From crossing chromosomes to crossing curricula–a biomimetic analogy for cross-disciplinary engineering curriculum planning

Elina Kähkönen, Katja Hölttä-Otto*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Interdisciplinary engineering programs have many perceived benefits including developing broader skills and an ability to work with complex real-life problems. However, the development of interdisciplinary programs faces many challenges including how to balance breadth and depth, how to integrate interdisciplinary learning into existing studies and how to work across university structures. In the development work and in communicating interdisciplinarity, T-, Y- and Pi-shaped visualisations are often used. We develop an improved model by using biomimetic analogy from genetics to aid in interdisciplinary curriculum planning. We map analogies between how genes and chromosomes act in the evolution of species and how similar mechanisms can aid in evolving curricula. We identify threegenetic mechanisms to include interdisciplinarity in the curriculum: mutations as unplanned changes, DNA inserts as modular curriculum structures, and crossing chromosomes as cross-disciplinary programs. We use examples from two universities to detail how this analogy helps to reframe curriculum planning.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Journal of Engineering Education
Early online date14 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • analogical mapping
  • Analogue
  • biomimetic
  • curriculum
  • engineering education
  • interdisciplinary

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