Indiana State University Newsroom

Interdisciplinary research opens possibilities in student learning

February 3, 2015

Several Indiana State undergraduate students eagerly packed their bags for a 3-5 day excursion before Thanksgiving Break last November. Traveling to San Juan, Puerto Rico for the National Women’s Studies Association Conference, students enrolled in Debra Israel’s Gender and Economics class, prepared for an experience with interdisciplinary research.

“The overall theme of the conference was feminist transgressions,” Hanna Brant, a senior political science major from Frankfort, said.

With more than 2,000 people in attendance, professors and students from across the nation presented research topics varying from women and economics to sexual assault victims to activism at the conference.

“A lot is happening in the academic world that people don’t know about. There [were so many topics covered] it would be hard to find something that you weren’t interested in,” Brant said.

The bilingual Spanish and English speaking conference gave the small group of State students a sense of international travel.

“You couldn’t sit in an area and only hear English,” Brant said. “It was an awesome experience.”

The students, varying in majors from political science, economics, criminology and communication, with minors in International Studies and Women’s Studies, also came to appreciate interdisciplinary research a bit more by navigating which area of study interested them most.

“I really want students to get exposed to these type of academic conferences so they can see the large variety of things that people do in academia,” Debra Israel, associate professor of economics and interim director of Interdisciplinary Programs, said.

Upon return to Indiana State, students gave a report with Israel’s class sharing their experience and acquired knowledge from the conference.

“[It is] always my idea to get students excited about maybe even developing their own research ideas and presenting at conferences [in future years],” Israel said.

It is also her desire that the travel program expands in future years, the National Women’s Studies Conference is taking place in Milwaukee next November, it will be “a little bit easier to get to.”

Funded in part by the Center for Community Engagement, College of Arts and Sciences and Interdisciplinary Programs, the trip gave students an advantage in learning from multiple angles.

“When you go to an academic conference that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to see just staying at our university, it can really expand what your idea of what a field is about,” Israel said. “So I think it’s really exciting and a good way to expose students to a broader array than what they can get from just one professor and just one course.”


Contact: Debra Israel, associate professor of economics and interim director of Interdisciplinary Programs, Indiana State University, or 812-237-2165

Writer: Sadie All, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, or 812-237-3773