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In Defense of DisciplinesInterdisciplinarity and Specialization in the Research University$
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Jerry A. Jacobs

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226069296

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226069463.001.0001

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Dynamic Disciplines

Dynamic Disciplines

Chapter:
(p.27) 3 Dynamic Disciplines
Source:
In Defense of Disciplines
Author(s):

Jerry A. Jacobs

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226069463.003.0003

Chapter 3 presents an institutional theory of academic disciplines that emphasizes the vibrant forces for innovation at work within disciplinary contexts. Discussions of interdisciplinarity generally ignore or downplay competition over status and resources among rival scholars, competition among neighboring specialties as well as competition among disciplines. Disciplines are broad, porous and dynamic, with both internal and external forces propelling scholarship forward. Disciplines thrive because they create effective research communities. A review of the number of degree granting disciplines and departments suggests that the number of liberal arts disciplines is quite small. Evidence on the rise of academic specialization shows that the modern academic department was common during the 1930s but generally had very few faculty members. The expansion of the liberal arts disciplines into intellectually vital units is only two-thirds of a century old.

Keywords:   disciplines, liberal arts, liberal arts disciplines, academic department, growth of knowledge, creativity

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