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Disciplinary isolation has facilitated health education, public health, and physical education professionals to sometimes pursue common goals without the benefit of interdisciplinary collaboration and perspectives. Recognizing the potential benefits of interdisciplinary collaboration efforts to solve complex problems, faculty members at the University of West Florida developed an innovative doctoral program combining the disciplines of physical education, health education, and health promotion. Beginning with the salient common ground of issues related to engagement in physical activity, the program is designed to explore, compare, and contrast best practices in research and practice from each discipline. Benefits include synergistic solutions to common problems, graduates who transcend traditional professional silos to be more impactful, and the creation of innovative research endeavors. Graduates also find that they meet contemporary workforce needs outside of academia and are more marketable as faculty in kinesiology and health-related departments because of their rich, multidisciplinary knowledge base. Challenges to program implementation include prior student socialization from traditional studies in their disciplines and faculty working to move beyond their professional comfort zones to collaboratively mentor students in the program.
Todorovich, Drost, Bridges, and Wirth are with the University of West Florida, Pensacola, FL.