The social sciences at the University of Chicago are renowned for their leadership in the development of empirical investigation in their respective disciplines. The postwar Chicago school of economics is only the best known of the efforts at that university to entrench specialized competencies in the faculty and students practicing a social scientific discipline. During the same period, the Committee on Social Thought emerged as an academic interdisciplinary unit in the humanities and social sciences. Ironically, the committee became the place in which one honed the competencies required for a particular type of interdisciplinarity.

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