Higher Education

, Volume 62, Issue 6, pp 741–755 | Cite as

Student socialization in interdisciplinary doctoral education

  • Daniel Boden
  • Maura Borrego
  • Lynita K. Newswander


Interdisciplinary approaches are often seen as necessary for attacking the most critical challenges facing the world today, and doctoral students and their training programs are recognized as central to increasing interdisciplinary research capacity. However, the traditional culture and organization of higher education are ill-equipped to facilitate interdisciplinary work. This study employs a lens of socialization to study the process through which students learn the norms, values, and culture of both traditional disciplines and integrated knowledge production. It concludes that many of the processes of socialization are similar, but that special attention should be paid to overcoming organizational barriers to interdisciplinarity related to policies, space, engagement with future employers, and open discussion of the politics of interdisciplinarity.


Interdisciplinary Doctoral education Graduate education Socialization 



The authors wish to thank the U.S. National Science Foundation for supporting this work through grant numbers EEC-0643107 and EEC-0648439. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the National Science Foundation. We are grateful to our participants for taking the time to talk with us and confirm our interpretations, and to Susan Gardner and anonymous peer reviewers for constructive feedback.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Boden
    • 1
  • Maura Borrego
    • 1
  • Lynita K. Newswander
    • 2
  1. 1.Virginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.University of South DakotaVermillionUSA

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