April 2015

April 13, 2015

Child playing with shape toy.Anyone who has seen a baby or toddler playing with a toy like the one in the image knows at least two things: 1) that fitting shapes into holes can provide hours of entertainment, and 2) when things don’t fit, it can be incredibly frustrating. The same dynamic appears in the larger problems of the kind that university faculty address in their daily work. Sorting shapes can be a way for children to learn basic cognitive skills of categorization; these skills develop as we grow and learn new information, and they allow us to organize that knowledge so that it is useful.  

Such organization appears in the structure of universities around the world, as students learn and faculty work in departments often centered around distinct disciplines. As we continue to learn more about our...