Dr. Sandra Baroudi is an expert in leadership and management in Education, an international journals reviewer, lecturer, trainer, and research consultant, with extensive experience in academia in the United Arab Emirates. Dr. Baroudi holds a Ph.D. in Leadership, Management, and Policy in Education from the British University in Dubai, UAE. She is an Assistant Professor at the College of Interdisciplinary Studies- Zayed University, Dubai, UAE. She is the co-founder of Eduvate, an online professional development platform for teachers and educational leaders. Dr. Baroudi is a highly skilled trainer and curriculum designer in the field of leadership and policies and teaching and learning. She is a certified associate for the Blackboard academy and a Fellow for Advanced Higher Education. She was a fellow for the Education Endowment Foundation in the UK and the Queen Rania Foundation in Jordan where she led the contextualization of the Teaching and Learning Toolkit into the Arab world context. In her work, Dr. Baroudi seeks to provide evidence-based data and best practices for leaders and educators in the Arab world with the aim of supporting their decisions to promote innovative and quality education.
Building a sustainable future where equity and equality drive human behavior begins when we design curriculums that call for sustainability and nurture transferable and transversal skills in students. Today’s job markets and in-demand skills are vastly different from the ones of ten or even five years ago. Governments, businesses, and individuals alike are increasingly concerned with identifying and forecasting skills that are relevant not just today but will also remain or become so in the future to meet business demands. Hence, building a skill-based interdisciplinary curriculum that would offer students the opportunity to practice skills like problem-solving, creativity, and critical thinking, provides them with the opportunity to foster the attitudes and “soft skills” required to have productive members of society.
Scientists began to understand that some problems are too complex to be adequately treated by a single field of research and that other disciplines must be involved. The effects of climate change on society, the environment, and sustainable development are all clear examples. To investigate the causes and effects and creating solutions, necessitates the skills and resources from numerous disciplines, including the natural sciences, engineering, and social sciences. Furthermore, by examining and analyzing the dynamics of multidisciplinary research, the philosophy of science can help researchers avoid mistakes and strengthen the methodological foundation of their work. One example is that the American Medical Association has asked for telehealth to be made a core competency for medical students, recognizing that telemedicine and telehealth would play an increasingly important role in the delivery of health care. They do so while they are aware that despite patients’ interest in telehealth, research has shown that a major barrier to physicians practicing is a lack of education.
In a knowledge-based society, universities have evolved from being secondary to primary institutions for economic progress. Usually, basic skills are acquired throughout formal education and prior to starting to work; thus, there is currently an opportunity for businesses to be proactive in designing their own talent pipeline by collaborating with educators. Across various industries, one-third (nearly 36%) of all jobs focus on a core needed skill which is solving complex problems and this requires both creativity and adaptability. Moreover, social skills involving communication and emotional intelligence, cognitive abilities involving creativity and mathematical abilities, subject-specific skills, and critical thinking skills are all expected requirements for many industries across the job market. The growth of interdisciplinary education, research, and training has been a primary objective for many institutions’ programs and overall goals in recent years. The core component of the interdisciplinary approach to education is the focus that it displays on partnerships with the industry, the adoption of challenge-based programs, and work-based approaches. One strong example is the experiential approach using a project-based course with an interdisciplinary approach, collaboration between external entities and faculty, and engaging mentoring of students by faculty and external entities. This approach helped students build their cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal competencies.
Higher education’s “innovation engine” role stresses the long-term economic benefits of the institution’s societal engagement, such as raising the caliber of local labor, transferring technology to industry, and enhancing the allure of the local environment for entrepreneurs, the standard of local labor, transferring technology to the market, and making the area more appealing to entrepreneurs. The shift in higher education toward sustainability should promote interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary perspectives in addition to ethical conversations and reflections. For the past six decades, discussions of researchers and academics were mainly focused on technology and its integration into the education system. While technology placed a great value on the education sector and its impact on students’ performance and achievement, it raised many concerns, especially about equity. This was evident during COVID-19 when less fortunate students lost months if not years of education due to limited accessibility to electronic devices and internet connectivity. Hence, incorporating interdisciplinary education that enables students to gain knowledge and abilities in a variety of disciplines is one means to support policymakers’ efforts toward equity and inclusion. To understand this idea further, it is important to consider the knowledge, approaches, and perspectives from different disciplines that would support solving a certain problem or project and making inclusive decision-making. Doing so would provide an in-depth and complete understanding of the problem and potential (innovative) solutions. Furthermore, this interdisciplinary approach that values different perspectives and perceptions is encouraging critical thinking, analysis, and open discussions of equity and inclusion topics in interdisciplinary contexts which is strengthening the trust between students and educational institutions and between educational institutions and the industry.
Knowledge is not only produced at the university level, hence it is highly important to rethink the aim and sustainability of higher education institutions. The interdisciplinary approach to education is believed to help the achievement of this goal. However, it is important for policies and accreditations to be aligned with this goal and support these program changes in order to facilitate lifelong learning and make these programs relevant to the skill demands.