Why Are Interdisciplinary Courses the Next Step in Education?
One of the benefits of pursuing an undergraduate degree in the US is that after your four years, you can gain a degree in two completely different fields by doing a double major. You may do this to be a better job applicant or to show that you can work twice as hard, and this is what I intend to do at Carnegie Mellon University.
When I tell people that I will be studying both, cognitive neuroscience and business and perhaps minoring in information systems, they often look confused. Cognitive neuroscience and business? What’s the connection? How will this help me later on? The simple answer is, because I love both areas in which I study.
John Grisham’s The King of Torts, along with my fission-ing interest in bio-cognitive-psychology led me to be extremely involved with my cousin’s epilepsy. With carefully selected biological and social treatment, his limbs gradually straightened. Seeing his recovery drove me to write a paper on brain plasticity. The potential applications were endless! Through my degree, I hope to study the applied social interaction of human decision making, how emotions affect human decisions and rational thinking, and how the brain understands and carries out specific functions.
On the other hand, Shark Tank and Celebrity Apprentice sparked my curiosity for business and entrepreneurship, so why study cognitive neuroscience? A majority of the contestants on Shark Tank are not business majors–they have pursued some other subject and have developed their idea based on the knowledge they have. Similarly, my cognitive neuroscience can help me develop an idea, while the business degree will help me make it a reality.
When it was time to apply to universities, I did apply to many business schools, and even though I got accepted, I decided not to confirm my admit at any of them. This is because when I thought about what I want to do in the next 30 years, I could only see myself as an entrepreneur, running my own business and helping other people with the products that I introduce. But I needed knowledge in another field to be able to make a product that I really thought would affect people’s lives.
So while I definitely do not see myself being employed in an accredited research facility or any career option that fits the cognitive neuroscience major, I hope to use my knowledge of the brain and its functions, combine it with the knowledge I acquire from my minor in information systems to run a business in the brain interface industry.
It may seem like a long shot, but I still believe that you can combine almost any two or three subjects together and they will definitely complement each other in some way. The important thing is to clearly define how they will interact, so that you have a clear image of what you are going to do and how they will help you.
Like Barry B. Benson philosophically questioned in the Bee Movie, “How can you be so sure that you want to study one thing for the rest of your life?” With this new trend in interdisciplinary education, you don’t need to be so sure, and you can end up having an upper hand over other people who only study one field.
Sanjana Jobalia is a guest blogger for The Red Pen and a freshman at Carnegie Mellon University, where she is studying cognitive neuroscience and business.