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Interdisciplinary Research and Education at USC. Focus: New areas of science and technology that require research teams Ari Requicha requicha@usc.edu http:www-lmr.usc.edu/~requicha. Why Bother?. Real-world problems do not fall neatly within disciplinary boundaries – industry knows this.

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interdisciplinary research and education at usc
Interdisciplinary Research and Education at USC

Focus: New areas of science and technology that require research teams

Ari Requicha

requicha@usc.edu

http:www-lmr.usc.edu/~requicha

why bother
Why Bother?
  • Real-world problems do not fall neatly within disciplinary boundaries – industry knows this.
  • Team work is essential in the real world and discouraged in universities.
  • Exciting areas of big impact, where major advances are taking place – where the action is.
  • Big, visible grants – where the dollars are.
new areas
New Areas
  • Is it for real or a fad?
    • Wait and see (timid administration). Then if OK play catch up.
    • Take an informed risk. Maybe use internal and external advisory groups.
  • Who are the peers?
    • Merit/quality judgements.
    • Tenure decisions.
    • Should junior people be discouraged from doing this work?
new interdisciplinary areas
New Interdisciplinary Areas
  • Grass roots: must be simultaneously recognized as important by several departments (and the administration).
  • Top down: aggressive administration.
  • Hiring: in which department(s)? Administration controls the slots.
depth vs breadth
Depth vs. Breadth
  • Can’t be an expert in everything.
  • Must have depth in something.
  • Goal: Depth in one discipline and knowledge of others to understand problems and to be able to interact with specialists.
  • Who judges depth/quality? Departments.
educational implications
Educational Implications
  • Students should not be “penalized” for choosing interdisciplinary work.
  • Fulfilling requirements in several disciplines is prohibitive.
  • Students do not have the pre-requisites for in-depth courses in other disciplines.
  • Team work is usually discouraged.
  • University has to accept the goal and
    • Teach both depth and breadth courses.
    • To increase breadth need to reduce depth (or increase course length).
university organization
University Organization
  • Areas may come and go; faculty stay.
  • Matrix organization (used by many in industry).
  • Degrees: in departments but mention “programs”.

Departments

“Programs”

centers institutes
Centers/Institutes
  • Outside visibility.
  • Fund raising.
  • Recruiting.
  • Infrastructure support
    • Equipment.
    • Technical and administrative personnel. (Career paths?)
  • Facilitate interaction
    • Seminars and other events.
    • Contiguous space.
    • Powerful teleconferencing (IMSC; Medical School).
usc issues 1
USC Issues (1)
  • Budgeting for proposals – Wide diversity among schools
    • RA tuition.
    • Academic year release.
    • Overhead rates.
    • Need for multiple approvals.
    • Lengthy cost share discussions.
    • Authority over accounts – split vs. undivided accounts.
  • Teaching
    • New courses across departments.
    • “Breadth” courses are service courses.
    • Teaching credit.
    • Tuition credit.
usc issues 2
USC Issues (2)
  • Lack of space
    • Labs.
    • “Mingling” areas.
    • Seminar rooms.
    • Contiguous space for “program” faculty and students.
    • Quality of space, e.g. CS building.
  • Living in the past
    • Some faculty continue to work on areas that no longer have impact.
    • Departments tend to keep building up in existing areas.
    • Reward flexibility.
  • Who’s addressing all these issues?
    • The senate is a poor representative of the faculty involved in interdiscipinary activities in science and technology.
    • Strategic planning ignores science and technology trends.