Interdisciplinary Teaching at RWTH Aachen University – Project “Leonardo”

Conference: The European Conference on Education (ECE2021)
Title: Interdisciplinary Teaching at RWTH Aachen University – Project “Leonardo”
Stream: Interdisciplinary, Multidisciplinary & Transdisciplinary Education
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
Ann-Kristin Winkens, RWTH Aachen University, Germany
Stefan Böschen, RWTH Aachen University, Germany
Carmen Leicht-Scholten, RWTH Aachen University, Germany


Interdisciplinary teaching is becoming increasingly important, especially at universities with a strong technical focus. With regards to addressing global challenges, the interdisciplinary training of scientists is seen as a key feature of academic education. Scientists educated this way – t-shaped scientists – are regarded as able to inspire problem-solving processes by combining different disciplinary views on the strong fundament of one discipline. In order to promote this exchange and to enable students to participate in shaping the society in the sense of shaping competence, the interdisciplinary teaching project "Leonardo" was launched in 2008. A central characteristic of "Leonardo" is that lecturers from different epistemic cultures offer joined courses focusing on global challenges, which are directed at students from all faculties. The goal is to discuss a guiding theme in an interdisciplinary perspective and to bring together both students and lecturers from different disciplines. However, the question arises whether this approach succeeds in reaching the goal of t-shaping scientists. Against this background, three selected courses, namely "Sustainable Development Goals", "Resource Policy" and "Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Technology and Society", will be analysed while the following research question is in focus: What are opportunities and challenges of interdisciplinary teaching, especially regarding the t-shaping focus? This question is answered by re-analysing the evaluations of the courses as well as the critical reflection papers of the students. Further questions are: How do students reflect on interdisciplinary teaching? How can global challenges be taught in an interdisciplinary way and do students contextualize these challenges in their exams?

Virtual Presentation

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