IMPLEMENT THIS COURSE AT YOUR SCHOOL

 
Find a peer
 
After you have a basic idea of the cross-disciplinary content of your course, write a short abstract, read it, and then pursue peers in departments which you are not a member of. Approach them informally and ask if they would be interested in supporting the idea. This may take a number of meetings and total rewrite of your original concept. You may have to try several different people before the right mix clicks in.
 
The four phases of exposure, exploration, development and presentation were applied to the theme of robotics and theater in our courses. However, they could just as easily be applied to other advance subject matter such as art and biology, energy and environment, history and film, or any exotic combination of fields. Two crucial elements which must be present are 1) Interdisciplinary subject material 2) Extreme creativity. The first is necessary to create unusual combinations and provoke thought. The second is necessary to challenge the student to extreme effort of thought and project development. This produces productive stress during the middle of the project, which inevitably precedes a period of hard work, growing confidence, and development of talents and thought patterns which are a completely new and rewarding experience for most students. They learn to present themselves in a manner which will benefit them in job interviews and presentation in their jobs and careers. They develop self-confidence in exploring new areas.
 
Once you have chosen your subject matter, fold your own content into the four phases Establish a source list of readings and films, schedule assignments in reading, and proceed with the timetable appropriate to your calendar. Each phase should take roughly 25% of the course period. Be careful NOT to let the last phase slip below 25%, and do not let the first phase exceed 30% pf the course period. There is always a human tendency to delay the most difficult phase, but that is precisely the most valuable in this experience.
 
Coordinate with the administrators of your institutional curricula
 
You must have the wholehearted support of administrators and colleagues for this endeavor. Outline and document your objectives to support theirs, and give an enthusiastic presentation. Once you have their support, flesh out the content of the course and write a syllabus. Meet regularly with your academic team on a biweekly basis. It is particularly important, and usually challenging, to get interdepartmental cooperation. This requires going up the chain of command which inevitably leads to tight scheduling and potential turf conflicts. At the interdepartmental level, be brief in your presentations and do your homework by finding out what the needs and missions of departments with which you are not familiar. Be very careful not to push too hard at first, and listen, listen, listen. Often you can recruit overworked administrators by showing them that other schools are revitalizing their curricula with such programs. The NSF is a good source of information.
 

Surf the Web!

 
Use a search engine to find collaborative educational programs, and then refine the search with your content discipline interests. Many teams pursue exciting interdisciplinary work NOT using a course like ours. They are often eager to talk to people like you and support your activity.
 
Our History
 
Every institution is different; our development history will not be the same as yours, but here are some of the elements of ours which may help you pursue your own path. This course specialized from the NSF Gateway Coalition course titled „Design, Illusion and Realityš at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. The interdisciplines of Robotics and Theater arose from the collaboration of an artist, Adrianne Wortzel, and a roboticist, Carl Weiman. The first course was taught by Weiman, Wortzel and van der Heijden in the Fall of 1999 under the subtitle Robotic Visions and Theater. Of the seven students who completed the course, one was an art major, one an architecture major, and five were engineering majors. Wortzel and Weiman taught the course again in the Fall of 2000 under the subtitle Equally Avatar: Humans Machines and Virtual Beings. Of the seven students completing the course, two were art majors, one was architecture, one was stage technology, and three were engineers. The last time the course was taught was Fall 2001 by Weiman and Wortzel, under the same subtitle. Of the nine students graduating, two were art majors, and seven were engineers. The preponderance of engineers was partly an arti- of the fact that the course was offered under the engineering department.
 
The collaboration of Weiman and Wortzel led to a NSF DUE grant titled „Robotic Renaissance: Bridging Engineering, Art and Science via Web Roboticsš (Award #9980873). It also led to an interactive web-robotic exhibit at the Whitney Museum for American Art authored and directed by Adrianne Wortzel entitled Camouflage Town.