Monday, September 24, 2012

When did 'interdisciplinary' become the adjective we can't live without?

By Anatoly Liberman

Anatoly Liberman is a professor at he University of Minnesota, where he has taught medieval culture, German and other languages since 1975.

Everything should be interdisciplinary, right? Read the ads for the few openings in the humanities, and you will see that colleges will hire only specialists with an interdisciplinary focus and the propensity for critical thinking. Now, thinking is of course always critical; otherwise, it is not thinking, so let us forget about this part of advertising. But how many irons should one have in the fire?

For starters, allow me to tell an anecdote. I once had a problem in my right eye, and the excellent ophthalmologist who had observed me for years said that he wanted to ask the opinion of a doctor specializing in the diseases of the lid. "The lower lid?" — I asked darkly, because I happened to be worried about that part of my anatomy. "Yes," he snapped back, "the lower lid of the right eye."

His answer restored my confidence in the medical profession. I had known that there were experts in the diseases of the retina and suspected that the same might be true about the cornea, but the lid too!

Click here to read this article from Minnesota Public Radio