Disruptions in the Fourth Industrial Revolution have made it necessary for skilled workers to pursue lifelong learning; invariably placing demands on education infrastructures worldwide.
With the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating digital transformation and transactions, there is a greater need to close the gap between education and industry. A long-term solution lies in grooming, up-skilling and re-skilling a generation of interdisciplinary thinkers and innovators who will thrive in the future of work.
In this two-part SUSS Podcast Special Episode, Professor Cheong Hee Kiat (President, SUSS) sits down with Dr Jimmy Wong (Senior Lecturer in Marketing Degree Programme, SUSS School of Business) to discuss the future of interdisciplinary learning and how it impacts educators and students.
“Today’s problems are very complex and are needing of a few professional verticals. The kind of training we want to give our students is to understand that you are not able to solve the problem on your own,” Prof Cheong explains. This is where an interdisciplinary learning mindset advocates the gathering of different professional viewpoints to develop a holistic solution, like a body requiring the interdisciplinary application of medical practice.
To instill this DNA into students, some conditions are required: a university management that agrees to embrace this as part of its organisational culture; curriculum that allows students of different disciplines to embark on projects and electives; and training for faculty members to handle the discourse that will take place among students of different disciplines.
Contrary to the perception that people need to be groomed as generalists instead specialists, Prof Cheong still believes learners need to go deep in the discipline that they have embarked on. The difference lies in their attitude that will keep them open-minded and respectful of other viewpoints – keys to see the interconnection between methods coming from different disciplines.
He adds, “The student does not need to know deeply about the other disciplines, but he has to be cognitively flexible.”