Studies show that reaching beyond disciplinary boundaries can be an effective method for understanding complex research problems and enriching student learning. However, despite the increased attention given to interdisciplinary thinking in higher education, there is much that remains to be understood about the growing centrality of interdisciplinary practice and its assessment. This paper argues that a new, more robust conceptualization of nonsingular disciplinary thinking must be formulated around the philosophical foundation of synoptics. A critical point when this type of learning can take place is in reference services. The paper begins by outlining the emergence of interdisciplinary inquiry in higher education. After reviewing the literature on interdisciplinarity and noting the lack of scholarship concerning applied synoptics in current library literature, it discusses the ways is which synoptics establishes the foundation for a broader based understanding of knowledge that cultivates and encourages a polymathic perspective for the patron. The study concludes by describing how the concept of critical and integrative interdisciplinary thinking, rooted in the worldview philosophy of synoptics, can apply to the practice of reference services and inquiry-based transactions between the librarian and the learner.


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pp. 464-486
Launched on MUSE
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