Cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary both sound like totally cool concepts. Intersecting different areas of thought to generate creative results. But what is the difference between cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary?
I posted this question across the internet. The answers fell into two groups.
1) Interdisciplinary is study in two different disciplines. Cross is study in one discipline that reaches out to others.
Interdisciplinarity involves an integration of the approaches, insights, and methods between two or more disciplines. A commonly used example is environmental science, which itself is a combination of geology, chemistry, biology, and even some civil engineering amongst others.
The rule of thumb for cross-disciplinarity is being able to use the word ‘of’ in the description. For example, the Literature of Victorian England, or Politics of Gender. Cross-disciplinarity requires no integration of ideas and is typically the use of one discipline to look at some aspect of another.
Cross-disciplinary should be limited to 2 disciplines. Inter-disciplinary means spanning 2 or more disciplines.
Something that’s interdisciplinary covers more than one field of study. If you take an interdisciplinary science and literature class, you might read a science fiction novel and then explore the scientific ideas behind it.
The word interdisciplinary can be broken into its parts: inter-, which means “between” in Latin, and disciplinary, which is from the Latin disciplina and means teaching or knowledge. Interdisciplinary means between fields, but they don’t have to be unrelated disciplines. You can do interdisciplinary work between two sciences, for example. An interdisciplinary conference on biology and computer science might include workshops on both fields.
When we take an interdisciplinary approach to a study, we integrate, let’s say, two disciplines – their methods, terminology, research, etc – in our study. (Cf. In medicine, an interdisciplinary team is “a group that consists of specialists from several fields combining skills and resources.”)
The Cross-disciplinary Scholars in Science and Technology program seeks to strengthen international collaboration by inviting highly accomplished students to study and engage in research at a university. The students are supported by institutional agreements with universities abroad and by scholarships from their home institutions.
With a crossdisciplinary approach, we remain rooted in a particular discipline as we make a leap into, say, one other discipline to study some aspects of it from our original point of view. The aim is not integration, but to highlight aspects of the first discipline by means of studying the other.
2) Flip the order of the first point. Crossdisciplinary is study in two different areas. Inter is study in one discipline that reaches out to others
I’ll give it a shot. Interdisciplinary to me means drawing from 2 fields of study within a discipline, while cross disciplinary is, possibly, drawing multiple fields over multiple disciplines.
They are VERY closely related and often used as synonyms. If you use ‘discipline’ in a larger format, covering more topics, then ‘cross-disciplinary’ goes between topics, like art and science, and ‘interdisciplinary ‘ is usually within a topic, like different kinds of sciences.
What do you think does inter-disciplinary mean mutiple areas or one?
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