Interdisciplinary education leads to increased earnings

“Greater exposure to interdisciplinarity—especially for science majors—is associated with increased earnings after college graduation.” This is one of the conclusions of an article on interdisciplinary education by Han et al in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published in 2023.

IMSE students graduating in 2019.

Great news for MRes students at IMSE! Of course we at IMSE have argued for years that interdisciplinary education is good because it’s a better way of thinking about the world. And that it is more likely to deliver solutions to wicked problems. But here’s evidence that it benefits our students economically as well. (In the near term at least: the paper measured outcomes only 1 year post graduation.)

Griffin Gui in an IMSE seminar during his MRes studies.

On a more strategic note, the article notes that universities often say they deliver more interdisciplinary education than they do. The evidence comes from comparing course outlines to course syllabi. I wonder how we at Imperial College London score here?

This picks up on some really interesting discussions about interdisciplinary work I had at the Day of Doubt conference at Imperial in September. I co-chaired a session with Alyssa Gilbert, of the Grantham Centre for Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London. We didn’t talk about money…. We talked about how difficult it often is (at least in universities in the UK) to get interdisciplinary work organised, started, funded, and how to build a career on it. There were some great discussions with researchers, research funders and people from the consulting world.

Project assessment day in 2022 with Koon Yang Lee, then MRes co-director.

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