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.
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