Merrimack College in North Andover, MA hosted the 37th annual Association for Interdisciplinary Studies (AIS) conference October 22-25, 2015. AIS attracts scholars and administrators from across the country and from around the world with a keen interest in developing and promoting research, pedagogy, and programs in integrative and interdisciplinary studies. The conference theme was “Impact for the Common Good” and included many presentations from Eberly College’s Program for Multi and Interdisciplinary Studies.
Program Director, Evan Widders, presented multiple times at the conference, including “A Long Six Years: Lessons Learned Bringing an Interdisciplinary Studies Program to Life,” and “Improving Interdisciplinary Advising: How Assessment and Student Engagement Can Enhance Students’ Academic Success,” as well as a panel discussion “Measuring Impact of Interdisciplinary Learning” with Benjamin Brooks of New York University. Widders has been active in AIS for many years.
Two faculty members in the program presented as well. Clarissa Estep, associate professor, presented “An International Observer’s Observations: An Interdisciplinary Explanation of Tunisia’s Democratization Process” based on her experiences in Tunisia, certifying elections as part of a group from The Carter Center.
Renée Nicholson, MFA, assistant professor, read from her hybrid creative research, “Writing with Old People: Narrative Medicine’s Role in Eldercare.” Nicholson, a past recipient of a WVU ADVANCE grant for her work in Narrative Medicine, had presented at a previous conference on her ongoing initiatives in integrating creative writing into health care settings.
Two graduate assistants from the program were also involved with the conference. Dominique Bruno, a PhD candidate in English served as the advising GA for the program and presented “The Role of Advising and Private Conferences in Student Retention as Part of a Multidisciplinary Studies Program,” pulling from her year and half of experience working withMDS undergraduates to ensure quality advising. Eric Myers, a PhD student in Political Science, works with MDS 489 instructors and the Center for Service and Learning to ensure quality learning outcomes for students, and shared his insights into the process by “Evaluating and Reinventing and Interdisciplinary Paradigm for Service Learning Models.”
“The MDS faculty shares a strong commitment to interdisciplinary studies and scholarship,” says Widders. “Both the quality and variety of presentations made at AIS this year speaks to those commitments.”