Below is a summary of the conversation from the #AskWhy Episode between Mindstone’s co-Founder & CEO, Joshua Wohle, and the London Interdisciplinary School's CEO, Ed Fidoe. You can listen to the episode here.
Ed Fidoe, CEO of the London Interdisciplinary School (LIS), and Joshua Wohle, CEO of Mindstone, engaged in a captivating conversation that shed light on the transformative nature of interdisciplinary education. In the first part of their discussion, Ed provided an overview of LIS and his belief in reorganising knowledge to tackle complex problems. He challenged the traditional disciplinary structure of universities, emphasising the need for innovative approaches in education.
Rethinking Knowledge Organisation
LIS, established in 2021, offers a Bachelor's of Arts and Sciences in interdisciplinary problem-solving and methods. Unlike traditional degrees, LIS focuses on complex problems rather than individual disciplines. Ed highlighted the importance of organising knowledge around these problems to equip students with the necessary skills and perspectives.
Prior to his role at LIS, Ed was part of the team that founded School 21, a free school in Stratford, East London. He emphasised the school's focus on project-based learning, communication skills, and wellbeing.
Ed Fidoe's Background and Perspectives
Ed's diverse background, including experiences in consulting, theatre production, and engineering, has shaped his perspective on education. Joshua delved into the conversation, expressing his admiration for LIS and discussing the challenges of innovation in the education sector. Ed shared his belief that many universities merely pay lip service to addressing global challenges, rather than taking concrete actions to reorganise knowledge and foster interdisciplinary learning.
Overcoming Challenges in Education Innovation
Ed revealed an intriguing insight into the origins of disciplines, tracing them back to the need for physical organisation in libraries. However, with the advent of the internet, knowledge is no longer bound by physical constraints. Ed argued that disciplines limit students' understanding and hinder their ability to tackle real-world complex problems effectively.
The Significance of Interdisciplinary Learning at LIS
The conversation then turned to the significance of interdisciplinary learning at LIS. Ed explained that the traditional model of studying a single discipline for three years does not align with many students' interests and aspirations. Additionally, he emphasised the importance of breaking down barriers between disciplines, promoting a holistic understanding of various subjects.
Interdisciplinary Learning and Global Challenges
Ed also highlighted the growing relevance of interdisciplinary learning in the face of complex global challenges. By nurturing a diverse set of skills and perspectives, LIS prepares students to contribute to solving problems such as sustainability and AI ethics. The school's approach involves teaching methods agnostic of specific problems, allowing students to gain essential skills and later apply them in interdisciplinary contexts.
Obtaining Degree Awarding Powers
The discussion touched upon LIS's journey to obtain degree awarding powers, a significant achievement in the education landscape. Ed shared the challenges they faced, including regulatory frameworks unaccustomed to startup universities. He highlighted the need for a shift in mindset and the importance of demonstrating the school's vision, curriculum, faculty, and student interest to obtain such recognition. He emphasises the importance of going slow and being patient when starting something big, as the process can often take longer than expected. He also highlights the significance of timing and aligning with political support to navigate the regulatory landscape effectively. When discussing the interdisciplinary approach to education, Ed challenges the notion that specialisation leads to depth and argues that traditional degrees often fail to provide true depth of knowledge. Instead, he advocates for complexity and problem-solving as key aspects of education, where students integrate different disciplines and apply their knowledge to real-world problems.
The Role of Technology in Education
Regarding technology, Ed acknowledges the role it plays in education, particularly in terms of changing how teaching and learning occur. He mentions the challenges of hybrid learning and the need to adapt to new technologies and platforms. He also recognises the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) to support learning and problem-solving but believes that there are certain aspects of human thinking and logical leaps that AI has yet to achieve.
Future Plans for LIS
Looking to the future, Ed envisions growth for his institution in London, focusing on bachelor's degrees as a formative stage for students. He also plans to expand internationally and develop alternative content, potentially challenging the traditional MBA model. Furthermore, he expresses his passion for addressing the housing crisis in the UK and highlights the need for discussions around this issue.
In conclusion, this conversation provides valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities of starting an education institution, the importance of interdisciplinary approaches, the impact of technology on learning, and the potential future directions for the institution. Ed's experiences and perspectives shed light on the evolving landscape of education and the need for innovative approaches to meet the demands of a rapidly changing world. This engaging conversation sets the stage for a deeper exploration of the transformative power of interdisciplinary education and the steps taken by LIS to revolutionise traditional learning models.