Washington University in St. Louis announces the eighteenth year of Modeling Interdisciplinary Inquiry, a postdoctoral fellowship program endowed by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, designed to encourage interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching across the humanities and social sciences. A select group of newly qualified Ph.D.s enrich their training through this program that offers highly developed expectations of trans-disciplinary research and teaching.

The fellowship in Interdisciplinary Inquiry was established to build on several long-standing commitments at Washington University: to the conjoint study of literature and history; to interdisciplinary, but period-specific inquiry; to intellectual history; and to the study of interaction of politics and cultural activity.  The participants in these interdisciplinary activities came to feel the importance of enabling young scholars to supplement their doctoral training in a traditional discipline with sustained engagement with the theory, methods, and canons of inquiry of another discipline or disciplines.  Modeling Interdisciplinary Inquiry seeks to address the cultural and institutional nature of interdisciplinarity itself and to create conditions in which interdisciplinary approaches in the humanities and social sciences can more easily flourish both within and outside the departmental traditions of a research university.

The means to these ends are found in the framework of Modeling Interdisciplinary Inquiry with its mentorships, its seminar in Theory and Methods, the integration of postdoctoral fellows within our undergraduate curriculum, and the involvement of a Steering Committee of senior faculty drawn from across the humanities and social sciences who have shown commitment to interdisciplinary work. Thus, the two-year fellowship allows fellows to confirm their bona fides in an “aspirational” discipline, and to devise courses and pursue scholarship that models deep, answerable interdisciplinary engagement.

Modeling Interdisciplinary Inquiry brings together a cadre of scholars who are already making interdisciplinary forays, and whose experience with mentors at Washington University will sharpen their awareness of and their ability to contribute to real and substantial collaboration between humanists and social scientists at the undergraduate, graduate, and research levels. This postdoctoral program is not intended to produce more scholars for an already crowded marketplace but rather to produce practitioners for whom the kind of collegial collaboration that has been so productive in the sciences becomes an important addition to the traditional model of the single and often isolated scholar. At Washington University the humanities and social sciences faculty see this postdoctoral program as an important initiative and an exciting opportunity both for the university and for new scholars trained in and wishing to advance the conversation, the collegiality, and the modes of inquiry within and across disciplines that have become essential to the growth of the university and of the fields and modes of knowledge that the university takes as its domain.