How Interdisciplinarians Work


  • Sharon Woodill University of Central Florida
  • Richard Plate University of Central Florida
  • Nathan Jagoda University of Central Florida



interdisciplinary studies, interdisciplinary methodology, complexity


Interdisciplinary research requires an approach different from research performed within a specific disciplinary framework. This paper reports on a study that was motivated by a perceived difference between how interdisciplinary research is done by scholars and how it is taught to students. A total of 21 semi-structured interviews were conducted with professional scholars who had presented at one of the Association for Interdisciplinary Studies recent annual conferences with the objective of exploring how professional scholars approach and perform interdisciplinary research. Three themes that arose from these interviews—1) the importance of an exploratory disposition, 2) a lack of concern for interdisciplinary boundaries, and 3) the importance of mentorship and community—have relevance in terms of how we design curriculum and educational experiences to prepare students to research complex, real-world problems that require an interdisciplinary approach.


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Author Biographies

Sharon Woodill, University of Central Florida

Sharon Woodill, PhD, is a Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Central Florida, USA. Her research interests include Interdisciplinary Methodologies, Secular Studies, Science, Religion and Sexualities, and Feminist Science Studies. Email:

Richard Plate, University of Central Florida

Richard Plate, PhD, is a Lecturer in Environmental Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Central Florida, USA. His research focuses on how people learn and make decisions about complex social-ecological systems. Email:

Nathan Jagoda, University of Central Florida

Nathan Jagoda, MA, is a research assistant in Sociology and Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Central Florida, USA. Email:


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How to Cite

Woodill, S., Plate, R. ., & Jagoda, N. . (2019). How Interdisciplinarians Work. Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Education, 8(2), 112–129.