What is "interdisciplinary" research and why does it matter? How should "innovation" in the modern research university be defined? How do interdisciplinary and innovative practices compare across different modes of research, from the natural, physical, and social sciences to the arts and humanities? And how do institutional norms, physical spaces, and political-economic structures of power and opportunity affect both interdisciplinary and innovative research?

This graduate seminar, team-taught by three faculty affiliates of the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies, explores the diverse meanings and practices of both "interdisciplinary" and "innovation" in the modern research university. Drawing on scholarship from history, sociology, public policy, anthropology, education, science studies and communication studies, this seminar itself will serve as an example of an innovative and interdisciplinary practice.

Besides engaging in weekly discussions and written analyses of course readings, students will each produce a final review, policy, or research paper in a way that is appropriate and useful to their own graduate research program. And students will have the opportunity to present their work at an upcoming NSF-funded UW-Madison workshop on the innovative and interdisciplinary issues surrounding the establishment of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.


  • Greg Downey (Journalism & Mass Communication, Library & Information Studies)
  • Noah Feinstein (Curriculum and Instruction)
  • Daniel L. Kleinman (Community and Environmental Sociology)