Has someone more knowledgable than you ever started a conversation about something that you had no idea how to respond to? Probably not, because you’re all super smaht, but this has happened to me plenty of times.
When looking at instances like that, I could react in one of two ways: I could get frustrated and down on myself for not understanding what in the world this person is talking about; or I could try and ameliorate the situation by establishing some common ground.
I’ll back up, ask them to define terms that I’m unclear about, give me context, and then we can move forward. This tactic, as suggested by Repko, is “implicit in the concept of integration” in interdisciplinary studies (129). It’s what allows humans to have productive conversations with one another, and it’s what allows the integration of disciplines.
For example, take the two disciplines of natural sciences and education, both of which are integral parts of my degree. Each have their own “truths,” or norms, realities and centralized dogmas. In order to blend these, I need to be able to understand both disciplines’ truths, and they need to be recognized by one another in a sense in order to integrate well. Common ground is a foundation for more complex ideas to stand on. With no basis, nothing can grow, which is why it’s so important to build a strong platform for these disciplines to stand on and interact.
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