Are disciplines becoming less important? I think they are. Universities are gradually changing how they operate as disciplines become less central to the construction of knowledge.
Historically there are several universities that have tried different ways to organize their academics. In Britain, they include the University of Sussex, which for a long time divided itself into “Schools of Study,” so that students could benefit from a multidisciplinary teaching environment. In the United States, Arizona State University has done something similar with its degree programs.
But these kinds of large experiments with disciplinary mix are still comparatively rare. What has happened at most universities is something different: a slow shift in the gardening of knowledge, moving from strict formal borders to drifts. In this vein, five changes come to mind. <Read more.>
I can see this spreading to a degree, no pun intended.
However in some respects everything is so specialised now that interdisciplinary studying might be a good step as people are increasingly overly focused on one area and ignorant of others, meaning info doesn’t travel between faculties as easily or with great frequency.
I think the idea is similar to the notion that students need a liberal arts background. The college experience is a good thing for many; the diversity alone encourages growth among students. Add to this your knowledge of the classics and ability to critically think and pretty soon we are seeing productive citizens. I recall a time when many companies wanted to see a degree, any college degree on the resume. It wasn’t so much what you studied, just that you did study and you did survive the mechanics and intellectual rigor of college. That translated to the ability to be taught the things that the organization wanted you to learn. Let’s face it, we never stop learning.