Two Cents: Take the interdisciplinary path


Graphic by Valerie Wang

Leonardo Da Vinci is the prime example of a Renaissance Man, a master in multiple fields.

Dressed in a sapphire robe with a black paper “beard” taped to my face, I looked nothing like Leonardo Da Vinci. A few weeks earlier, my third-grade teacher told us to dress up as any historical figure we wanted.

I quickly discovered who I wanted to be: Leonardo Da Vinci.

He was the first polymath I encountered, the ideal Renaissance Man. Consequently, my nine-year-old self, very idealistic and a bit naive, wanted to be just like him. Though it sounds a bit cheesy, he influenced my desire to seek knowledge in all disciplines and achieve an interdisciplinary balance, to become a Da Vinci.

My obsession with Da Vinci led me to RM’s IB Program. It seemed like paradise to me: a place for people to explore their interests and grow in a multitude of fields.

But IB differed greatly from my expectations. Especially between STEM and humanities classes and activities, I noticed people tend to self-segregate into one of these two halves, declaring themselves as humanities enthusiasts or STEM fanatics.

To an extent, this makes sense. There’s no perceived benefit from being a jack-of-all-trades when you’ll only use a few for a future career. However, by pigeonholing yourself, you don’t experience the interdisciplinary focus that makes IB unique.

The world is not a black-and-white divide between the STEM and humanities—they overlap in a multitude of ways: you need strong writing skills to convey groundbreaking discoveries through research papers and robust quantitative reasoning skills to craft an argument using relevant data. Some disciplines, like computer animation and engineering ethics, transcend these labels further by combining components of each side.

There’s a diversity of fields within each category. STEM encompasses everything from genetics to cybersecurity, while humanities encompasses everything from literature to psychology. Even though one discipline might not interest you, the plethora of options almost certainly ensures something will catch your eye.

High school is a time to explore. You don’t need to know what interests you. An interdisciplinary approach encourages exploration, but you can’t utilize that if you limit yourself to a specific set of courses and activities. Exploring a new discipline creates new skills, a step closer to achieving your inner Da Vinci.