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Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies

Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies

Third Edition

November 2019 | 448 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies provides a comprehensive introduction to interdisciplinary studies with an approach that is conceptual and practical. Completely updated to reflect advances in the literature on research, learning, and assessment, the book describes the role of both disciplines and interdisciplinarity within the academy, and how these have evolved. Authors Allen F. Repko, Rick Szostak, and Michelle Phillips Buchberger effectively show students how to think like interdisciplinarians in order to facilitate their working with topics, complex problems, or themes that span multiple disciplines. 

New to the Third Edition are guiding questions at the start of each chapter, a discussion of the public policy issue of "basic income" as an example at the end of each chapter, application of interdisciplinary techniques in daily life, enhanced discussion of ethical decision-making, and updated examples and references throughout.

FREE SAGE edge online resources gives instructors and students the edge they need to succeed with an array of teaching and learning tools in one easy-to-navigate website.  Learn more.

About the Authors
Chapter 1 • Interdisciplinary Studies in the Real World
Why Interdisciplinary Studies Matters

What Is Driving Interdisciplinary Studies Today?

The Academic Benefits of Pursuing an Interdisciplinary Studies Degree

Interdisciplinary Studies and Your Career Development

A Threaded Example: Basic Income

Critical Thinking Questions

Applications and Exercises

Chapter 2 • The Rise of the Modern Disciplines and Interdisciplinarity
Why the Past Matters

The Rise of the Modern Disciplines

The Rise of Interdisciplinarity

Interdisciplinarity’s Criticism of the Disciplines

Revisiting the Basic Income

Critical Thinking Questions

Applications and Exercises

Chapter 3 • Interdisciplinary Studies Defined
Why Definitions Matter

Defining Interdisciplinary Studies

Differences Between Disciplinarity, Multidisciplinarity, Interdisciplinarity, and Transdisciplinarity

Two Conceptions of Interdisciplinarity

Useful Metaphors of Interdisciplinary Studies

Basic Income Revisited

Critical Thinking Questions

Applications and Exercises

Chapter 4 • The Interdisciplinary Studies “Cognitive Toolkit”
How She Did It

Intellectual Capacities




Ethical Analysis

Ways to Apply Your Interdisciplinary “Toolkit”

Basic Income

Critical Thinking Questions

Applications and Exercises

Chapter 5 • Academic Disciplines
Disciplines and Disciplinarity Defined

The Epistemic, Social, and Organizational Dimensions of Disciplines

The Concept of Disciplinary Perspective

The Defining Elements of a Discipline

Typical Methods

Disciplinary Perspective and Basic Income

Critical Thinking Questions

Applications and Exercises

Chapter 6 • The “DNA” of Interdisciplinary Studies
Assumptions of Interdisciplinary Studies

Theories Supportive of Interdisciplinary Studies

Epistemology of Interdisciplinary Studies

How Interdisciplinary Studies “Sees”

Reflections on Basic Income

Critical Thinking Questions

Applications and Exercises

Chapter 7 • Thinking Critically About Disciplinary Perspectives
What It Means to Think Critically About Disciplinary Perspectives

Developing a Sophisticated Conception of Knowledge

Why Interrogate Disciplinary Perspectives (or Practice Critical Pluralism)

How Interdisciplinarians Interrogate Disciplinary Perspectives

Basic Income

Critical Thinking Scenario

Critical Thinking Questions

Applications and Exercises

Chapter 8 • Thinking Critically About Disciplinary Insights
Critical Thinking Attitudes

Categories of Statements

Critically Analyzing Disciplinary Insights

Critical Thinking About Basic Income

Critical Thinking Questions

Applications and Exercises

Chapter 9 • Thinking Critically About Integration and Its Results
Approaches to Interdisciplinary Integration

The Broad Model Approach to Integration

Strategies for Integration

The Result of Integration

Reflecting on What Was Achieved

Integration and Basic Income

Critical Thinking Scenario

Critical Thinking Questions

Applications and Exercises

Chapter 10 • An Interdisciplinary Research “Road Map”
The Power and Usefulness of Research

Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Approaches to Research

The Broad Model of the Interdisciplinary Research Process

STEP 1: Define the Problem or State the Research Question

Some Useful Group Exercises

STEP 2: Justify Using an Interdisciplinary Approach

Researching a Basic Income

Critical Thinking Questions

Applications and Exercises

Chapter 11 • Identifying Relevant Disciplines and Gathering Information About the Problem
STEP 3: Identify Relevant Disciplines

STEP 4: Conduct a Literature Search

The Broad Model Rubric Applied to STEPS 3 and 4

Investigating Basic Income

Critical Thinking Questions

Critical Thinking Scenario

Peer Evaluation and Edit Activity

Chapter 12 • Analyzing Insights and Reflecting on Process
STEP 5: Critically Analyze the Disciplinary Insights Into the Problem

STEP 6: Reflect on How an Interdisciplinary Approach Has Enlarged Your Understanding of the Problem

Basic Income Revisited


Critical Thinking Questions

Appendix A: Intellectual Autobiography

Appendix B: Student Portfolios and Blogging

Appendix C: Service Learning, Internships, and Alternative Projects for Nontraditional Students

Appendix D: The Broad Model Rubric: Instructor Version and Sample Student Outline

Appendix E: Answer Key

Glossary of Key Terms


Student Study Site
SAGE edge for students enhances learning, it’s easy to use, and offers:
  • an open-access site that makes it easy for students to maximize their study time, anywhere, anytime;
  • eFlashcards that strengthen understanding of key terms and concepts;
  • eQuizzes that allow students to practice and assess how much they’ve learned and where they need to focus their attention; and
  • case studies from SAGE Research Methods tying important research to chapter concepts to strengthen learning.
Instructor Teaching Site
COMING SOON FOR FALL 2020 CLASSES: A test bank with a variety of question types to accompany this book. Check the website at: in July.

SAGE edge for instructors
supports your teaching by making it easy to integrate quality content and create a rich learning environment for students with:
  • a password-protected site for complete and protected access to all text-specific instructor resources;  
  • editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides that offer complete flexibility for creating a multimedia presentation for your course;
  • exclusive access to full-text, influential case studies from SAGE Research Methods, which have been carefully selected to tie important research and scholarship to chapter concepts; and
  • figures and tables taken from the manuscript. 

Written clearly and concisely, this book should be welcomed by instructors and students alike.  Filled with “real world” examples on most every page, this user-friendly book is the blueprint for understanding interdisciplinary research.  

Michael Rubinoff
Arizona State University

The new edition continues to offer the most comprehensive foundation for understanding key concepts in interdisciplinary studies with both a scholarly and practical approach. Students also have opportunities to build their own ‘cognitive toolkits’ through applications and exercises. A welcome addition includes a threaded example demonstrating interdisciplinary thinking in action. 

Rhonda Davis
Northern Kentucky University

This textbook is a great guidance tool for teaching the value of interdisciplinary scholarship and a method for the integration of disciplines, perspectives and ideas.  The text is useful for instructors and students in finding a pedagogical plan toward interdisciplinary study and research.  The third edition offers improved clarity and examples to important sections. It provides a deeper explanation of the history and ethics applied to interdisciplinary analysis.  

Lisa Turner de Vera
Florida State University

The third edition has clear language, well-constructed figures, and photographs. The textbook provides excellent cases, research, and examples for student learning that will garner student interest and engagement, particularly the discussion on basic income in each chapter.  The variety of application exercises and discussion prompts not only give students the opportunity to practice critical thinking, self-reflection, and improve their metacognitive skills but also allow for flexibility for the instructor. 

Sylvia Rogers
Auburn University

Repko, Szostak, and Buchberger have revised Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies in such a way that makes this text so much more meaningful and useful for the professor and the student.  The end of chapter critical thinking and application exercises were a highlight of the previous text, but the new revised edition even adds more ideas and application scenarios that are extremely thought provoking.  As one introductory interdisciplinary student exclaimed last semester, “Why isn’t all of education like this?” 

Lorene Heuvelman-Hutchinson
North Greenville University
Key features
  • Guiding questions help students understand the purpose of each chapter and provide prompts for class discussions.
  • Application of interdisciplinary techniques in daily life show students the connection to their lives and that the book is valuable beyond academic purposes.
  • Enhanced discussion of ethical decision-making shows students how to cope with ethical disagreement within complex issues facing contemporary society.
  • Closing section on basic income in each chapter shows how the analysis of each chapter builds upon preceding chapters and how to approach a complex issue in detail. 
  • Pedagogical features and activities throughout the book offer students projects that they can perform in order to learn by doing. 


  • Graphics, figures, tables, cartoons, and photographs make complex and unfamiliar concepts clear and understandable.
  • Examples of professional and student work, pictures, and stories (such as the fable of the elephant house) are woven into the narrative.
  • In-text learning aids, including end-of-chapter Critical Thinking Questions, Applications and Exercises, and Critical Thinking Scenarios, help students master the material.
  • Coverage of the Broad Model presents an easy-to-follow step-by-step approach to the interdisciplinary research process, emphasizes the importance of personal reflection, and introduces students to interdisciplinary thinking.
  • Guidance on group or individual projects included in the final three chapters provides easy-to-follow steps for success.

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