as to how we need to view education in the 21st Century.
Some how over the years, the disciplines have become isolated from each other. Courses have become more standardized and narrow in focus; students don't interact with those from other disciplines.
So, how are we, as college professors, going to send students out into a workforce that requires interdisciplinary research?
One of the most valuable courses I took at Ohio State was a class for science, education, medical, and behavioral science students to discuss current issues in medicine, the science behind them, and the pubic perception. The discussion went long past the end time and sometimes meandered into the local pub.
When I attended the first group of Cold Springs Harbor workshops for the Human Genome project as they were setting up the infrastructure, Watson's greatest move was gathering educators, public relations specialists, behavioral scientists, and scientists together to discuss the social impacts of this. When the project disbursed money, they included all the science and technological fields. This project may not have gone as well had he not done so.
Solving problems is not an assembly line process, it is a group sport. We can't solve problems like we can put together a car on an assembly line.
So, the question is, how can we educate students to be problem solvers and how do we get students from different disciplines together?