Reconstructing the Paradigm : Teaching Across the Disciplines

Caroline Brown, Alexia Pollack

Abstract


In this article, Caroline Brown, a literature professor who focuses on American and African Diasporic writing, and Alexia Pollack, a biology professor with expertise in neuropharmacology, recount their experiences teaching across the disciplines in one anothers respective classrooms, finding points of intersection and divergence, and creating classroom dialogues from the resultant encounters. Central to this process is permitting students to enter discipline-specific discourses from other disciplinary perspectives. In Caroline Browns first year general education seminar, Examining Consciousness, a course constructed around the study of the representation of the brain through the reading of scientific writings, popular essays, personal narratives, fiction, and poetry, Alexia Pollack presented scientific lectures on neurotransmission, brain organization and structure, with an emphasis on how the brain is affected by drug addiction and organic disease. In Alexia Pollacks undergraduate and graduate courses, Neurobiology and Biology of Learning and Memory, Caroline Brown lectured on the intersection of artistry and science in American literature, tracing the depiction of learning and memory in Realistic, Modern, and Post-Modern novels, and how scientific developments influenced their representation. During these encounters the students were introduced to discipline-specific approaches, which were distinct from the perspectives of their respective classrooms. As a result, larger classroom discussions were created, allowing students to perceive intersecting dimensions of very different disciplines. This conceptual flexibility permitted students to think outside the box in order to develop a more complete appreciation of their particular discipline and to recognize its place in the world at large.

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