chapter  4
8 Pages

(reactive) Academic Disciplines: Homes or Barricades?

WithGARY POOLE

In the previous chapter, “The Commons: Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Encounters,” Janet Donald suggests that, to use disciplinarity in a constructive way, we should see disciplines as “homes within the larger learning community” (p. 48, this volume). The compelling aspect of this metaphor is that it invites us to leave our homes to join others in the broader community, thus enjoying the benefits of our discipline without being locked up in it. At the same time, it is this very notion of “home” that makes disciplines, and the academic departments they spawn, problematic places, restricting our “world views,” to use Donald’s language, creating we/they mentalities within university structures, and making it more difficult for us to solve problems or engage in discourse that would benefit from multi-disciplinary perspectives. Thus, the notion of “home,” a term often invoked in the contexts of disciplines and departments, has its pros and cons.