Preparing individuals to lead informed and fulfilling lives in dynamic knowledge societies requires that we nurture synthesizing minds. We must nurture individuals’ capacity to to knit together knowledge from vast and disparate sources into coherent wholes in order to address pressing issues of cultural and natural survival (Gardner 2006).  Synthesis is a fundamental human capacity. It manifests early in life, when children engage in symbolic play, create artistic compositions, or learn the rules of a new game. To a certain extent, we learn to synthesize rather effortlessly by participating in societies where analogies, rich visual representations, and simple systems are ubiquitous. Interdisciplinary synthesis, however, presents heightened cognitive demands and requires deliberate instruction. It implies the integration of knowledge and modes of thinking in two or more disciplines in search for better understanding. Understanding how individuals learn to integrate different forms of expertise to create a work of art, explain a multifaceted phenomenon, fashion a new technology or propose a sustainable environmental solution is essential if we are to cultivate this capacity among collegiate and pre-collegiate youth. What cognitive processes are central to interdisciplinary integration?  What kind of “knowing” is embodied in a historical monument, an explanation overfishing or a sustainable development policy?  On what basis can we discern the relative success of such form of integrative cognition? Ultimately, how can we design instruction to nurture potent forms of interdisciplinary integration?

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