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Interdisciplinary Studies at Andover

Plan for New Department Announced

On Monday, October 16, Head of School John Palfrey wrote to the Phillips Academy community with news that Andover will establish a new Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, with a chair and a seat on the Academic Council, effective no later than the fall of 2018. The decision follows a recommendation process led by the Interdisciplinary Working Group and builds upon previous recommendations from the Intellectual Inquiry Working Group and other colleagues.

“I extend my thanks and appreciation to David Fox and Cath Kemp, co-chairs, and all members of the working group; to Tasha Hawthorne, chair, and all members of the Intellectual Inquiry Working Group that predated this one; and to all who have weighed in on this important decision,” said Palfrey.

The working group’s efforts culminated in the presentation of a proposal and a recent faculty advisory vote, during which a majority voted in favor of the new department. Core elements of the proposal included:

  • The chair and department will initially situate themselves within the Tang Institute during a three-year period of incubation.  
  • After the third year of initial operations, Andover will review the role and place of the department to determine whether it will, as proposed, become a standalone department after that point, should all have gone well, or whether to adopt another structure moving forward.

The precise operations of the department will be determined during the incubation period, and an appointment process for a chair of the new department will get underway shortly. The chair will serve through the first three years of incubation, for a term of three + years initially. The Tang Institute will also communicate about how faculty may apply for Tang Fellowships that support interdisciplinary teaching in ways consistent with this proposal. Stay tuned for more information.