Interdisciplinary education

Utrecht University aims to educate its students to become critical global citizens with an eye for an open society. Interdisciplinary education plays an important role in this. UU strives for an educational culture in which good interdisciplinary education is self-evident, teachers are encouraged and supported to innovate their teaching and educational interventions are scientifically researched.

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If you are an employee or teacher at Utrecht University, check out the intranet for more information and tools for your interdisciplinary teaching.

Interdisciplinary education on intranet

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Interdisciplinary education at UU

In Utrecht, we work with a definition of interdisciplinarity that could be called disciplined interdisciplinarity. We opt for a model in which the disciplines have a central place in interdisciplinary education, be it a course, minor or degree programme. The disciplines and interdisciplinarity support each other, with interdisciplinarity constantly questioning the disciplines' tendency to specialise, while the disciplines ensure that interdisciplinary responses are not only more comprehensive but also based on careful research.

Interdisciplinarity is thus "disciplined" in three ways

  • Firstly, in interdisciplinary educational contexts, disciplinary knowledge and insights are integrated into a more comprehensive answer to a research question and thus existing knowledge and insights are also evaluated.
  • Secondly, a disciplinary evaluation of the interdisciplinary end result takes place afterwards: are insights or even disciplines missing, has the common-ground concept already been researched?
  • Finally, it reflects on the interdisciplinary process itself.

There is no single way to design an interdisciplinary curriculum, course or working format. The trick is to make well-thought-out choices, preferably research-informed.

Prof. dr. Iris van der Tuin

Research-informed to work

UU aims to take a research-informed approach to developing interdisciplinary education. We use research results from educational research to develop a nuanced perspective on issues surrounding the governance and organisation of interdisciplinary education, but also when it comes to developing materials to support teaching teams. The Interdisciplinary Education programme aims to stimulate research on interdisciplinary education, share results and use them. Three postdocs have been appointed to research these issues.  

Research-informed education and practice-informed education research

Just as education is strengthened when it is research-informed, we strengthen educational research when it is practice-informed. It is not desirable to limit the lively process of interdisciplinary educational development to a fixed research roadmap or rigid teaching rules. Instead, it is important to support the reflective and creative dynamics that arise when teachers from different disciplines inspire each other for interdisciplinary teaching.

Teacher support

We support teachers developing interdisciplinary teaching in various ways:

  • Develop and provide tools, roadmaps and learning materials. These will be made freely available as much as possible. Some are already available through the Teaching and Learning Collection. We are also setting up an open environment with research-informed materials within EduSources.
  • Annual course on Interdisciplinary Education for teachers at Utrecht University. This course is developed by the experts at Education Advice & Training.
  • Grants for (continued) development of interdisciplinary education.