Have you noticed how, for example, doctors think differently to engineers, scientists think differently to lawyers, entrepreneurs think differently to graphic designers, managers think differently to mathematicians and so on? How does thinking in a certain way influence what you do and who you become?
Equally interesting to me are those individuals who cross disciplinary boundaries and switch from one profession to another. For example, scientists who practice as lawyers, doctors who become management consultants, graphic designers who become web developers, or statisticians who get into data analytics and so on. How do these professionals learn to think in new ways?
I am fascinated by such professionals and their ways of thinking, learning, and doing. My own life journey has involved exploring the practices of Engineering, Design and Interactive Arts, and Education. Along the way I have researched and taught how we can develop various disciplinary competencies. Some ways of thinking that have attracted my attention over the years are systems thinking, design thinking, mathematical thinking, critical thinking, interpretive thinking, creative thinking, and entrepreneurial thinking.
My educational, research, and professional trajectory reflects a deep love for understanding, applying, and teaching various disciplinary modes of thought and practice. In my PhD studies in Engineering Education I investigated how written and oral communications skills can be integrated into a problem-based approach to promote systems thinking. The inquiry was informed by literature from multiple domains: Education, Philosophical Hermeneutics, Cognitive Psychology, Anthropology, Qualitative Research Methodologies and Methods, Science Technology and Design Studies, Sociology of Risk and Safety, and Studies in Organizational Learning and Management. Exposure to such diverse disciplinary communities sensitized me to the unique styles as well as common features of academic thinking, research, and writing within and across those domains.
Disciplinary practitioners are socialized to think and practice in particular ways. Think about someone you know who might be, for example, an engineer, a nurse, a psychologist, a mathematician, a game designer, a geologist, or a philosopher. How can you tell them apart?
One way to answer this question is to study how each of these professionals exhibits characteristic habits of thought, speech, and action. In their professional lives, they develop and apply specific habits of mind as well as behaviours which represent what professionals in those disciplines are expected to do. Over several years, I have taught some of these disciplinary habits to students in the STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines.
In WRDS 150B, my students and I explore the topic of behaviours, norms, and behavioural change and how these have been investigated by non-Arts disciplinary researchers and scholars. We study peer-reviewed journal articles in disciplines including but not limited to Business, Hospitality, Design, Engineering, Computer Sciences, and Occupational Health and Safety Science. We will: