Manifesto of an interdisciplinary scholar

Da Vinci, representative of all things interdisciplinary

I am an interdisciplinary scholar. I am a minority.  My cup is neither half full, nor half empty. I have multiple cups, they are all full to a certain degree, but never 100%. I don’t fit in, and always fit in. As a “broker” of social networks, I am a valuable asset to the society. I fill in structural holes. I am a renaissance person. I know about everything and nothing.

I see patterns in the universe. I wish I knew how to explain that to the stars. I don’t know why they are threatened by me. They think they are individual bodies, but they are in constellations. Is it ignorance or arrogance?

You may say I am fickle. I will say that I am precocious. I am fueled by curiosity. I am more challenged to synthesize and connect than look for evidence that supports my beliefs. If I have a question, I try to answer it with whatever resources and methods I have. I answer to science. Science is complex, humans try to simplify things for their understanding, but that is not how things are.

I go against basic assumptions of human nature. Human beings have an innate need to be part of a group  or categorize themselves to assimilate with their in-group and distinguish themselves from out-groups. Yet I straddle groups. Everyone praises me for it, but no one will invite me home to dinner.

I can make pasta with soy sauce. I have no intention of desecrating pasta or soy sauce. Rather, I think it brings out the best in both. Why should they not go together? Is not the world better for it? Serendipity is my friend. Serendipity is not entirely chance- it takes the inquisitive mind to link accident to discovery.

There are more people like me out there. We are commended, we are admired, but we are lonely, we are misunderstood, we are underestimated. We must raise our voices. We should not be afraid of who we are. We should not be pressured into choosing one or the other. If no one will give us a home, we must create our own homes (e.g., here and here), create our own identity of having multiple identities, not because we are lesser, but because we represent something greater. How longer will we strive to fit into criteria that were not meant for us? How longer will we make excuses for being who we are? We should take pride in our work.

At the same time, if we remain in our lofty towers, we will become the same as those we criticize. We take from different pots, but we should also return to them. They may not want what we have to offer, but it is our duty. Individually, we are but small drops of water pushing against high stone walls, but together, we become powerful forces of nature. Our goal is not to break walls, but encourage gates, inlets, bays.

The greatest scholars were interdisciplinary. They were also considered crazy. Perhaps we are crazy. But let us be crazy together. I am here. Where are you?

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5 responses to “Manifesto of an interdisciplinary scholar

  1. Absolutely love this!!! It so refreshing that there are many among us breaking ground, creating new paradigms through openness and creativity.

  2. “The greatest leverage is at the interfaces”

    This truism is perhaps the #1 gem from Eberhardt Rechtin’s collection of system architecting heuristics. But in our organizations, who is minding these interfaces? Certainly not the specialists. It falls on that seeming outcast in our hyper-specialized world, the generalist, to tie all these different parts together!

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