This semester has had a very positive impact on both my life and my education, mainly due to the fact that I changed majors over to interdisciplinary studies. It provided me with the freedom I needed to create a major that fit what I need in my life and allowing me to learn what I want to learn and find important. Overall there wasn’t many surprises with the layout of this course. However I was not expecting the focus on twitter as much. Even though I already had a twitter before starting this course and you would think that would put me at an advantage but it did not. I don’t consider that twitter to be very professional though I already do follow a lot of influencers, therefore I made a new one but didn’t tweet out as much as I probably should have. I thought this course would have a lot of writing and there was some but not as much as I expected. All in all I think this course fit the description and met my expectations.

Interdisciplinarity and my understanding and definition of it did not change much during the course of this semester. Switching my major with only two semesters left I found it important that I know what my major is to make such an important decision. I knew that interdisciplinary generally had to do with merging two or more different areas of study together. During the course of this semester my understanding of interdisciplinarity just got that much more reinforced. I don’t think it changed too much but just made things that much clearer to me. Seeing as I am already this far into my college education and had already been spending most of my spare time bringing political science, finance, health science, and computer science all together. Through reading or doing online courses provided by various open free resources such as the MIT Opencourse. So I had already been really accustomed to working in an interdisciplinary manor.

There was a lot of value added to some of the readings we went over during this semester. Gregorian had a good idea about the role of specialization plays in today’s society and education. Paul Cohen once said that people in one wing of an office building have no idea what people in another wing of the same building working for the same company are doing. That people have not become able to read more or take in more information but instead that so much more information is out there. I think today specialization plays a huge role in society and that to some degree people should focus on it today. However in the probable near future machine learning and artificial intelligence will play a huge role in ending this, as computers start to become less of tools and turn into something we can work alongside. Either way I enjoyed Gregorian’s view on dividing disciplines and thought it was a very thought provoking topic.

Academic freedom was another topic covered in most of the readings and in our own class discussion that kept getting reinforced. I think this relates really well when it comes to finance. You can read one book corporate finance book and you will have learned most of what you will ever need to learn about finance. It’s a lot of the same repetitive talk which is why finance is consider an art as well as a science. Being able to take this information and applying it to the real world isn’t as straight forward as it seems. Therefore academic freedom and some degree of specialization play a large role in someone studying finance to be successful. There is a reason the market is called efficient and that all actors in the market generally agree to the efficient market hypothesis and act rationally. To get an advantage people need to be informed on various broad or extremely specialized topics. This is where having academic freedom is essential. It allows you to learn and understand different industries, the way they do business, the way they operate, their products, and then you can use your understanding of finance to make good decisions. Even outside of finance academic freedom is key, it is hard for people to learn if they have no interest in the topic. Though I virtually had no interest in finance when I was younger it took forcing myself for almost a year reading textbooks outside of class to ever truly be interested in it. However that takes discipline and motivation and the ability for one to apply themselves which is a completely separate topic. Finding something you are passionate about and care about is probably the most important thing about education. Academic freedom gives a person the ability to find that something. Even if the work may be boring or hard now you have to be able to look past that and think about the benefit it will bring in the future. In my own personal experience I have found that if you do something enough you really do start to appreciate it.

The last idea I want to touch on during this course is the idea of complex problems. I wrote a post covering this topic in a way and I want to relate a little back to that. One disease I have studied over the past year or two is toxoplasmosis, toxoplasmosis is a rare parasitic disease that AIDS patients suffer. When HIV progresses into AIDS it makes patient’s immune systems that much more vulnerable to attack from infection or parasites. Toxoplasma Gondii is a small parasite that infects close to 30-50% of people globally, this parasite lays dormant for the most part and a healthy person will continue to live a long healthy life with this parasite inside of them. However when HIV progresses into AIDS patients are not healthy and often times die because of this parasite. So why and how is this exactly a complex problem? Well when you look at a company like Retrophin the only company that makes a drug to treat toxoplasmosis called Daraprim you will see it is a large effort by many different people of many different disciplines. Their old CEO Martin Shkreli studies finance, he works alongside biologists, chemists, engineers, computer scientist, and philosophers to make their drug. Biologists provide an understanding of the parasite, chemists come up with a formula of potential drug candidates, engineers and computer scientists test the efficacy results of these drugs to see if they really do have a benefit, engineers than ramp up this drug to be produced in mass quantities, and then scientist, philosophers, and whoever else in the health community then determine whether the drug is ethical. Not to mention the financing that comes from the business world which adds even more disciplines into the mix. Curing illnesses truly is a complex problem and a very important one to focus on. Interdisciplinarity clearly matters, as mentioned above so much goes into some of the hardest questions in the world today. It takes a combination of disciplines to answer these questions. Sometimes getting all the people together to solve these problems can be very hard or impossible and often times it takes people who study in an interdisciplinary manor to solve these problems.

My undergraduate education is very quickly coming to an end, it is hard to believe sometimes that it really has already been four years. That being said I am optimistic about the future, I like to believe I applied myself and have learned enough tools through my education to be successful in the near future hopefully at a banking institution. Aside from working during this summer I plan on creating and app and website using R that can be used to forecast future cash flows and produce net present values. I have no idea if there is actual money value to it, but to me personally it will add value to my education and what I have learned here. I believe a lot of people have great ideas when it comes to finance, investing, and just thinking about wealth in general. However they lack the right tools to make the best decisions and I think this could help, I know I plan on showing my friends this website because they have similar interests to me even though most of them do not study finance. As far as IDS goes here at Plymouth State I hope it continues to keep growing and that other schools would adopt a similar program. If schools don’t than Plymouth stands with an advantage as I know many students are interested in interdisciplinary studies. In the future people will most likely all be having a much more interdisciplinary approach to things and providing students with the necessary programs to do so is key.

One Comment

  • Robin DeRosa

    This is one of the more sophisticated conceptualizations of complex problems that I have seen come out of this intro class, and the way you look at that as applied to your own fields is very illuminating. And I really also loved your discussion of how you came to finance through a sort of autodidactic perseverance. I’ve enjoyed the rigor with which you approach your thinking, Sean, and I feel sure that you will have continued success as you complete your program and embark on your career. I look forward to sharing your work with future semesters of students as an example of how to apply the general theory we consider to specific academic scenarios within a particular IDS program. A pleasure to be working with you!

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