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Interdisciplinary Communities Across Schools

Interdisciplinary communities are the lifeblood of any great research university.  They give birth to new spheres of intellectual life, inspiring and enabling new directions of creativity and research while opening up new worlds of study for students. In the process they can help faculty and students reach their goals and potential while providing significant new opportunities university-wide for leadership and funding.  USC has long placed a major emphasis on interdisciplinary activity, with many notable successes, but impediments remain to the successful creation and maintenance of such enterprises.

To kickoff an exploration of how to improve the processes and infrastructure for building interdisciplinary communities at USC, the Academic Senate held a half-day session on this topic at its September planning retreat.  There were four presentations on nascent interdisciplinary communities at USC, two focused on broad-based technical communities – Computing (Paul Rosenbloom, Viterbi/ICT) and Biosciences (Scott Fraser, Dornsife/Keck/Viterbi) – and two concerned with the wicked problems of Homelessness (Brian Redline, Social Work/Keck) and Sustainability (Antonio Bento, Price).  Breakout groups considering what other such nascent communities there might be and what might be done to facilitate their creation and maintenance-in-general followed these presentations.  The Senate will continue to explore this topic through a new Task Force on Interdisciplinary Communities.

To inquire about participating in the task force, contact Rebecca Lonergan at

To see the presentations go to the Senate Retreat page.

To discuss go to our Facebook post.



Paul Rosenbloom
Academic Vice President of the Academic Senate
Professor of Computer Science, Viterbi School of Engineering
Director of Cognitive Architectures, Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT)