21st Century Conferences: Increasing Faculty Competitiveness

[This video blog interviews Dr. Joseph Bonnici, College of Business Professor at Central Connecticut State University and Dr. MeHee Hyun, Professor of Liberal Studies at Antioch University.  The discussion introduces multiple discipline conferences and how faculty can benefit from them to increase their competitiveness and effectiveness.]

Before jumping right into the multi-disciplinary discussion, let’s take a look at what inspired me to research the issue.  I have recently established a university Publish or Perish club (PPC) to generate a culture of research and student publication.  Student members benefit from and prefer using collaborative models to co-author their publications.  Because the club is open to all university students including diverse backgrounds, grade levels, and research interests, students are reporting an increase in their writing quality and creativity.  The PPC’s multidimensional matrix of complimentary academic interests has inspired robust research through cross-discipline and cross-department communication.  Partnerships amongst the colleges of Business, Education, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Medicine, Student Affairs, the Diversity Center, and the Recreation center are just a few examples.  Students range from incoming freshmen to graduating PhD students and have shared that they benefit from working together.

This successful premise of cross-discipline collaborative student networking is transferable into faculty networks.  (Do you see where I’m heading?)  Where does faculty go to share their research and learn about new research?  Traditionally, they attend single-discipline academic conferences; but increasing trends of multiple academic disciplines have recreated higher education conferences.  For example, today I attended the 2012: International Conference for Academic Disciplines in Las Vegas, NV.  It is hosted by the International Journal of Arts and Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  The journal believes that the conference’s enriched culture of international perspective and academic frames provide faculty with a more robust conference experience.  Today’s multiple discipline conference and networking structure has inspired many new ideas.  For example, Dr. Donald Noone, Division of Business Professor at Caldwell College, introduced the benefits of Transformative Learning Protocols.  Even though the idea came from a business presentation, I can use the concept by customizing the model to fit my specific instructional objectives.

Complimentary research and expertise beyond a single discipline can contribute to a more dynamic research perspective.  Like the PPC, multiple discipline partnerships can offer faculty diverse research perspective that applies to their professional interest.  Isn’t this concept of blending and pairing complimentary disciplines what institutions like Harvard have done while creating their newer PhD programs? (Discipline-Plus Model)

Single-discipline conferences are beneficial by providing narrow, specific, and in-depth discussions on a related topic.  Multi-discipline conferences reflect a matrix of complimentary research interests and scholars with a common publishing goal.  These inclusive teams reach a wider audience through unbridled creative innovation.  National and international 21st century conferences help encourage co-author publication, increase educational leadership networks amongst a variety of disciplines, promotes a global culture of collaboration, and increases faculty recognition; thus increasing faculty’s competitive and professional value.  Make connections outside of your current circle and expand your scope of expertise by attending a multiple discipline conference.  Let me know how it helps you become more competitive in higher education.

12 Comments

Filed under Higher Education, Leadership

12 responses to “21st Century Conferences: Increasing Faculty Competitiveness

  1. Bill Sparkman

    I agree that multi-disciplinary collaboration is increasingly important in our complex society, but a scholar needs to make sure that she or he is well grounded in their own discipline in order to be able to make substantive contributions to a multi-disciplinary effort.

  2. I have not participated in a multidisciplinary conference, but I can see the potential for sparking creative ideas and unique collaborations. In the same way we have organized our universities into departments, discipline-based conferences help us focus– but may also keep us from thinking outside our traditional frameworks. Since becoming dean, I have been attending meetings and conferences outside of my personal area of educational scholarship (special education). Although these conferences are still within the field of education, they have helped me expand my thinking. As we move into an era of more permeable boundaries in content area learning, I can see where interdisciplinary thinking and working will become a valuable commodity for faculty competitiveness.

  3. C.L.E.M

    Excellent comments from Dr. Bonnici and Dr. Hyun on this topic – and from different areas of expertise. Collaborative intellectual efforts across disciplines expand fields of knowledge and understanding, and foster discussion, input and ideas, which lead to inclusion rather than exclusion of relevant theories, and the quality of comprehension leading to more reliable judgement, opinion and decision-making.

    • Dr. Bonnici and Dr. Hyun are educational leaders with a passion to research and instruct. Without the multidisciplinary conference, we would have missed out on the enlightening conversations we are having here at UNLV. Thanks for posting C.L.E.M.

  4. MaryAnn Demchak

    I echo some of the comments above — it is important to have a solid grounding in one’s own discipline in order to contribute effectively and efficiently to a broader multi-disciplinary effort. Without such a basis I do not think that one could participate meaningfully in a multi-disciplinary effort. I also think that multi-disciplinary efforts can only be beneficial to everyone involved. Collaborative efforts that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries can challenge everyone involved and can lead to greater effectiveness as well as to new ideas.

    • Incorporating an international dynamic to the multidisciplinary conference adds to the challenge you have mentioned. Trying to teach my research to others from different countries requires conscientious and sensitive communication. It is making me a better presenter. Thanks for posting MaryAnn.

  5. Zane Savin

    At the risk of sounding unoriginal, I too agree with Mr. Sparkman’s assertion: empathisizing the importance of a high level of expertise in ones field of discipline. I’ll spare you the endless analogies, but when I go to see my mechanic, I am not necessarily concerned with his knowledge of Russian literature. Nonetheless, the merits of multidisciplinary conferences and collaboration should be without question. I can imagine many instances where multidisciplinary conferences and collaborations can enhance ones expertise and worldview. Ultimately, my opinion in this matter is that one should endevour to continue their education with respect to their field of study (even post-doctorate [like MFTs in California do, for instance] professionals); and if it is germane to their profession, then by all means, multidisciplinary conferences, collaborations, and the like should be utilized and encouraged.

  6. Creo en la importancia de trabajar multidisciplinariamente y lo practico. Por ejemplo, actualmente investigo sobre el tema de “procesos” (asociado a la gestión de la calidad) donde considero necesario ir mas allá de la administración, hacia la física, la biología y los sistemas, entre otros. Esta idea surge de la necesidad de superar las limitaciones conceptuales y metodológicas que tiene este tema, el cual es implementado en las organizaciones de manera reduccionista, alejado de toda realidad cultural y práctica. Intento llegar a una propuesta que integre varias dimensiones de a vida humana en la organización, donde la iniciativa y la cooperación se constituyan en pilares del desempeño laboral.
    En junio 2012 fui aceptado en dos conferencias multidisciplinarias IJAS en Florencia y Praga, donde el Dr. Joseph Bonnici fue el coordinador, pero no recibí apoyo de mi universidad porque quienes deciden solo apoyan la participación en eventos altamente especializados (disciplinarios).
    Seguiré insistiendo en la importancia y necesidad del trabajo multidisciplinario.
    Gracias por su publicación,

    Profesor Óscar Arias, MSc
    Medellín, Colombia

  7. Permítame agregar que mi investigación es sobre el diseño de una metodología de gestión por procesos para instituciones de educación superior en Colombia.

    Profesor Óscar Arias , MSc

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