Ad Hoc Committee for Interdisciplinary Academic Studies

Currently, Western Michigan University is home to several different types of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary programs that span both colleges and departments across campus. The term interdisciplinary refers to those academic programs and majors that are comprised of different units within the same discipline. Interdisciplinary Health Sciences would be an example. In contrast, the term multidisciplinary refers to those academic programs that span more than one field of study. This is evidenced by such programs as Product Design and Innovation as well as Global and International Studies.

Role Statement

The committee will examine the current practices of interdisciplinary academic studies at WMU and evaluate both obstacles and opportunities going forward. As part of its final report, the committee will provide examples of best practices of current programs at WMU and elsewhere, and also will provide recommended strategies with the goal of helping to advance interdisciplinary academic studies at the University. 

2019-20 Committee Charges

  • Identify and summarize the design and operations of existing interdisciplinary academic programs at WMU.
  • Identify examples of best practices and interdisciplinary academic programs at both WMU and select universities in the United States.
  • Identify future areas of growth related to interdisciplinary academic program study at WMU.
  • Develop best practices for promoting improved communication between departments whose curriculum shares common areas of study.
  • Identify ways WMU might approach the hiring of faculty for the purpose of interdisciplinary teaching and research.
  • Develop best practices for promoting improved communication between departments proposing a new interdisciplinary major and potential faculty on campus who might make good collaborators.
  • Develop and advance multidisciplinary research between and among faculty who are part of the greater WMU campus.
  • Develop best practices for teaching and on-line education.


Committee Officer

Richard Gershon, Chair

Ex Officio Member

Faculty Senate Executive Board

Appointed Members

Kimberly Doudna, Family and Consumer Sciences
Education and Human Development

Kristal Ehrhardt, Special Education and Literacy Studies
Education and Human Development

Michael Elwell, Richmond Institute of Product Design and Innovation
Fine Arts

Kieran Fogarty, Interdisciplinary Health Sciences (Ph.D.)
Health and Human Services

Tim Greene, Industrial and Entrepreneurial Engineering
Engineering and Applied Sciences

Mark Kelley, Interdisciplinary Health Programs
Health and Human Services

Michelle Metro-Roland, Faculty and Global Program Development
Haenicke Institute for Global Education

Steve Newell, Marketing

Maarten Vonhof, Institute for the Environment and Sustainability
Arts and Sciences