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Computational and Multidisciplinary Curriculum and Research Initiative

  • Supported by the W. M. Keck Foundation
  • Mike Deibel and Charlie Peck (deibemi at, charliep at
  • Earlham College, Richmond Indiana
  • Summer research projects and course modules with computational aspects across a wide variety of science disciplines

A. Our work was facilitated by

  1. Regular and established multidisciplinary meetings/communication (SciFri, SciDiv)
  2. Project of interest to the campus and off-campus communities and interest to students
  3. Project intentionally chosen to be as multidisciplinary as possible (approach and process)

B. Barriers which we experienced

  1. Lack of time in faculty and student schedules for new initiatives
  2. Staffing limitations at small schools, small departments have less inherit flexibility.
  3. Disciplines sometimes speak different "languages"
  4. Students often like to compartmentalize their education

C. Strategies and tactics for overcoming the barriers

  1. Regular face-to-face meetings and lots of electronic communication
  2. Creativity and adaptability of faculty
  3. Common presentation material or guest presentations of material for courses and research
  4. Shared field work, shared meals

D. Assessment

  1. External evaluation, on-site visits
  2. Internal surveys
  3. Personal analysis and reflections by faculty each year
  4. Exam questions (criterion referenced assessment)

E. Sustainability of multidisciplinary work

  1. Course module vs. separate course
  2. Service learning - outside of a course or built into course
  3. Involving pre-tenure faculty