UBC Mix was a TLEF-funded initiative (2009/2010 through 2012/2013) that partnered instructors, students, and courses together to create an interdisciplinary atmosphere for better learning and understanding.
In 2009, a UBC student named Geoff Costeloe gave a TedX Terry Talk about his experience as a biology and political science double major. He explored the benefits of thinking about politics biologically and thinking about biology politically. UBC Mix was founded shortly thereafter with the understanding that the most salient and protracted global issues cannot be answered with mere disciplinary thinking: to become more sustainable, equal, safe and healthy, we need to think and work together.
The Mix Model
We’ve probably all had those moments where we paired two things together only to discover something new. Just think about how adding chili to chocolate can result in a delicious Mexican mole sauce. It’s not just a pairing; it’s a completely new creation! We wanted to cook up the same sort of new experiences with classes at UBC.
Why? By opening up our classroom activities to external elements, we can create new connections and foster an atmosphere of interdisciplinary dialogue. Furthermore, students can work together to better address the complex problems of our time. After all, isn’t that what university is really about?
How? That’s the best part. It’s up to Mix partners! From lecture swapping and guest speakers to designing integrated assignments and discussion sessions, Mixes are flexible partnerships that allow for fresh, applied, and creative interdisciplinary teaching and learning.
Mix offered two forms of support to Mix partners:
- Human resources: Student coordinators (see below) facilitated partnerships, acting as cross-campus “match-makers.” They helped Mix partners to design their Mixes, and collected and compiled student feedback. They also provided logistical assistance: booking classrooms, ordering food, and advertising events.
- Financial support: Mix offered seed funding for new Mixes and support for “ReMixes.” Mix partners submitted brief proposals for up to $500 funding. These funds were used for supplies, transportation, catering, honoraria, film licensing fees, and more. Many Mixes, however, do not need additional funds.
What’s Next for UBC Mix?
The Mix model can be taken up by any instructor enthusiastic about making his/her existing courses more interdisciplinary! Mix partnerships can develop to address a myriad of topics and take many forms. The first step is to find a partner!
As the Mix project ended, the Interdisciplinary Community of Practice formed to create time and space for instructors to connect across the disciplines. ICoP members meet regularly to explore, examine, and enhance their interdisciplinary teaching practice. We hope that more ‘Mixes’ can develop out of this community!
People and Partners
Joanne Fox (Michael Smith Laboratories) and Allen Sens (Political Science) co-lead the Mix project. Part of the Terry Project team, Joanne and Allen are passionate about interdisciplinary learning at Mix. Inspired by Geoff’s TedX Terry Talk, Joanne and Allen developed the project, emphasizing grassroots-level interdisciplinary partnerships and teaching. Their core idea was that interdisciplinary thinking can be fostered in UBC classrooms through flexible partnerships between instructors and their students across campus.
Students have worked with Mix to coordinate instructor partnerships, plan Mix events, and create networking opportunities for Mix partners. Natalie Baloy (Anthropology) served as Mix Coordinator from 2011-2013, facilitating over a dozen Mixes, planning “Mixer” networking events each term, and developing the Interdisciplinary Community of Practice with help from Joanne, Allen, staff at CTLT, and many enthusiastic Mix partners.
In the 2012-2013 academic year, Sam Fenn (History) and Brendan Clyde (Psychology) also helped to get students involved in UBC Mix, asking undergraduates to share their ideas and values around interdisciplinarity and to design student-led Mixes.
Other Mix student coordinators include Jonathan Strang (SLAIS), Claudia Goodine (Journalism), and Lydia Jones (CENES).