Increasing Focus on Interdisciplinary and International

Jackie KrasasLehigh’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) has long had strengths in interdisciplinary studies as well as an international outlook, with programs like Africana studies, sustainable development, global studies, and international relations.

Now the college is making those strengths official with a new position: associate dean of interdisciplinary programs and international initiatives, filled by Jackie Krasas, associate professor of sociology and anthropology.

“We have had an explosion of student and faculty interest and activity in both international programming and interdisciplinary research and teaching,” says Donald Hall, Herbert J. and Ann L. Siegel Dean of the college. “Indeed, the two have long been intertwined in our college, and now is the perfect time to make even more robust our commitment to those efforts through the creation of a new associate dean position.”

Krasas has a demonstrated passion for academic work that happens between traditional disciplines. For almost 10 years, she was the director of the college’s women, gender and sexuality studies program (WGSS), which includes faculty from fields as diverse as English, comparative and international education, and art, architecture and design.

“I have always been in interdisciplinary spaces in academia,” she explains. “I find them challenging and invigorating. Being the director of WGSS at Lehigh for almost 10 years has given me a lot of insight into challenges and potential for interdisciplinarity at Lehigh.”

She adds that interdisciplinary issues frequently intersect with the international—many programs in the college have international components and the CAS is working to increase its connections abroad.

Krasas has already begun working with the Office of International Affairs. She was part of a faculty delegation that traveled to India in January to explore opportunities for partnerships with academic institutions there.

“There are good reasons for both students and faculty to be more global in their reach,” she says. “First, we send our students out into a context in which international competency is absolutely necessary. Second, many faculty find their work enriched by working in a more international context either in collaborations with colleagues around the world or in terms of dissemination of their research findings.

“Finally, many contemporary issues, whether in the sciences, humanities, arts, or social sciences cannot be addressed in isolation, which means stretching beyond disciplines as well as beyond national boundaries.”