Inside Higher Education posted an article about the Dean of Graduate Studies at Northwestern pushing for more interdisciplinary programs, challenging the hegemony of departments. Interesting idea. At first, I was quite excited. Wow, there is movement. But... I'm just so damn angry at being where I am. I am infuriated that while interdisciplinarity is prized for graduate students it is seemingly unrewarded when it comes time to hire faculty. At least that's how it seems in my discipline. That's the point, I truly have training across the disciplines. The course of study that I followed, the dissertation that I wrote, fit neatly into the planned new structure that this dean proposes.
Yet, show me the jobs! I think the dean has a good idea, but he's going about it all backwards. First, create the jobs, then the interdisciplinarity will follow. Hire the faculty who are engaging across disciplines, reward cross-disciplinary research and teaching. Innovative, engaging, interdisciplinary faculty will attract students. Get the faculty first!
Here's my proposal: Deans or Presidents should offer special funding to the university for new FTEs, with one catch. At least two departments would have to collaborate on the posting, and the faculty member hired would hold a joint appointment.