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ATK Week Two: Issues - History

This week I began to learn why the history and emergence of disciplines are the first issue in interdisciplinary studies.

During the lecture I understood that discipline (a branch of learning, field of study/ a subject) forms from a desire to categorise. Due to paradigms, schemas, threshold concepts, examples and non-examples and the differences in language, disciplines have formed. In addition, from the emergence of new fields of research and professions, we have formed new disciplines.

However, it is these characteristics themselves which cause issues in interdisciplinary study. For example, there may be tensions in prioritising knowledge as opposed to action e.g. in developmental studies vs. post-colonial studies.

In summary, the lecture presented how our disciplines each come with their own lexicon, paradigms, schema and threshold concepts - which therefore present issues in interdisciplinary study.

After discussing when disciplines themselves arose in our seminar, I researched one of my primary disciplines - Biology. Described as the study of life and a natural science, there are many subdivisions within the field of Biology.

Modern biology as we know it arrived arose as an idea in the 19th Century, yet emerged from traditional medicine and natural philosophy.

During the seminar, we seemed to agree that the emergence of a discipline was defined by when it was first studied in educational institutions such as a University. However, after research into the discipline of Biology, it is difficult to pinpoint this, and therefore the start of the discipline, as sciences related to the field of modern biology have been studied for centuries - such as the fields of natural philosophy (studied in ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia), medicine (can be traced back to prehistoric routes) and botany (dated to 10,000 years ago).

Despite this, if we research the foundations of modern biology (discoveries which tie all biological disciplines together) we can assume that the start of the discipline of Biology as we know it was when the last foundation was discovered. These foundations include; cell theory, evolution, genetics, homeostasis and energy.

The last of these foundations to be discovered was homeostasis. The theory of regulation of an internal environment was first made by Claude Bernard in 1865 - whereas the term, 'homeostasis' was created by Walter Bradford Cannon in 1926.

We can therefore argue that the emergence of the discipline of modern Biology was during the period of 1865-1926.