The Learning Sciences: Brand or Big Tent?

September 27, 2010

The aims of the Learning Sciences (LS) are to understand the nature of learning from a broad range of perspectives, and to shape the ways that learning environments and resources are designed and used. LS incorporates a systemic approach to investigating questions about learning, as a complement to the elemental approach emphasized in cognitive science research. Its greatest potential lies in the integration of systemic and elemental perspectives. As more graduate programs self-identify as Learning Sciences (LS), Mitchell Nathan and colleagues are asking several questions: Does LS have a common core? Should it? What does that mean for LS graduate programs? How does one manage the tensions within interdisciplinary education? What are the trade-offs between adherence to a common core (maintaining an LS “brand”) or a broadly inclusive model (“big tent”)? More about the Learning Sciences program at UW-Madison is available here.