Professor to teach in three fields in new interdisciplinary approach

Professor Raechel Tiffe is scheduled to break new academic ground for Merrimack College when she begins teaching in three departments in the School of Liberal Arts this fall.

Tiffe, who has taught for two years in the Communication Arts and Sciences Department, will begin teaching in the social justice and women and gender studies programs as well.

Her teaching will illustrate the nature of interdisciplinary work by showing the interconnectedness of many academic subjects. Tiffe has already taught a course on gender and communication at Merrimack, examining how gender can have a profound affect on communication.

 “I think the value is to our students who will better understand the connection between disciplines,” said Liberal Arts Dean Kathleen Tiemann. “No academic pursuit is in a field by itself.”

Associate Dean of Liberal Arts Deborah Burns, former chair of communications, has seen the beneficial effects interdisciplinary learning can have in the classroom. When Burns discusses philosophy or psychology in her writing theory class, students see how one academic subject often informs another.

Burns said she believes students’ educations are enhanced when teachers can show how academic fields are connected.

 “I think they are always surprised when they see something connected to what they learned” in another discipline, Burns said.

Interdisciplinary connections help prepare students for the workforce where they will meet coworkers with expertise in various disciplines and backgrounds, Tiemann said.

Tiffe’s experience makes her a perfect choice for the new position. She’s an accomplished scholar who has made many media appearances, and has published many articles in all three areas.

“Her areas of expertise cross so many disciplines, but her strength is in these three areas in particular,” Tiemann said. 


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