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Christine McElreavy

My Experience at Universite Sainte-Anne

au revoir
Taken by my dad as I left the campus on August 6th, 2016. 

The French Immersion program in Nova-Scotia at Universite Sainte-Anne was one of the most amazing times of my life so far. So, what exactly is this program? Well, people come from many different parts of the world to a small town in Nova-Scotia to fully immerse themselves in french. I went to the 2016 summer program for five weeks. I had never done anything like it before. I’d never even been out of New England! I went to Canada (where I’d never been) to stay in a room with someone (who I didn’t know) and to speak French (which I’d been teaching myself for just a couple of months).

When I arrived, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I wasn’t sure how formal everything

l'orange1
Practicing for the Comic Olympics where we had to pass an orange down the line only using our chins.

was going to be. I was very happy to finally reach my destination after about 10 hours of driving along with a two and a half hour long ferry. I got my key and went to my room and took a long, much needed nap.

On the first Monday, we were still allowed to speak English. We were all split into different groups and assigned our times for the written and oral placement exams. Because I hardly knew any French, these exams

l'orange2were quite difficult. This didn’t bother me because I knew I would be put in the Beginner 1 course before I had even arrived. That night, we had an assembly where the staff was introduced and we chose the workshops that we would be doing for the next five weeks. I was in the workshop Conversation for Beginner 1, to help me learn useful vocabulary and phrases. Right after we chose our workshops, we had to sign the contract to vow that we will only speak French for next five weeks.

jeudi le 7 juillet
A typical Thursday.

We had a set schedule every day. We would wake up for breakfast and go to our first class. After that would be an information session where we would be told what the activities for the day were. But they weren’t just spewing information, they were singing, dancing and acting out skits that they had created to make this half-hour session interesting. They would also announce which trip we would be going on for that day. There was one bus that would take us to different destinations every day for fun or for things that we needed. We would put our name in a box and hopefully get picked to go on a trip to places such
as Tim Horton’s or Foodland. After the session was our second class,and then lunch.

 

samedi 9 juillet.jpg
A typical Saturday.

 

There would always be some sort of activity in the
evening that wasn’t usually mandatory
but fun. For example, there was a mime who came named Ryan Doucette and there were also musical performances by Cy, Luc Tardif and Radio Radio. Every Friday and Saturday there would be themed parties at the bar on campus. Some of the themes were Toga,
Hawaiian, ’50s and Western. My favorite day at Sainte-Anne was on the night of the Halloween party. It was on a Saturday and my birthday was the next day so my friends and I stayed up at the bar past midnight in all of our awesome costumes and celebrated.

 

 

halloween.jpg
Most of the people in my dorm, Normande, in their costumes.

 

whale
One of the many whales seen near Digby, Nova-Scotia. 

Another fun day was when we went on a whale watching excursion. We went on such a
beautiful day and there were so many whales out. Apparently, the whales really like the attention and they were eating it up. I probably saw about fifteen whales that day.

 

All in all, I’m so glad that I went to Universite Sainte-Anne. I was nervous at first but there wasn’t ever a time when I was completely overwhelmed. There were so many people there that were beginners in French just like me. Everyone understood that we were there to learn but we also had so much fun. It’s the sort of program where you are going to learn as much as you want to. If you go to the program and don’t want to learn, you won’t, but you’d just be cheating yourself. I advanced so much in my French because I didn’t settle to learn just the basics taught in class. I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity.

final ceremony
The final ceremony with everyone in the program in the cafeteria. 

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My Journey in Interdisciplinary Studies.

When I entered Intro to Interdisciplinary Studies, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I was one of the undeclared students that found myself in this course because I expressed a small idea for what I had in mind for a major. From what my undeclared advisor told me, I thought that throughout the class we would be creating a major, which is what we did. The difference between my expectation and the reality is that most people were farther developed with their plans for their major. All I had was an idea that I wasn’t sure if I was going to commit to, while my peers had concrete ideas in mind for their major.

I honestly just thought the word “interdisciplinarity” meant “DIY”. The first time I had heard of it was when my advisor mentioned it and how it was when you could make your own major. I hadn’t given its meaning a second thought.

My understanding of Interdisciplinary Studies has come leaps and bounds. I went from not knowing what it means at all, to having a decent understanding of it. I would now define it as taking ideas from two or more disciplines and combining them to create a new idea. This is not to be confused with multidisciplinarity, which doesn’t blend the ideas of the disciplines.

The four theories of Interdisciplinary Studies are complexity theory, perspective taking theory, common ground theory, and integration theory. My program relies on complexity theory (which entails that we interdisciplinarians let things be complex and don’t simplify) because I will be learning about different cultures. Culture is a subject that feels never ending to me. Culture changes and adapts as time moves on, therefore I cannot simply learn everything about multiple cultures. I have to let cultures be complex and think about how the different cultures are interconnected.

My program relies on perspective taking theory because in order to combat an issue, I

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melkmeisterin.  Buecher. 2007.

could look in the perspective of each culture. If I am in a foreign country, I would look through their perspective because my perspective may not apply well to the situation. I could also use common ground theory to look at different perspectives. I study an issue
and look through the lens of each culture to determine the best course of action. I might not come to same conclusion if I only look through one perspective. This is also the case for integration theory because I will take the ideas from the different cultures and blend them together to create new ideas that I can use to solve issues.

Inderdisciplinarity matters to universities and to the world because we provide different perspectives on issues. Disciplinary people tend to have what we call “tunnel vision”. This is where people only see in according to their epistemology, or their truth for their discipline. Having an interdisciplinarian work on an issue helps to broaden the perspective of the issue. Broadening the perspective can open new doors and create new pathways of thought that wouldn’t otherwise occur.

My hopes for the future in Interdisciplinary Studies is that I would continue with this major. I have poured a lot of energy and commitment into this major, so I really want it to work out. I hope that the classes that I will be taking in my major next semester will not be too strenuous and that it will just make me more excited about my major.

Finally, my hopes for the general future is to just find happiness in my career. I believe that it is truly important to be happy in your career because it is what you will be spending all of your time and energy doing. So many people settle for an occupation that’s easy or pays well, but they end up being miserable. I don’t want to be miserable. I want to be excited to go to work every day and I want to come home and excitedly tell my family about my day. I believe that I could do that through Interdisciplinary Studies.

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My Summary of “Interdisciplinary Studies and Comparative Literature in China and the West” by Aaron Lee Moore

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Sean MacEntee. Education. 2010.

Aaron Lee Moore produced an article called Interdisciplinary Studies and Comparative Literature in China and the WestAs it says in the title, this article is about the different standpoints on Interdisciplinary Studies in the discipline comparative literature between China and the West. Moore describes both sides of the disagreement and approaches them logically.

To start, I had to look up the definition of comparative literature to make sure I understood. It is a discipline that studies literature and the differences in cultures across linguistic, national, and disciplinary barriers.

One of the arguments for China was that there is a language barrier. In order to read higher level articles in Chinese, it requires many extensive years of schooling to be able to
comprehend. It is not as difficult in English speaking countries because our languages is
more simple. There is also a time gap between when an article is published in English and when it is finished being translated into Chinese. This creates a disconnect between China and the West, but Moore says that it isn’t an excuse for the Chinese not to use the new ideas produced in the West, “that is not to say that just because a theory or methodology arises in the West, Chinese scholars should be obliged to adopt it” (Moore 4).

Another point made is how China is more traditional and likes to use the already existing disciplines to make their judgments. Chinese scholars are afraid of broadening their

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mook<3. chinese characters. 2008.

disciplines because they want to simplify everything rather than leaving it complex, as an interdisciplinarian should. China’s main fear is that interdisciplinarity will not be precise enough and the disciplines will be run by amateurs. Interdisciplinarity is an accepted practice in the West, but it isn’t in China. Just because it is more easily accepted here, doesn’t mean that China should just accept it without debating it. ” The concern of some Chinese scholars is that the integration of cultural studies, parallel studies, influence studies, and interdisciplinary studies will broaden the discipline of comparative literature to the point of dissolution and many Chinese scholars still feel the field is too broad and requires more specific definition(s)” (Moore 3).

This article was helpful to me because I love to learn about different cultures. The program that I made is about French and Spanish cultures and I would have done more diverse cultures if they were offered at my university and if they would fit into my program. I sometimes forget about how schooling is different in other cultures, so reading this article really opened my eyes to that.

References

Moore, Aaron Lee. “Interdisciplinary Studies and Comparative Literature in China and the West.” Purdue University. N.p., Dec. 2013. Web. http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2359&context=clcweb.

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Perspective Taking Theory in Interdisciplinary Studies

Perspective taking theory in interdisciplinary studies is being able to look a certain issue, problem, object, behavior, or phenomenon from the perspective of each of the disciplines involved and being able to see the similarities and differences between them. Cognitive psychologists have created a list of five important claims that are imperative to become interdisciplinary and being able to be productive and useful.

  1. “Perspective taking reduces the human tendency to negatively stereotype individuals and groups.” Keeping a negative stereotype of a person or group that is the subject of the study with definitely alter the interdisciplinary study and ruin the outcome.
  2. “Perspective taking helps to move us developmentally from a clear understanding of
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    tnekralc. Perspective. 2015.

    the differences between disciplines and their perspectives to recognizing distinguishing characteristics of disciplines: the kinds of questions they ask and their rules of evidence.”

  3. “Perspective taking facilitates our ability to assemble new sets of potential solutions to a given problem.” When multiple disciplines come together and share their ideas, you can make creative solutions to problems.
  4. “Perspective taking heightens our awareness that we are biased in the direction of our own knowledge whether it comes from our life experience or prior academic training.” As interdisciplinarians, we need to understand our biases so we do not distort our analysis of the issue.
  5. “Perspective taking invites us to engage in role taking.” There are three aspects of  perspective taking and each are applicable to interdisciplinary work:
    • The first is to “accurately perceive how others see and understand the world.” This means to mentally step into the shoes of a specific role.
    • The second is to “view a situation broadly from multiple perspectives.” This means that we, as interdisciplinarians, can’t have tunnel vision. We have to see from multiple angles and not just from a specific discipline’s standpoint.
    • The third is to “perceive the other’s perspective in depth and have a full understanding of the other’s perspective.” Depth in interdisciplinary work means disciplinary depth. This is an especially important important skill for people in the humanities and the fine and performing arts because they need to completely understand the identity of another person.

 

This relates to my program because while learning French and Spanish cultures, I will need to think in their perspective in order to completely absorb their mindset and better understand them. If I didn’t think in their perspective, I would just assume that everyone is like an American, which is far from true.

References

Repko, A. F., Szostak, R. & Buchberger, M. P. (2014). Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

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My Interdisciplinary Studies Program: International Languages and Cultures

I first remember my interest in languages and cultures when I was eleven years old. My
middle school had a class called World

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Alaja. Languages. 2007.

Languages that introduced us to French, Spanish, and German to prepare us for the language that we would take in high school. It was so cool to learn the differences and similarities between their cultures. I ended up choosing German, because I thought it was the most exotic out of the three, and continued to take courses in high school. I ended up being a teacher’s assistant for the German teacher and it was a great experience.

 

I came to Plymouth State University unsure about what I wanted to pursue. Unfortunately, all of the German courses are getting deleted from the system, so I won’t be able to

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tomsbirthday. Berlin Wall with graffiti. 2007.

continue learning German at school. This won’t and hasn’t stopped me from learning it in my spare time. However, before I knew the German courses were getting deleted, I told my
advisor that I wanted to create a major where I would learn a couple of languages, one of which would have been German. I was then instructed to enter Interdisciplinary Studies and create the major that I wanted. Once in Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies, I found out that German was getting deleted. This came as quite a shock but I moved on and decided to focus in French and Spanish.

 

International Languages and Cultures is a program that will allow me to be able to learn both French and Spanish. I created this program because I wanted to learn different languages. Learning languages is a useful skill that can be used in many occupations. Plymouth State University doesn’t have anything like this, because I wanted my knowledge to be equal between French and Spanish. I didn’t want to only major in French or Spanish, because I wanted to gain a broader range of language knowledge. Plymouth State University did have a major that I was interested in called Modern Languages, but it is unfortunately going to be deleted in fall 2016.

My QRCO is Introduction to Language and Linguistics. This is necessary for my major, because I am going to be learning different languages so it is an important course to begin my major with. It explores many aspects of languages that would be useful to apply to the ones that I will be learning. My TECO is Advanced French. I chose this because it ties in nicely with my major. It is a class that I need in order to gain further knowledge in French, so putting it as my TECO fulfills both the requirement of knowledge in French and the need for a TECO. My WRCO is French Culture and Conversation. My advisor Katharine Harrington recommended that I take this course because it would be useful for applying my French knowledge.

Intermediate French I, Intermediate French II, and Advanced French are all classes that

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Yoann JEZQUEL. Paris. 2011

are necessary in order to learn French. Without them, the major would make no sense. I will be attending a French immersion program in the summer of 2016 that will transfer six
credits worth of French towards my degree. I mainly did this to make all of the classes fit into my major. If I had Fundamentals in French I and Fundamentals in French II, my major would be exceeding the amount of credits that I am allowed to have. As a solution, the immersion program will replace the French fundamentals courses, and leave enough space for the rest of the courses that I need. It will also be an amazing experience that will allow me to travel which will be wonderful because I have never been out of New England.

 

Quebec Culture and Literature, French for Business, Diversity of Franco Communities, and French Culture and Conversation are all courses that will broaden my knowledge in French culture. These courses will teach me not only how to speak French, but how to understand different aspects of their culture. It will help me to become more knowledgeable in French overall.

Fundamentals in Spanish II, Intermediate Spanish I, Intermediate Spanish II, and

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Nick Kenrick. Mexico. 2012.

Advanced Spanish are all of the classes that are necessary in order to learn Spanish. Fundamentals in Spanish I didn’t fit into my contract so I will be taking it as a connection in fall 2016. Spanish Culture and Civilization, Spanish for Social Services, and Spanish for Business are all courses that will broaden my knowledge in Spanish culture. These courses will teach me not only how to speak Spanish, but how to understand different aspects of their culture.

 

In conclusion, International Languages and Cultures is really unlike any other major offered here at Plymouth State University. This program will really help me become more fluent in French and Spanish. I don’t think I will ever stop learning these languages. Once I graduate, I will most likely continue to learn more about French and Spanish and the cultures associated with them in my spare time. My goal is to be able to speak in both languages in a professional manner. Multilingual fluency is a great skill that I can use to be able to acquire a job and travel around the world.

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Theory in Interdisciplinary Studies

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines theory as “a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena.” A student in interdisciplinary studies needs to understand theory well for four useful reasons.

The first reason is, in order to work in a discipline successfully, you have to be able to use the appropriate vocabulary for each discipline. The second reason is that theory is often talked about among scholars in different disciplines and is what creates the types of

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Lemoox. Theory. 2014

questions that are asked, what is investigated, and the understandings that come from this. The third reason is that theories create a lot of the disciplinary understandings for each problem and in these understandings is where an interdisciplinary studies student would need to mesh as you gain more knowledge in interdisciplinary studies. The final reason is that there is a straightforward link between a discipline’s favored theories and its favored methods of research. You should not just accept evidence for a theory from the methods favored by a discipline all willy nilly, because disciplines choose methods that make their theories look good.

The program I created with my major is a bit different from other interdisciplinary studies programs because the disciplines aren’t much different from each other. I am combining French and Spanish and learning their languages and about their cultures. These disciplines aren’t very different, as they are in the same department at my university. Their theories and insights won’t be very different when it comes to learning the languages (or maybe it will,  I haven’t started yet so I can’t be certain), but I bet there will be differences when I start learning about their cultures. People from different cultures tend to think differently, so I bet when learning about them there will be differences between their theories and understandings.

References

Repko, A. F., Szostak, R. & Buchberger, M. P. (2014). Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

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Interdisciplinarity in Science and Technology

Science needs technology in order to progress. If technology is given up on, scientists will not get the refined tools they need in order to make new discoveries. Imagine where we

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Riecken, Thomas. Science. 2013

would be in 50 years if we stopped trying to improve our scientific instruments? There are three interdisciplinary occurrences between science and technology. 1) Methods, concepts, and tools are subtly borrowed daily. 2) They apply the saying “Knowledge from one discipline in order to contextualize another” or in other words, using the things that have been learns in one discipline to understand another. 3) New groups are forming that have members from both science and technology working together on common interests.

 

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abdullah.khan2012. technology. 2012.

There are also three larger trends in science and technology. The first one is that most of the interdisciplinary work done in the scientific field is driven by practical problem solving. The second trend is that disciplines have become easier to cross and multidisciplinary. The last trend is that staff are weaving new information about genetics, cognition, and the cosmos into the science curriculum to create courses around difficult technical and social problems.

 

This is important to me because, as a society, we require science and technology to continually improve. If technology doesn’t improve, science won’t improve. If science doesn’t improve, medicine won’t improve. I would like to someday see a cure for cancer. It doesn’t seem fully achievable yet but with the persistent improvement of technology, I believe we can get there. It was interesting to learn about how science and technology are so intertwined because it was so obvious that I had never really noticed it before.

References

 Repko, A. F., Szostak, R. & Buchberger, M. P. (2014). Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

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Interdisciplinary Success Through Music!

Laurent Dubois Romance Studies faculty studio headshotLaurent Dubois specializes in the history and culture of the Atlantic world. His original goal was to create a book about the history of the banjo. Dubois received the New Directions Fellowship in 2010 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation so he could get training in music and ethnomusicology. He ended up learning a lot about the background of instruments and music became the focal point of his book rather than the disciplines around music. He took music theory classes and learned to play the mbira! Dubois earned and interdisciplinary doctorate in history and anthropology and says “the fellowship more deeply anchored his sense of what it means to work across disciplines.”

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Photo showing mbiras (aka thumb pianos).

Dubois also states, “I think my book took longer to write because of the fellowship, and as a result it is a lot better in the end,” he adds.” This shows how interdisciplinary studies affected his success. The book ultimately turned out better because he took the time to learn across multiple disciplines. Broadening his knowledge change the focus of his book to make it more informative and interesting.

Read more about Dubois here!

Works Cited

Bongolnc. Mbiras. 2011. N.p.

“Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke.” Transcending the Limits of Language. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2016.

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Appreciation of Diversity in Interdisciplinary Studies

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Appreciation of diversity basically means to keep an open mind. Being open to different perspectives regarding a situation and also being eager to hear the other person’s perspective in order to learn and grow. Being open doesn’t mean, however, to just give in to the other person’s perspective. It just means that you listen to what they have to say and then make a critical judgement after you have heard all of the options.

Repko also states how it can be easier to appreciate the diversity of ideas rather than diverse people. “Though we may hold different ethnic or racial roots, we must10314223086_6944ddb2cc_z acknowledge our commonality of being human …We are not just individuals, but members of an incredibly large and very diverse family” (Repko 54). We should not exclude ideas because the person stating the idea is a different ethnicity. Another point Repko made
from this is that, being interdisciplinarians, we are aware of how related we are to one another and we bridge the gap that separates us from one another. Since we have to learn multiple disciplines, we have to learn how to use different ideas and skills from those disciplines in order to solve our differences.

Appreciation of diversity applies to me directly since I will be studying languages. The best way to bridge gaps between different ethnicities is to be able to speak their language. If you speak the other person’s language, you can communicate with them and understand their point of view better. I want to be clear that appreciation of diversity is the appreciation of different ideas not about ethnicities but all ideas from all ethnicities should be respected the same.

References

 Diversity. Oregon Department of Transportation’s photostream. 2013

Diversity. Pedro Lucena. 2009. N.p.

 Repko, A. F., Szostak, R. & Buchberger, M. P. (2014). Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

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