Creating Interdisciplinary Possibilities

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Panelist’s Presentations

CJ Yeh’s presentation (click on link):

 [More material from Panelists to go here.] 


Workshop Leaders’ Summary

Wrap-up notes from Saturday (Karen Pearson, October 30, 2007):

  1. Interdisciplinary
  • Consider shift from 2-2 to a 1-3 model of study (All Groups)
  • First Yr. Seminar program
  • Freshman seminar – student choice of concentration/topic
  • Tangible application driven seminar (prelude to major study)
  • All results presented in exhibit or style shop
  1. Team Taught Courses
    • Change from grass-roots to formal structure: How?
    • F2F shared responsibilities
    • Trade partners
    • Dedicated time/platform for evolution, i.e. retreat
    • Realistic support structure i.e. funding
  2. Concentration – “minor”
  • ex: Asia concentration
  1. Capstone
  • At BA or BFA level to be presented college-wide, with industry support
  • Expansion of Pres. Scholars model
  • Open lab opportunities expanded, generate gross-discipline discussions
  • Execute more I.D. courses with solid support > union, admin. i.e.




Raw Notes (from easles, etc.)

[This material has not been extensively edited and may best be used to stimulate memory or ideas for further discussion.] 

Notes from individual workshops:

Mark Higdon’s group — final proposal submission ideas

Action Plan for implementation:

  1. Dept. identify classes:
  2. – exchange/shared lectures from industry and/or faculty, plus other department (outcome) other viewpoints
    • exchange critiques
    • final project critiques panel of visiting artist, consist of all disciplines Culminates into semester works

Department rep from each department needs to review course list and syllabus to determine where overlaps exist to other department courses/disciplines.

Establish list of course instructors in identified courses

Establish methods for communication amongst faculty

i.e., in-person, portal group, blogs, journal and list serves.

Faculty proposes possibilities for shared experiences in lecture, critiques on how they would like to implement into course structures.

Administration submission: if applicable



VP and President (if needed)

Vincent DiFate’s group — Workshop Recommendations:

1) Create a panel of union and administrative individuals to deal pragmatically with the establishment of fair compensation to promote the possibilities of team-teaching –establishment of working models for interdisciplinary configurations. Plan to deal realistically with the costs of implementing the concept of interdisciplinary.

2) Create welcoming environments for faculty to meet and entertaining and informative programming to draw the in.

3) Bring together faculty from diverse areas to explore commonalities and break down territoriality.

4) Create and require the taking of courses that promote the mixing of the student population.

5) Any plan for a common first year, through conducive to an interdisciplinary environment, would necessitate a 4 year program. Explore configurations beyond 2 + 2.

6) Create CET and teaching awards specifically for achievement in interdisciplinary – also develop additional scholarship sources for students to the end

7) Abolish the block system which is restrictive of interdisciplinary education.

8) Better utilize the library as a nexus

9) Use creative arts lab as a focus for initiating project-based student collaborations and integrated study – also promote faculty/student research across disciplines.

10) Establish policy relevant to intellectual property rights.

Notes from discussion:

1. Creative Arts Lab

Bring students together in courses from different departments, esp. courses with high-tech components.

Project-based — Like old

“Integrated Studies= I.S. courses



  1. CET – Seed money for interdisciplinary work
  2. Combine sections) Other models
    • AOP/Compensation
    • Joint – committee re: union – negotiations
  3. CET/ Library/work + collaborate
    • Faculty Meeting Place
    • Coffee
  4. Creative Arts Lab – student collaboration
  5. Mixing Students from different majors > BLOCS
  6. Teach L.A. through their passions
  7. Common 1st year
  8. Intellectual Property
  9. Naturally Allied Departments work together

2. Purse Style – Shop

Move Location

Integrate with A course

Interactive Projects

Establish a Model (seed grant $ – Teaching Institute)

  1. Unions RH > Form + Charge for Joint Committee to make recommendations to union + admin. For collective bargaining – what are criteria hours per instructors, etc.

(Vincent DiFate minutes)

10/19/07 Notes from Interdisciplinary Workshop

Notes on Initial Presentation:

FIT student profile has changed radically since the college was started. Fit students are now more likely to be middle class, less likely to come from New York City. The institution must balance its desire to train students for the workplace with the need to prepare them for life in a global environment.

To this end we must:

– Research technologies that do not currently exist.

– Strive for global awareness

– Utilize the language and essential ideals of education to define our objective

– Become more tolerant of our differences and see them as strengths

What the panel recommended can be done:

Donna David:

– create interdisciplinary possibilities through the integration of knowledge.

– Seek different expertise that better mirrors the diversity of real-life experiences

– make a change in perception between our public and private selves.

– Become more technologically savvy


1) Change configurations of classrooms

2) Bring in guest lecturers from outside your field

3) Shake students up by challenging them and raising performance expectations.

(Marianne Klimchuk)

– Create cross-functional partnerships for optimal educational platform

– Business majors need to understand art  art majors need to understand business.

– Move toward a sharing of educational objectives through problem solving/trust building

– Eliminate duplication

– Promote continuous communication between faculty and between departments.

C.J. Yeh’s group:

– Promote team-teaching (co-teaching)

– “Hyper-disciplinary” activity

– Shift emphasis to the students to make learning happen

– Create personalized study plans

More notes from ?

1. Interdepartmental Concentrations

A&D for B&T

B&T for A&D

2. Co-teaching – flexible curriculum

ESL and major study (1 yr program)

Special project or future curriculum courses (globalization)

3. Partner trade lecturers with other departments

List of willing “guests”

Critiques with other professors

Critique panel of interdisciplinary review of work.

Action Plan:

1. Create taskforce between two schools and brainstorm.

2. Recognition

3. Identify courses that would benefit from the “cross teaching”

4. What is best marrying of professors teaching.

5. Conduct industry survey as to how much multitasking are students able to do in a job.

More notes from?

1. Flexible curriculum

Create learning goals and skill sets that are < skill specific and more conceptual.

2. Rotating choice of professor who will use 3 credits to be an infuser into other classes.

3. ESL service attached to a course in the one-year majors where students pay service fee and ESL instructor who is in the classroom with course teacher.

Workshop 2

1. Concentrations

    • A&D for B&T
    • B&T for A&D (not a “minor”)

2. Co-teaching

3. ESL & major study (one-year program)

4. Special project or “flexible curriculum” courses (globalization)

5. Parallel – trade lectures

6. List of willing “guests”

7. Or critiques. Critique Panel of interdisciplinary review of work.

Karen Pearson’s group — Interdisciplinary Possibilities:

  • Draw up a plan to implement interdisciplinary concepts
  • Transforming Academic structure
  • Honors design class; many students – different department work together to actualize projects; capstone design project – (Group)
  • Working in groups of 5 or 6
  • How does a block system allow this to happen?
  • Presidential scholars program could be a place to begin.
  • Students can be split with teams to begin; project would come out of a class or a discipline; Faculty would assemble students into groups each would compliment the effort.
  • Work as a “POD” concept.
  • Can be approached as an informal trail or as curriculum change.
  • Graduate studies feel that an “organic” growth is happening; informal pulling in of faculty/students from Grad illustration and Graduate Exhibition Design, Informative is offered to assist in the creative of an exhibition for a specific grad course – (D. Montegut).
  • CET; send grant for development of outcomes of student learning to be used for pilot purposes
  • Fashion Design Department, partner with someone in opposite department to offer complimentary experiences to students (partnering business concepts to Art students).
  • One or two semester course taught as a Team.
  • An Interdisciplinary Dept? Or write/co-develop a course that can be put through the curriculum process. How does this concept impact time allotment for courses in terms of scheduling?
  • Time consuming….one course, taught in 2 different departments. Home Products/Packaging Design already does this; a Sponsor industry- perhaps Advisory Board member, critiques the final project outcomes.
  • Prior trade school mentality remains in the culture of FIT are we ready to make the leap from trade school to University. Must commit ourselves to a fundamental mind shift – perhaps a common first year (foundation) + administration must support the effort – as a Radical Shift.
  • Should we be forced into Research? In the real world must work together with everyone. Have to pilot a way to do this while we move forward revising curriculum.
  • Perhaps assembling teams by “the way they learn”; each member learns.

How do we manipulate the system?

Many integrated interdisciplinary projects work successfully in the Junior Year.

On the structural side, lots must happen to make this move forward – right now this is a grass roots movement – what happens of this is not institutionalized?

Everyone in the room spoke about poor student research skills across the college -especially at the BFA level.

What are the institutional road blocks? A complex monster can be created.

A common 1st semester – if not a full year is recommended. Students to enjoy meeting and working with each other, a cross discipline.

An optional path—

Radical thinking – will an AAS program really exist in 2020?

On a practical level: remove the block registration system and create a more fluid curriculum that allows students to create programming/curriculum options within the SUNY degree system.

Do we need to have majors? Can the first foundation year be one in which a student does not have a declared major, and then perhaps declare a major for 3 years?

The foundation year should be skill based – learn how to write, calculate and express themselves (critical thinking) up to an established level – then apply to the major.

Portfolio interviews and evaluations would happen in the 2nd year. Why come to FIT if one does not declare a major?

Minors – very interesting concept – why concentration and not a minor? Practical…. Schedules are so tight that only concentration can be worked out.

Common year – how do we see it? Combination of many courses from all schools not just Liberal Arts.

Foundation year is not just comprised of Liberal Arts. Foundation year should be designed in Liberal Arts and Liberal Arts in Design.

Freshman Seminar Choice; becomes general advisory group that assists the students in exploring …..lots of openness.

Create an interdisciplinary 1st year – which demonstrates the creative and intellectual dept of FIT.

Suggestion – a second portfolio review of the completion of the first year in the major. Suggestions are given of students should continue studying in the major or move to another major?

Another suggestion would be (italics added by typist) building an on-line portfolio that continues to grow from semester to semester.


  1. Foundation/interdisciplinary/Seminar/Survey type. Address 3 projects from 3 distinct areas or make this concept oriented.
  • CET – have faculty curriculum development of this nature paid for.
  • 1st to have faculty oriented to the seminar concept prior to curriculum development to work out faculty opposition.
  • Perhaps this should be developed as a 1/3 model…instead of a 2+2 model.
  1. Capstone interdisciplinary project/course for either AAS or BFA degree. This would be a year long project. Will companion creative hub area of strategic plan; could also feed into Research portion of strategic plan.
  1. Minors/Concentrations: Remove Blocks

Flexible degree programs

Create a series of curricular options


Extended CET options that can used to assist faculty to a greater extent – student willing to learn; faculty not willing to change. Faculty development perhaps more of a challenge – students are more eager.

Workshop 1 (Praveen Chaudry’s group)

1. Opportunities:

  1. How to Change from typical lab environment?
  2. Present two sides to one product
  3. Insert interdisciplinary projects into curriculum
  4. Cross-listing:
  5. Consider various learning outcomes
  6. How do address these concerns within our structure – can it be done?
  7. Should we (or not) separate students discipline to discipline?
  8. Students across schools need more functionality/interaction
  9. Reassess set-ups that do not encourage interdisciplinary discussion
  10. How to deal with ownership and to break down these boundaries?
  11. Visits from industry pros/critics.
  12. Industry team teaching
  13. Broaden the initial mindset to embrace team teaching
  14. Collaborative research
  15. Marketing those courses that are available to student population
  16. What is the difference between the existing related area course and where it should be generated from?

2. What works now?

  1. Two majors work together (faculty collaboration.) in course structure
  2. Create majors from 2 different schools on a collaborative program
  3. Continuing education for collaboration
  4. Bring together graduate/undergraduate students
  5. News to faculty about collaborative efforts: web page
  6. Is team teaching/hybrid courses a consistent concept that is viable:

3. Considerations:

  1. schedule
  2. equal parts of contribution
  3. team building
  4. moderate moderations

4. Suggestions:

a) Dedicated lab (software) common lab

  1. Each department becomes self-based, releasing “ownership” issues.
  2. Shared technology

5. Team teaching?

a) So far, not very many positive experiences. (logistics)

  1. Are there existing courses that can be adapted or do we need new curriculum?
  2. Change the nature of labs – wireless laptops
  3. Identify those experts across campus that could provide the “Blast” of needed info: – (A “Face-Book” Craigs’ list)
  4. Tap into unknown aspects of personnel resources on campus, as well as alumni.
  5. Technology lab
  6. Knowledge lab
  7. Clearing house/share point, linked – in, Face Book
  8. Web site enhancement to include faculty profiles
  9. Develop more “in-faculty friendships”

6. How? Places to meet

a) How to build better attendance for F2F

b) Expand space opportunities

  1. CET “expansion” opportunities
  2. Incentives





  1. Concrete Examples:

a) Department to Department collaboration

b) Open computer labs, software specific, self-paced (also for language)

c) Common first year for Art and Design, not necessarily for Business and Technology

d) Institute a yearly retreat to be able to reach and to introduce more faculty.

e) Develop a new “customer” profile through “recruitment” courses, multi-faculty driven

f) Re-configure and/or expand “style shop”


One thought on “Creating Interdisciplinary Possibilities

  1. The Packaging Design Department would like to collaborate on interdisciplinary projects around the school. For example, we could work with the Foreign Language Dept. on packaging designs that incorporate Spanish, we could work with Textiles and utilize their work on packaging designs, we could work with Illustration, Photography, Jewelry Design etc… Sustainablility is one are we would definitely like to explore with other departments.
    We welcome the opportunities.

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