New lecture series launches at USAO Sept. 15

Dr. James Welch IV (pictured) is the keynote speaker for the inaugural Mary Jo Ragan Lecture of Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. Welch is scheduled to speak on the topic of “What is Interdisciplinlarity?” beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Sept. 15 in the Ballroom.

New lecture series launches at USAO Sept. 15


A respected national authority on trends in blending areas of study will deliver a presentation for a new lecture series.

Dr. James Welch IV is scheduled to deliver the inaugural lecture in the Mary Jo Ragan Lecture on Interdisciplinary Studies beginning at 7 p.m. on Sept. 15 in the Ballroom.

The event is free and open to the public. Attending the lecture will provide professional development hours for public school teachers.

Welch, an assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies at the University of Texas at Arlington, will be presenting research on the question, “What is Interdisciplinarity?”

Welch said that while the term, “interdisciplinarity” may intimidate some, its meaning is simple.

“Interdisciplinarity is just an approach to knowledge that involves the integration of multiple perspectives in order to help understand and/or solve complex problems,” Welch said.

Welch said that more educators must embrace the interdisciplinary approach due to the complexity of the problems that humanity is dealing with today.

“One of the things that is starting to characterize the state of knowledge is an information explosion with an accompanying clash between differing points of view,” Welch said.

“Our students are dealing with clashes of information, viewpoints and worldviews and have no guidelines on how to sort through that information and apply it to solving problems and making decisions.”

“Interdisciplinary teaching gives students a tool box for dealing with the information overload. We have to instill upon our students not simply the virtue of the openmindedness but how to deal with the consequences of openmindedness.”

Welch has been at the forefront of the development of interdisciplinary theory and teaching interdisciplinary studies for over a decade.

In 2005, Welch made contributions to the first edition of In Interdisciplinary Practice: A Student Guide to Research and Practice, which was authored by the former director of the interdisciplinary studies program at UT Arlington.

His research has also been published extensively in the journal Issues in Interdisciplinary Studies.

Welch is the vice-president in the Association for Interdisciplinary Studies, of which USAO is an institutional member. He serves as the editor of Integrative Pathways, the organization’s newsletter.

Dr. Stephen Weber, professor of music and chairman for the arts and humanities division for the university, said that USAO is the natural home for a lecture series on interdisciplinary studies.

“USAO has a fifty-year pedigree of interdisciplinary learning at the core of our curriculum,” Weber said. “We are encouraged to see other institutions beginning to embrace it as a model because we have experienced first-hand the profound effect that it has on our graduates.”

Weber is coordinating the lecture as part of his role as the university’s Ragan Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, a position he has held since the fall of 2013.

More information about the lecture can be obtained by calling 574-1295.

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