Interdisciplinarity in Global Mental Health

This little girl fell asleep in my arms at summer camp while in the Dominican Republiuc

Conversations Between Anthropology and Psychiatry: Drawing out the Best from Interdisciplinarity in Global Mental Health was an interesting article in which I found that discusses interdisciplinarity in action. Considering that the program that I have created for myself is partially made up of anthropological courses, I found this sort article to be applicable to be personally.

This article specifically discusses the importance of interdisciplinarity which discussing global health issues. Largely, this article is explaining how important it is for all people involved to keep an open mind about the way that things should be taken care of. As global health issues will be viewed from many different vantage points, possibly being biologically, culturally, politically, economically, and geographically. It is important that all perspectives consider all other perspectives valid, as each have slightly different trainings and different perspectives, they all have great perspectives. Viewing an issue from one perspective is limiting, and likely will leave out some critical points when it comes to solving the many problems in which the world faces today regarding health.

When attempting to solve the many health issues that we are facing around the world, anthropology is a perspective that may be unexpected, but is a valuable one. The anthropological perspective is one in which gets to know and understand the lives of the people who are being directly affected with these many issues. Instead of having a strictly biological perspective, for example, it will likely fill in many gaps. By having someone go into these smaller communities we can truly get to know what the lives of these locals are like. Once this information has been unveiled, it could become more clear as to not only what the best solution could be, but also what the causes of some of these problems are.

Overall this article allowed me to understand how an interdisciplinary, anthropological perspective can be applied to real life. Outside of the anthropological courses that I have taken for my major, I have limited exposure to what anthropologists do for work, it is was very engaging and applicable for me to be able to have a clear example of why the world needs interdisciplinary anthropologist like myself.


Buckton, Amanda R. “Conversations between anthropology and psychiatry: drawing out the best from interdisciplinarity in global mental health.” Australasian Psychiatry 23(6) (2015): n. pag. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.


Getting picked up at the airport after the month in the Dominican Republic

Flights. Something that most of us love to hate. Making life much more convenient, but can also be painful and scary. Flights are a prime example of what interdisciplinarity is. You don’t just appear in the sky, there are tons of details that go into flying that many people don’t even realize.

First of all, when you are on a plane, you are 40,000 FEET IN THE AIR. How is this possible? Science! Physics to be exact. It took humans a long time to figure this out, but there is tons of science and math that needs to be done in order to have people soaring through the sky.

And of course engeneering. Planes are not random parts put together, there are tons of planning that goes into them. And every single piece that is put on a plane, is put there for a reason. They are designed for safety, efficiency, and to some extent comfort. A plane is designed to try and allow people to land safely in the event of a crash, whether is be land or water. Efficiency of speed, money, comfort and design is important as well. And one of the least important factors is comfort. As anyone who has been on a flight can agree, flights have somewhat comfortable seats, but since they cannot recline very much, and since there is not much personal space, it is hard to be comfortable on a flight that is 5 or more hours long. But hey, as long as we get there in one piece.

Business. Flying people around the world is a huge business, and there is a large market. There is tons of advertising, price competition, sales, customer service, the list goes on and on. There are many employees behind the scenes that deal with the planning and logistics that customers don’t realize.

Another necessary discipline that airlines have is communications. An airport would be a disaster if there was not an efficient way for all different departments to be able to communicate with each other, as well as with the customers. Anyone that has ever been to an airport knows at first glance, it can be overwhelming. But once you are able to understand how everything comes together, is it not difficult at all to find the information that you are looking for.

Overall, it takes many different disciplines in order to successfully fly a group of people around the world. As customers, do not put much thought into how, or why everything works, we are only concerned with getting to our final destinations. Hopefully this does not make your next trip to the airport even more overwhelming than it ordinarily would be.

What the Heck is Anthropology?

Anthropology. What the heck is that? It is not a subject that is often taught to students in high school, so unless people have searched on their own, or were forced to take a course in college, they don’t know what it is. It is unfortunate, but considering the circumstances, it is understandable.

If you Google ‘what is anthropology?’ “the study of human societies and cultures and their development” is what pops up. Which is a short answer for such a diverse field. Anthropology is broken down into four main branches being cultural, biologically, linguistic and archaeology. Each sub field is asking their own sets of questions in order to explain what culture is for different societies throughout time. Anthropology uses observation and interviews to understand the culture of different groups of people. Using observation, participant observation, and ethnography human culture throughout time is being studied.

Here is an interesting YouTube video that has a more visual explanation:

A cultural anthropologist, which is what I am most interested in, does their research in a different way than other types of researchers may do theirs. An anthropologist does their research through interviews and ethnography, which is because they really want to get their information first hand from the people in the society that they are studying. Interviews are given to many different people to see how strong a certain aspect of culture is for a certain society. An example of this is asking how certain holidays are celebrated. If an anthropologist were to do some work in the United States and were to ask what happens on Halloween, most people would likely have a similar response. “People might decorate their front lawns or offices with scary themed decoration on the days and weeks before. Then on the day of, people dress up in any kind of costume imaginable. Children walk around town knocking on doors asking for candy, and adults throw costume parties.” Although some people may give slightly different answers, a majority of people would say something similar to what was written above.

Dom Mazzetti and Ronda Rousey on Bourbon Street on Halloween.

If an Anthropologist were to ask an American what happens on the 4th of July, they might get less consistent answers. Some people might say that they have a cookout with their family and friends, or go camping, go on a vacation, see fireworks, spend the day by a lake or pool.

Additionally, ethnography is when anthropologists participate in the the cultural events firsthand so that they can get a very in depth understanding of what is happening. Ethnography is when anthropologists participate in the culture that they are studying and log their experiences in a detailed journal.

Here at Plymouth State, our anthropology department has a variety of courses. Some of the professors background is largely in archaeology, so there are many archaeology courses offered. The courses teach the history, as well as the processes and strategies that archaeologists use on their digs.

I have chosen to study this field because it is fascinating. People are fascinating. This subject has allowed me to have a much clearer understanding of the world we live in.

If you are interested in learning some more specifics in the field of anthropology, then you can read below about a few sources and specific examples of the field.

Journals: This is a journal that is published by the American Anthropologist Association.

Scholars: Kim Fortun is an example of a current anthropologist,

Historical Figures: These are some of the most well know anthropologists throughout history.

Organizations: This is one of the more well know and reputable organizations for anthropology.

Majors: Anthropology, cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology.

Transdisciplinary organizations: The archaeological digs that Plymouth State students do at Canterbury Shaker Village are considered transdisciplinary because it is a subject area that is worked on outside of the classroom.


Cross-Cultural Marketing Studies

As I began thinking about what to write about for my college essay, the first thing I thought of was how big of an impact that my trip to the Dominican Republic just had on my life. At that time I had just returned from a month long trip to the DR, where I lived with a host family, taught English at a children’s summer camp, took leadership and Spanish classes, and spent a week site seeing. It was a life changing experience for a small town Vermont girl who had never been past New York State.  Those four short weeks taught more about life than I could have ever imagined. Even to this day, it is a rarity for me to not be somehow reminded of all of the lessons that it taught me.

Following my acceptance to Plymouth State, I needed to pick a major. Being unfamiliar with essentially every part of college, I selected a major simply based on where most of my interest laid. With my passion for understanding why humans are the way that they are, I knew that it was between Psychology and Sociology. Although psychology is a fascinating subject to me, I chose Sociology. I knew that the major had both sociology and anthropology components to it, which helps me understand why people do the things that they do, now and in the past. It also helps me to understand people here in the United States, as well as abroad. The first semester of my freshman year I felt that I had selected the right major. But as the year progressed and I started thinking of career plans, I began to reconsider if sociology truly was the best decision for me.

After reaching out to different professors throughout the year I had realized that what I was missing from my major was some of the skill sets that come along with some business classes. Later, I discovered all of the ins and out of the interdisciplinary major. I truly found the perfect major for myself.

Majoring in interdisciplinary studies will allow me to obtain all of the courses that I will need to satisfy all of my passions, as well as the necessary skill sets to have a successful career. I have designed my major to have a general theme of marketing, and anthropology, as well as courses in sociology, Spanish and Psychology. I am calling it Cross-Cultural Marketing Studies. Plymouth State does not offer a major that would allow me to take such a combination of marketing and humanities courses that are necessary to purse the type of career that I hope for.

With this degree, I intend on potentially working for a study abroad agency to help other students travel abroad so they can have experiences similar to the one that I had. I also would be able to work in a global education office at a college to help students get a valuable time abroad as well as earning credit with their classes. Another option that this major would allow for me to do purse is a variety of different administrative positions within a university. I genuinely enjoy assisting college students with gaining the valuable skills that college education provides. Overall, this major would certainly give me a world of opportunity.

In order to major in something that is as global as this one, I felt that it would be an important piece to include a foreign language. Having taken three years of Spanish in high school, the number of Spanish speaking countries in the world, and the number of Spanish speakers in the United States, it seemed more than relevant to continue with my Spanish language education. During my semester at The University of New Orleans, being in a place that is so richly made up of a diverse culture, taking 1020 Basic Spanish II only made sense to me. Upon completing that course, I wanted to put my Spanish language knowledge to the test. Following that semester I spent winterim in Salamanca Spain taking a 2 week long Spanish course, 2020 Intensive Intermediate. During my time there I also lived with a host family where I was able to improve my language skills. Both of these courses will give me the foundation of Spanish that I will need to be successful when working with Spanish speakers here in the United States, as well if I need to communicate with people from any Spanish speaking country.

I chose AN 2210 Cultural Anthropology to help me to have an overview of all cultures. To give myself a broader perspective of cultures that are vastly different from mine, I added AN3999 New Orleans Public Culture to. AN3400 Anthropology of Sub-Saharan Africa was also added to help me to have a more global sense of culture. Lastly, An 3999 Race and Nation in the Spanish Caribbean is another course that I chose to help me to better apply the Spanish courses that I have taken. I believe that these courses helped me to get insight on different customs and traditions that are used across the world.

To compliment the anthropology in my major, I have chosen two sociology courses. SO2220 Foundations of Sociology is another course in the humanities that I thought would be helpful in my major. It will help me to get a broad overview of how and why different types of people are who they are. To add to that, I also took SO3030 Social Psychology build upon my basic understanding of sociology and to give me some insight to the psychology of people as well.

A communications course that I think would be helpful is CM 3090 Technical Communication because in a field having so much to do with travel, it is imperative to be able to have clear writing skills. In which ever business setting that I end up being in, it will certainly be helpful being able to be able to help my company work through both the cultural challenges as well as any logistical concerns. In addition, this is also a TECO and WRCO class, which will satisfy the technology and writing component in my major.

To add to my Technical Communication course for TECO and WRCO, I have also chosen MA 1900 Statistical Literacy In Today’s Society to complete my QRCO. I believe that this course will be useful for me because having some statistics skills are helpful for evaluating reports in the media as well as other sociocultural concerns. Whether I am the one going on a big trip, or I am working with others who are preparing for travel, it will be important to understand all of the numbers that are being reported in all current events. This course will give me just enough basic statistical knowledge to be successful.

The final piece to my major is the marketing component. To help me start off, I thought it would be best to understand the groundwork of marketing strategies in BU 2450 Principles of Marketing. This will certainly help me get a leg up since it is likely that I will need to market the programs that I will be trying to convince people to take advantage of. To build off of that, I have also selected BU3340 Consumer Behavior to help me to better understand my target audience. On top of that, I have also added BU 3370 Branding and Marketing Communication to help me better understand how to make my company stand out from the rest. That is important to me because no matter what company I am working for, it is always important to understand how to set company a part from the rest.  Another course that is relevant to me is BU3480 Social Media Strategies, because this course will give me the tools that I will need in a field that is growing more dependent upon social media. With that being said, it is important that I am able to utilize this tool to better communicate with my better customers. Once I properly market whatever program that I am advising people to take advantage of, I will need to be sure that I have the skills to properly sell it to the person to ensure that they follow through with it. The last business course that I have chosen is BU3350 Event Marketing, which is where I will learn how to effectively market events to people. Having the ability to effectively market an event is more than relevant in the field of work that I am going into.

I feel that BU3460 Small Business/Entrepreneurship Marketing and Operations, and EC4444 Introduction to International Economics in Latin America are courses that are more pertinent to my overall program of study. International Economics in Latin America will help me to better understand the connection between the business world and the behaviors that people may have on a more global scale. Small Business/Entrepreneurship Marketing and Operations will help me to better understand the bigger picture of how a company markets to people. I want to add a 3 credit business internship to my major because having hands on experience in my field of study is advantageous when it comes to applying for job in my field. It also helps me to clearly see the connections between my academics and the field of work that I hope to go into.

In addition to the courses that I have listed above, I will also be taking IS 2222 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies to help me to better understand all aspects of interdisciplinary studies. Also, I as the end of my time here at Plymouth, I will also be taking IS 4444 Interdisciplinary Studies to complete my major by learning interdisciplinary research methods, applying my knowledge to real world situations and learning how to better market the major that I have created for myself.  Furthermore, with my remaining elective courses that I have, I intend to travel abroad to help me to have more insight into other cultures so I will be able to better assist people is the traveling abroad.

To conclude, the major that I have created will give me all of the knowledge and skills that will be essential for helping people to go abroad in all types of ways. As well as allowing me to choose classes that I find interesting, so I will thoroughly enjoy what I will be studying while being an undergrad. Since I have found a good combination of courses, from all different disciplines, and they have fallen under one topic being International Marketing Studies, the major seems to fit in perfectly with interdisciplinary studies. Overall, these courses will help me to integrate global understanding, travel and marketing that will allow me to contribute to the world of cross-cultural exchange.

After class in the Dominican Republic

Interview with Laura Tilghman

I have come to realize that Plymouth State does not have “the perfect major” for me. Although it is a fantastic school, over the past year and a half of exploration I have come to find that I need complete my college degree in something a little more unique. Interdisciplinary Studies seems to be the solution to my dilemma. I am creating a major of my own.

Upon entering the world of Interdisciplinary Studies this semester, I have realized that in order to fully understand this new educational sphere, I should understand different people’s thoughts on it. Many people are unfamiliar with the concept, so I need to be aware of how the rest of the world may be perceiving my degree. I decided to start with an interview with one of my current academic advisors, Laura Tilghman.

I started the interview off by having her tell me about the courses that she teaches at Plymouth, which are a combination of introductory anthropology courses as well as upper level cultural anthropology courses. However, this was not her area of study while she was getting her undergraduate degree at University of Vermont. While she was there, she received two degrees, one being a BA in Environmental Studies, and the other being a BS in Environmental Science. These two degrees sparked her interest for graduate school, where she started looking to study environmental anthropology. She however, ended up doing her doctoral research on migration. So realizing it or not, she had somewhat of an interdisciplinary studies degree herself.

Once I learned what her educational background was, I was curious as to what her current research entailed. She explained that she is still interested in migration but on a more local level, focused largely in New Hampshire. Additionally, she does small projects on public health. She also did some work for the Veterans Administration. She was using anthropological tools, qualitative research, to evaluate some of their programs around ending veteran homelessness.

Once I figured out her education and research, I was then curious to how she works with a variety of people, from scholars outside of anthropology as well as non-academics. We both agreed that many people do not fully understand what anthropology is, she understands that, and explains it in a way that is understood by many people, which she does by using straightforward terms. She also has to explain her perspective, and why she may have a different tactic than others.

Additionally, anthropology is a set of tools that are helpful to understand the world, that also help to not make judgement of different ways of doing things, and to understand others who are both similar and different from us. So overall, she is constantly aware that although people are not always familiar with what anthropology is, it is a useful set of tools that are relevant to many things.

I proceeded to ask her if she ever has to collaborate with other people. Being a cultural anthropologist, she mainly conducts research alone. This is partially because people get the most credit when they are the sole author for a publication, or if they are the sole person on a grant. Although, she does not often collaborate with others, the exception that she has in her work is when she works with a research assistant to translate language or assist her in other ways. Often she works with just one person, but for large research projects she has worked with up to 20 people to administer surveys to a large number of people in a short amount of time.

Then, I asked her what some of her thoughts are on Plymouth’s new project for incorporating majors in an innovative way. Her response was that it is a great idea, however putting it into action is what will likely be challenging. We both agreed that in the end it will likely be a great system for everyone.

It appears from our current knowledge about Plymouth’s upcoming transformation, the school is hoping to integrate as many aspects of student’s education as possible. How that will all be implicated is yet to be determined. One option for the school to do, is to try and take our current system and make that more integrated. So one direction that the school could go toward, is trying to turn the required general education courses for all students in all majors, into an even more interdisciplinary system.

During our discussion, we agreed that often times we will hear students complaining about general education courses. All the while I am building my college major based on the same principles as a general education system. We agrees that it is important for students to understand the purpose of these courses being to make someone a well-rounded person, so that they can have knowledge outside of their specific field. This seems like the whole point of the integrated system that Plymouth is hoping to become, but currently students are not understanding the relevance of the small variety of courses that they are required to take outside of their field now.

Continuing with our interdisciplinary topic, I was curious if she does any interdisciplinary work herself. Her quick answer was no, but she hesitated then said in she does a small amount of interdisciplinary work. As she is interested in migration, there are other social science department faculty members who are also interested in migration, but look at it from another perspective, such as from a historical or political science perspective. In the past, they worked in a more traditional way instead of an interdisciplinary way of doing things. Typically, they each did their own research, then came together to discuss what they have found. They are now working towards becoming more collaborative, but they are not quite there yet.

Following that, I asked her if she thinks if there are any specific courses that anthropology students should be taking outside of their major. Her response was, it depends on the student. Since anthropology has such a large range of topics, the answer truly depends on which direction the student wants to go in upon graduation. For example, if a student wants to go into physical anthropology then they should be taking more biology courses, or possibly some nursing courses. Whatever will help the student gain more relevant knowledge toward their field.

I then asked her if she thinks that all types of students should have a more interdisciplinary education, or if students should focus on their one area of study. Again, her response was that it depends on the student. Sometimes it is great for students to have a large set of varying skills, depending on what direction the students wants their education, or career to go in. Then again, some students want a more specific area of study for their undergraduate degree because you need that depth for a certain field. Sometimes that can be accomplished in an interdisciplinary degree, but for others it is best for them to focus on one specific area. Then she proceeded to say that this is exactly why the general education system is important, because for the students who want to focus on one specific areas, this allows them to also be able to step briefly outside of their field and learn about other things.

Overall, it was an interesting conversation that I had with Laura. It was intriguing to see a new perspective on the interdisciplinary studies route of education. I will be sure to keep our conversation in mind as I continue through my new experience of Interdisciplinary Studies at Plymouth State.


Laura Tilghman

First Post

Overall, these three articles seems to sum up my first impressions of Interdisciplinary Studies. The first article, “Colleges Must Reconstruct the Unity of Knowledge,“ really represents the importance of gaining a variety of skills when going to college in order to be better prepared for the real world upon graduation. In “real world” jobs, it is important to have the skills and knowledge that has been learned within the major, as well as communication, writing and psychology just to name a few. It seems to me that it is more important for people to have a variety of skills and knowledge that to be limited to one specific area of study.

CC BY-NC-ND Richard Lee

In the second and third article, The Web We Need to Give Students,and “Do I Own My Domain if You Grade It?” it explains some of the pros and cons to having students own their work and having it be on the internet. It touches upon my concerns about privacy and the fear of being publicly embarrassed if work that students are not proud of is published. This would also allow students the potential to better market themselves for whatever they need to do.

Overall these articles give great insight to the benefits and controversial topics within interdisciplinary studies. They were thought provoking for someone who is about to dive into this innovative area of study.