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CONN 375: The Art & Science of Color

Interdisciplinary Inquiry

Your research question may invite analysis from more than one academic discipline. Yet what is an academic discipline?  Although definitions vary, most scholars agree that an academic discipline shares the following characteristics:

  • A specific focus of study;
  • A specific research methodology;
  • An accumulated body of knowledge that all practitioners share;
  • Theories or concepts that help organize the shared body of knowledge;
  • Specific vocabulary used to describe the shared knowledge;
  • Usually, the discipline is taught in colleges and universities;
  • New disciplines emerge when ruptures, disagreements, or new information can no longer be contained within the "old" discipline.

What do you think are the advantages of academic disciplines? Might there be any disadvantages?

Most academic disciplines have one or more subject databases that index and disseminate scholarly work within that discipline. It is impossible to understate how important it is to search disciplinary databases when doing research. (In the medical sciences, for example, failure to search the relevant databases prior to a clinical trial is malpractice and can result in severe federal sanctions.)

At Collins Library, the main subject databases for each academic discipline taught at the university can be found under the "Articles" page on each subject guide.

Start with an Idea

Concept maps are a tool to help you:

  • explore your topic;
  • discover possible lines of inquiry;
  • consider search terms;
  • brainstorm resources to investigate.

Ask yourself: what do I already know about my topic? what am I curious about? what kind of data do I need, and where am I likely to find that data?

From a disciplinary perspective, think about what kind of questions scholars and experts in that discipline are interested in, and how they would ask those questions or measure their findings.

Developing an Interdisciplinary Search Strategy

For the purposes of your final assignment in this class, you are asked to consider one or more of these possible themes, related to your color:

  • History of science/alchemy
  • Economics of color (could also be marketing)
  • Societal constructs of color
  • Psychology/marketing of color
  • Chemistry/pigments/dyes
  • Religious aspects of color
  • Art History/specific artists using color
  • Natural world/Biological ornamentation