O’Rourke Named Interim Director of the Center for Interdisciplinarity

Professor of Philosophy Michael O’Rourke has been appointed Interim Director of the MSU Center for Interdisciplinarity, effective August 16, 2017. The two-year appointment runs through August 15, 2019.

As Interim Director of the Center for Interdisciplinarity, O’Rourke will lead the planning process to articulate and shape the strategic vision of this new center.

“Many universities emphasize the importance of interdisciplinary scholarship,” said Christopher P. Long, Dean of the College of Arts & Letters, “but here at MSU, we also focus on the way interdisciplinary work itself works so we can understand it more deeply and practice it more effectively. No one is better positioned than Professor O’Rourke to lead this signature new research center through its initial stages of development. I am thrilled that he has agreed to take on this leadership role.”

man  w/ glasses and suit sitting behind desk
Michael O'Rourke, Interim Director of the Center for Interdisciplinarity
 

Housed in the College of Arts & Letters and situated at the heart of the 21st century land-grant mission, the Center for Interdisciplinarity will advance interdisciplinary research and pedagogy at Michigan State University while preparing the next generation of citizen leaders to address the most challenging questions of our time.
 

No one is better positioned than Professor O’Rourke to lead this signature new research center through its initial stages of development. 

Dean Christopher P. Long

Interdisciplinarity is the theory and practice of combining two or more academic disciplines to address complex questions in a broader and more nuanced way than is possible from a single disciplinary perspective.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve the College and the Department of Philosophy in this role,” O’Rourke said. “MSU is a global leader in interdisciplinary programming. The Center will advance interdisciplinary scholarship by leveraging our great strengths in the arts and humanities.

“I believe that the Center can be an important contributor to interdisciplinary excellence on campus and an international catalyst for interdisciplinarity involving the arts and humanities. Over the next year, I look forward to facilitating an inclusive community process for developing a strategic vision that positions the Center to be both locally and globally influential.”

Given the interdisciplinary focus of his research, it is not surprising that Dr. O’Rourke himself has an interdisciplinary appointment at MSU, serving not only as a Professor in the Department of Philosophy, but also as a faculty member in both AgBioResearch and the Environmental Science and Policy Program.

I believe that the Center can be an important contributor to interdisciplinary excellence on campus and an international catalyst for interdisciplinarity involving the arts and humanities.

Professor Michael O'Rourke

O’Rourke is Director of the Toolbox Dialogue Initiative, a research initiative sponsored by the National Science Foundation that investigates philosophical approaches to facilitating interdisciplinary research.

For most of his career, he has engaged in interdisciplinary research, and he is currently pursuing an active research agenda that emphasizes the philosophy of interdisciplinarity. He has published extensively on the topics of communication, interdisciplinary theory and practice, and robotic agent design. His research has been funded by grants totaling more than $9 million.

In addition, Dr. O’Rourke has experience in developing interdisciplinary programming, having co-directed an annual interdisciplinary philosophy conference and an interdisciplinary colloquium series at the University of Idaho, each for more than a decade. He also co-directed an international conference on interdisciplinarity that led to the volume, Enhancing Communication & Collaboration in Interdisciplinary Research, published by Sage.

O’Rourke earned both his doctorate and master’s degrees in Philosophy from Stanford University. Before coming to MSU in 2012, he was a Professor at the University of Idaho for 16 years. He also taught at Kansas State University for two years and lectured at Stanford University for one year.