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The Importance of Bridges:

Creating Interdisciplinary Pathways in Teaching and Research

The Importance of Bridges:

Lisa Dupree McNair

Dept. of Engineering, Virginia Tech

Date: February 14, 2013


It is well established that 21st century problems are complex problems that inherently cross disciplinary boundaries, and in response universities are now beginning to support interdisciplinary initiatives. But how are faculty expanding their research and teaching practices across disciplines? Indeed, large-scale issues of the 21st century—whether it is globalization, overpopulation, water shortages, climate change, poverty, or terrorism, etc.—require abilities to integrate perspectives and ways of thinking. Through an overview of current literature and examples of interdisciplinary collaborations, this presentation presents strategies for bridging disciplines in both research and teaching.

Dr. McNair's talk is co-sponsored by the College of Engineering and the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts.

About the Speaker

Lisa DuPree McNair is an Associate Professor of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, where she also serves as Assistant Department Head of Graduate Education and co-Director of the VT Engineering Communication Center (VTECC). She received her PhD in Linguistics from the University of Chicago and an M.A. and B.A. in English from the University of Georgia. Her research interests include interdisciplinary collaboration, design education, communication studies, identity theory and reflective practice. Projects supported by the National Science Foundation include interdisciplinary pedagogy for pervasive computing design; writing across the curriculum in Statics courses; as well as a National Science Foundation CAREER award to explore the use of e-portfolios for graduate students to promote professional identity and reflective practice. Her teaching emphasizes the roles of engineers as communicators and educators, the foundations and evolution of the engineering education discipline, assessment methods, and evaluating communication in engineering.