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Interdisciplinary curricula provide students the opportunity to work with knowledge drawn from multiple disciplines. Following suit, interdisciplinary learning requires interaction of knowledge from different disciplines; integration of knowledge from different disciplines; and an overarching topic, theme, or problem that shapes the learning experience. Since the university curriculum is commonly structured by academic disciplines, and faculty are socialized to their respective disciplinary norms, interdisciplinarity is a complex endeavor for colleges and universities. These endeavors include developing interdisciplinary courses, sustaining interdisciplinary initiatives, and financing interdisciplinary programs. Given the multiple challenges facing 21st-century society, the question of interdisciplinarity is urgent. How knowledge is defined and disseminated; how and what students learn; and how higher education can be responsive to its external environment are crucial issues facing educators. Responding to these issues does not diminish the role of the discipline in education, but rather acknowledges that knowledge is unbounded and potential discoveries lie outside compartmentalized structures.

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This article analyzes the relationship between oral history and education in Brazil. First, it addresses changes in theoretical and methodological approaches in some disciplinary fields, a move that increasingly questions production based mainly on quantitative research and favors a renewal of qualitative research. In this context, qualitative research incorporated discussions of life histories and the subjects’ narratives as methods of collecting data. At the same time that shifts in sociology and history drew both disciplines together in research that used the biographical approach and oral reports, qualitative research on educational issues was becoming stronger in the field of education. Questioning routine forms of research in these various fields ended up addressing common themes of interest to all of them. Such an approach allowed for the introduction and development of oral history in Brazil as an interdisciplinary field in which questions flowed from one discipline to another, in which sociologists, anthropologists, historians, and educators took part. Oral history is understood as a methodological approach to research in which the researcher commits to the object of study, approaching it based on the oral reports of the subjects involved along with other written, iconographic, and material sources in order to understand the different representations of the subjects. Oral history brought fundamental changes in education: subjects were incorporated into the production of knowledge about the history of education, social relations in the educational field, the way of looking at the formative processes of educators, discussions regarding curricula aimed at diverse social groups, group cultures, among other aspects; the educational field was no longer analyzed mainly from an educational, pedagogical-methodological approach, but one based on the centrality of the subjects and their demands. This change in perspective, no longer only on the part of the State or supporting institutions, provided a link between school and non-school education, as well as in the processes of participation of social groups. It also encouraged the incorporation of diverse data sources and their preservation. New research topics were also taken up, which has had a strong influence on the process of training historians and educators. Educational issues have been at the fore from the first incursions of oral history in Brazil and, precisely because of the exchange being built, new research paths are now being developed.