Adi Burton: Learning is Interdisciplinary


As a recent graduate from the Interdisciplinary Studies Program (IDST), Adi Burton (BA ’12) strongly believes that learning spans across multiple disciplines.  This fall, she will be returning to UBC to pursue a Master’s degree through the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program.

“For years, I’ve been set on working in the field of international human rights, but there are many ways to learn about it and many ways that it could manifest in future career options,” said Adi. “IDST allows for the flexibility to explore a particular avenue of study that is not easily accomplished through a single department.”

In her first year at UBC, Adi fell in love with the collaborative nature of the Arts One Program. Inspired by her professors, she became interested in multiple subjects such as philosophy and political science.  However, when she needed to make a decision about her major in second year, Adi struggled to find a specialization that aligned perfectly with her interests and allowed her to explore a range of ideas offered at UBC.  Eventually she visited Arts Academic Advising, and the Interdisciplinary Studies Program was suggested as an option for her.

“IDST and Arts One enabled me to practice almost a philosophical conception of what my education should be.  It was an exploration of ideas, places, and cultures that were new to me, ,” said Adi. “To me, it is a civil responsibility and a major privilege to have the unique opportunity to discover them.”

Although the IDST undergraduate program offers more flexibility than other specializations, Adi emphasized that students need a guiding principle and specific learning goals in order to be successful.

“I would recommend IDST if you have a particular interest that cross over department boundaries or cannot be contained within one or two departments,” Adi said.

One way that Adi enhanced her university experience was by making connections with professors.

“There are a few professors who had a huge impact on me, and I wish that I had made an effort to connect with more,” Adi said. “They are awesome people who are teaching and involved on campus, and you don’t get to know them by just going to class and doing homework.”

Interdisciplinary learning also extended to Adi’s co-curricular activities with STAND UBC, an AMS club and chapter of a national organization dedicated to ending genocide and crimes against humanity that includes student membership across multiple faculties and departments.

“Because I focused on theory in many of my classes, STAND was a great way to look at applications of knowledge in a contemporary context,” said Adi. “The experience reinforced the importance of those kinds of studies to me and included me in a community of supportive people with similar interests or ideals.”

Currently, Adi works as a Marketing Communications and Media Manager for Arazy Group, a global firm in the medical device industry.  Her Arts degree sets her apart and elevates the skill set that she needs to be successful at her job.

“An Arts degree helps you develop the skills to read, write, think, and communicate your ideas, and that is crucial,” said Adi. “In my experience, most other things I learn on the job.”

Adi will complete her Master’s degree under the supervision of the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Medicine, researching ethical challenges faced by advocacy organizations and the methods with which they may identify and address those challenges.