Disciplines and Interdisciplinarity
The priority that the Human Sciences Program gives to three key areas mark it as a distinct contribution to interdisciplinary education in the United States: disciplinary grounding, cross-cultural inquiry, and historical depth. The Human Sciences Program at GW places disciplinary inquiry at the center of its enterprise. It consistently stresses cross-cultural inquiry, including disciplined inquiry into non-Anglophone and non-Western societies. And it grounds its work historically. The Program focuses not only on the history and historicity of cultures and societies, but also individual disciplines and of criticism and theory, leading to such questions as: What counts as history? How do issues of language and/or power shape or complicate our understanding of history?
Disciplines by their own nature contour limits to their inquiry. The
advantage of interdisciplinary work is that it first recognizes the
value of disciplinary inquiry, but also attends to its inevitable constraints.
The Human Sciences Program does not place its primary emphasis on how
work in a given discipline may be enhanced by interdisciplinary work
in general, but rather on how a Human Sciences students project
requires work that should be grounded in one discipline and cut across
several others. For each of the disciplines currently contributing faculty
to the teaching of core courses in the Human Sciences, there are thus
different advantages to interdisciplinary work, and these advantages
depend on the different disciplines being interrelated. Thus for a given
discipline, such as Womens Studies, the advantages would differ
were the student also interested in Religion and Philosophy, or in Literature