Our world faces many complex problems. Often, the most robust solutions are found through collaboration and understanding the problem from different perspectives. As such, Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences is an ideal place to start for any student hoping to make the world a better place.
For instance, one of the most important problems that needs addressing today is how to make a healthy diet more appealing to those whose good health depends on it. Lifestyle-related and dietary-related diseases (diabetes, CHD, obesity) contribute significantly to worldwide mortality and they are projected to rise in the coming decades.
Interdisciplinary education, such as that offered by Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences, will show that no single factor is singularly responsible, but rather a variety of factors which cut across conventional disciplinary boundaries.
If I were to approach this problem, I would need to gain understanding from a variety of areas:
- Biology and nutrition – To understand the biological underpinnings of our food preferences, as well as the effect of particular foods on the human body.
- Sociology – The food ‘culture’ in which one is socialised emerges as an important determinant of our food habits.
- Psychology – To understand motivation for purchasing certain foods.
- Marketing – How advertising and brand strategy, such as celebrity endorsements, increases the appeal of healthy foods.
- Economics, business, politics – To understand the ecology of our eating habits, ranging from sales strategies to government taxing of certain food items.
- History and anthropology – To find case studies to understand the impact of modifying each of the above factors.
- Statistics – A grounding in statistical and methodological research methods, qualitative and quantitative, will help support further research into this area.
Dr Mircea Scrob is a Teaching Fellow in Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences. His research interests are food studies, mixed research methods, the economic history of modern Eastern Europe, and the history of nutritional science in the 20th century.