The University Record, November 9, 1998

Rackham seminars designed to chart new paths, create new partnerships

By Lynne Dumas
Graduate School

The Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies is accepting proposals for Rackham Interdisciplinary Seminars (RIS) for the 1999–2000 academic year. Senior faculty who are interested in the opportunity to team teach with someone with whom they might not ordinarily work, and who are excited about the possibility of exploring an interdisciplinary topic, are invited to submit proposals before Jan. 15.

Graduate School Dean Earl Lewis says the seminars “infuse the importance of interdisciplinarity throughout the University” and provide an opportunity for faculty and students to chart new interdisciplinary paths and create new intellectual partnerships. “We’re pleased to provide this opportunity for faculty to explore new interdisciplinary interests through our seminars.”

Each seminar is offered once and schools and colleges are compensated for the time faculty spend teaching the new courses.

Two seminars are slated for next term: “The Evolution of the Moral Passions,” taught by Profs. Randolf Neese, psychiatry, and Peter Railton, philosophy, and “Spatio-Temporal Complexity in Science and Engineering,” taught by Profs. Franco Nori, physics, and Robert Ziff, engineering. These courses are designed to attract students from various fields of study in an effort to spark new ideas, explore new topics and seed new interdisciplinary research projects.

Lewis anticipates that some of these courses will become recurrent offerings and hopes that some of the faculty teams will design hybrid courses at the graduate and undergraduate level, or develop new research possibilities together.

“If these goals are realized,” he adds, “we potentially countermand the structural, if not cultural, temptation to separate along disciplinary and school or college lines.”

To submit a proposal, obtain the necessary materials from the Graduate School Dean’s Office (Room 1004) or visit the Web (available Nov. 13) and follow the guidelines stated there. All proposals must be received by Jan. 15. For more information, contact Lynne Dumas at or on the Web at

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