Why Nexus Learning Matters in Today’s Market

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently cited a study by Stephen Tepper of Vanderbilt University entitled “Double Majors: Influences, Identities and Impacts.”

Dr. Tepper finds that students with double majors are more creative thinkers and report more opportunities to integrate knowledge between their course work. They show better ability to integrate across disciplines and to apply both fields of study to their course load and projects.

Only 9% of American college and university students seek double majors.

They also report doing so without much support from faculty in their fields.

At Philadelphia University, our Kanbar College DEC curriculum is intentionally integrated, not just across two disciplines, but across multiple fields. It is transdisciplinary.

Roger Martin, one of the leading scholars and speakers on the need for transformation in higher education, recently spoke at PhilaU. In his comments, he pointed out the inconsistency of making the world of academics and education so different from the real one our students will live and work in.

The DEC curriculum, and the Nexus Learning happening in PhilaU’s classrooms and studios, teaches just this kind of transdisciplinary thinking, or design thinking. In Martin’s words, it “more closely imitates professional life.”

This sets PhilaU students apart professionally, and positions them as leaders of the 21st Century.

Our faculty and staff have worked diligently on curriculum reforms, innovative styles of teaching, and our unique brand of Nexus Learning so that we are leading this change in the academic community.

Ron Kander, Executive Dean of the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, likes to quote Socrates in explaining the root for this educational shift and the need for Nexus Learning: “Education is not the filling of a vessel, it is the kindling of a flame.”

He’s right. If our students leave here with a set amount of knowledge, we have failed them. Our faculty and staff are dedicated to students who understand how to learn, and how to apply their skills and crafts in a variety of fields because that is how they have gained them – in a transdisciplinary setting. This learning equips them to be creative thinkers who contribute value to the marketplace and are attractive and appealing to employers.

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