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How can we adapt curricula to equip graduates for a world with AI?

In this article, Dr Charlotte Haberstroh analyses the role of interdisciplinary learning to equip students for job roles that are being altered by AI.
In the previous step, you discovered evidence-informed career education advice to support effective and inclusive career development in a rapidly changing employment landscape. In this step, to complete this activity, you will reflect on the value of interdisciplinary learning in a higher education setting to prepare learners for an AI-driven world.
“Education is no longer just about teaching students something but about helping them develop a reliable compass and the tools to confidently navigate through an increasingly complex, volatile and uncertain world.” [1]

Preparing for this course, I was reminded of this quote from a publication on ‘Big Picture Thinking’ by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2022. When we think about generative AI, and indeed AI systems more broadly and their rapid change and ethical implications, it is increasingly challenging for stakeholders and regulators to catch up, trying to grasp the possible present and future effects of rapid technological change on society more broadly.

Our students’ present and future responsibilities – in their personal lives, as citizens and in the workplace – will be interwoven, in one form or another, with the developments of AI systems.

Of course, what this means concretely will vary starkly between study programmes, professions and employment sectors, and curricula are being adapted accordingly. In all this diversity, recent ethics and legal research on AI governance has identified one core common thread: we need a multistakeholder approach, where technology experts collaborate with disciplinary experts, depending on the problem at stake.

The capacity to communicate across disciplines and look at problems with an interdisciplinary approach is vital to bridge the gaps in trust that might emerge between AI system developers and, for example, workers whose daily life is disrupted by the technology. The graduate citizen of the future of any study programme thus has a lot to gain from developing those interdisciplinary communication skills and being exposed to multistakeholder approaches in their time in higher education.

In the remainder of this article, you will be able to get a glimpse of what we know about what works in interdisciplinary learning and some practical tips to implement this in your own practice as a learner or educator.

Interdisciplinary learning

In the research world, there are multiple definitions of interdisciplinarity and the same is true for the concept of ‘interdisciplinary learning’. The main idea we want to focus on here is that learners construct new understandings of a problem by integrating knowledge from different disciplines [2]. Indeed, integration – the ability to draw connections between different learning experiences – is recognised as a vector for significant learning in the education literature (eg Fink 2013 [3]).

Interdisciplinary learning is challenging:

  • The incentive structure for university faculty does not work in favour of strengthening interdisciplinary research.
  • Interdisciplinary learning needs to be rooted in strong disciplinary knowledge.
  • Some of the pedagogical approaches that aim to facilitate interdisciplinary learning, such as problem-based learning, come with challenges of their own, as their success relies on students’ capacity to navigate complex problems and work in teams, and educators’ competencies and capacity to support students effectively on this journey [2].

Whilst ‘thinking big’ (eg designing interdisciplinary curricula, developing and delivering problem-based learning activities) is of course to be encouraged, not everyone has the capacity to do so. In the meantime, small steps can mean big leaps for students as they prepare themselves to effectively solve the interdisciplinary problems of the future.

Practical tips for implementing interdisciplinary learning

For educators, one first step could be to review your practice regarding the points listed below and where this could be enhanced.

For learners, you can use the points below as a self-assessment of how you seek to connect what you learn to other contexts and seek out opportunities to develop your own interdisciplinary communication skills within or outside the classroom.

Practical tips

  • Developing capabilities for team learning.
  • Providing real-world context to your content, including opportunities for field trips or external speakers.
  • Reviewing the learning outcomes of a course and the extent to which they include opportunities for learners to draw connections between topics or with real-world examples.
  • Activities which allow students to develop, and later apply, their critical thinking and self-directed learning skills.

What is problem-based learning?

Problem-based learning is a pedagogical approach rooted in the principle of active learning, which confronts students with complex real-life problems. Students work on these problems in small groups and define what they know and what they need to learn to tackle the problems. Problem-based learning develops self-directed learning skills and collaboration skills. The lecturer or tutor takes on the role of facilitator, providing guidance and feedback to accompany students on their learning journey.

Three women beside a table looking at a laptop

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

Now that you have completed this step, you have reviewed approaches to enhance your interdisciplinary teaching and learning skills. You have also completed this final activity, in which you explored how generative AI influences the employment landscape generally and in your discipline, including the debate on the future of work and the proficiencies required in new and traditional job roles.

Now that you have completed this activity, don’t forget to add some notes to your reflective log, which you can download from Step 1.1.

In the next step, you will reflect on the themes of this week and share some insights from your reflective log.


  1. Boix-Mansilla V, Schleicher A. Big picture thinking: how to educate the whole person for an interconnected world. OECD. 2022. (6).
  2. Stentoft D. From saying to doing interdisciplinary learning: Is problem-based learning the answer? Active Learning in Higher Education, 18(1), 2017. (51–61).
  3. Dee Fink L. Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated; 2013.
© King’s College London
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