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“Cross-disciplinary” has become a buzzword in academia. Here we offer a student-based perspective on the benefits of cross-disciplinary discussion, based on our experience in New York University’s Graduate Forum. Founded ten years ago by Catharine Stimpson, then dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Science (GSAS), the forum brings together graduate students across the university to present their research to each other. This cross-disciplinary discussion has taught us to build bridges between fields and people. By describing how this experience has enriched our work, we hope to inspire other institutions to initiate similar programs.

Once a month, ten doctoral students from throughout NYU convene for dinner and a discussion that is facilitated by a student moderator, with assistance from the dean of GSAS and the assistant dean for academic and student life. In preparation for each meeting, a preselected member of the forum circulates background readings. At the meeting that member then makes an hour-long presentation; this is followed by discussion of both the presentation and the readings, with the goal of examining the connections between disciplines and considering how their approaches differ.

In what follows, we three alumnae of the forum show how cross-disciplinary exchange has shaped our research, teaching, and communication with colleagues. We attended the forum in different years, and we specialize in different fields: history, literature, and social work.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, volume 43, issue 2, in 2011, available online:


Taylor & Francis



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