For academic strategic planning, we wish to describe how we will build the faculty of the future - which we are doing right now, for tenure-track faculty we hire today may very well be here in the year 2050 and beyond. We think the faculty of the future can be built by strengthening Davidson's interdisciplinary intersections built on the foundation of strong disciplines. Our interdisciplinarity strengths may be distinctive in the academy, particularly in the extent of faculty involvement across our relative small (compact) faculty; if so, it would be wonderful to be able to describe and portray this. I have long called our overall picture of extensive interdisciplinarity the Davidson interactome, which is the summation of all our interdisciplinary connections. Yet I have not yet found a way to depict this interactome using data visualization. Tabitha Peck and Fuji Lozada, with the help of students, have taken stabs at this a while back, but did not get far.
I propose that an innovation process would use existing data to create a visual and/or other means of portraying the Davidson interactome. Data that could be used and connected within the interactome include (over the past 1-5 years):
-Departments and programs/course prefixes/faculty membership, core membership, or affiliation in
- Departmental or program course prefixes of co-listed or cross-listed courses
- CIS majors mentored
- Interdisciplinary minors
- co-mentoring of student research projects
- faculty-faculty collaboration on research or curricular projects
This visualization and its interpretations could then be used to understand qualitative and quantitative aspects of our interconnections and perhaps to compare them to other institutions so that we can learn whether this is a (relatively) distinctive feature of Davidson. We can also use it to help us meet various challenges of staffing between and across many departments, programs, and curricula and areas of scholarly/creative pursuits.
Our faculty has long been quite interdisciplinary, and the extent of this across the faculty, departments, programs, and curriculum may be truly distinctive. But until we have an understanding and description of a complete picture of our own interdisciplinary interactions, we will not be able to discern whether this is truly distinctive, unusual, or quite common.