Role-playing in the Interdisciplinary Classroom
With an eye toward the sharing of knowledge from various disciplines, and in the belief that knowledge is best produced through exposure to diverse sources and mind-sets, the College of Mount Saint Vincent's core requirement includes an integrated course in the junior and senior years. The course is team-taught by two, three, or four instructors, each bringing an approach from his or her discipline to bear on the topic of the course. Some course titles are A Nation of Immigrants (history/sociol-ogy), Ethics and Health Care (philosophy/psychology), Science and Religion (chemistry/religious studies), and the one I teach along with a psychology and health education professor, Women's Lives, Women's Voices. We each use our own texts which we select after several meetings during which we choose the topics to be covered. As the director of the writing program and a teacher of writing, it is my challenge to encourage students both to analyze the work of the writers on the syllabus and to use writing to understand the concepts of the course and their connection to the students' lives. Additionally, students must learn to envision this gender-studies-based course as interdisciplinary. The course usually has upwards of forty-five students in it, so teaching strategies involving writing necessarily differ from those used in writing classes in which the “cap” is twelve for developmental courses and fifteen for freshman composition and creative writing courses. Interdisciplinary courses are scheduled as weekly three-hour sessions. Sometimes each instructor teaches for one hour, and sometimes, depending on the nature of the lesson, one instructor may use two or all three hours of the session.