Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is this an interdisciplinary program?
Yes and no. First, it’s important to note that students in this program are taught to inquire into problems from a variety of perspectives, traditions, and disciplines—which is one form of interdisciplinary work. But students are also encouraged to transcend traditional disciplines as well. Since the Integrated Studies program is built around inquiry, students confront the basic, enduring questions that relate to what it means to be human. Any attempt to answer such questions from one discipline, tradition, or perspective is inherently one-sided. Integrating a variety of points of view and perspectives, students are taught to think and see with greater depth and complexity.
2. What is so “integrated” about Integrated Studies?
The program is integrated in a number of ways:
- Students are introduced to interdisciplinary work through a series of Integrating Seminars that introduce students to the nature of inquiry. In these courses, students are asked to investigate fundamental questions from a variety of disciplines, traditions, and points of view. The first seminar, Foundations of Integrated Studies, introduces students to the program. In Integrated studies Seminar I and II, students are exposed to advanced work integrating various disciplines.
- All students are required to take a four-course sequence known as “The Dialogues.” These student-centered courses are typically overseen by two professors who facilitate discussion on seminal cultural works that have shaped the way people understand the world. There are no lectures in these seminars, since students are expected to be in conversation with each other, with the books themselves, and with the larger cultural “conversations” that the works originate.
- Finally, students must complete work in a primary emphasis, or concentration, as well as take an additional nine hours of coursework from other concentrations.
3. What do you mean by an emphasis?
Every student in the program must enroll in one of three concentrations, referred to as emphases. Students are required to enroll in courses from the other two emphases as well. Each emphasis asks basic questions about the human being from a different perspective, tradition, and point of view.
A large part of the mission of this program is to help reveal the humanistic aspect of a variety of fields in the liberal arts and social sciences.
4. How are the texts chosen in the Dialogue courses? And why should students be interested in the work of dead, white men who have become largely irrelevant in the post-modern world?
Since the Dialogues explore seminal texts from the past, some of the books have certainly been written by so-called ‘dead, white males.’ We have also made every effort to include a variety of texts from different cultures around the world. We use texts that fuel the most interesting conversations. Looking at seminal texts helps us ask some of the most important questions we can ask. Reading these texts also helps students explore the dysfunction and dis-ease of the culture we live in today. In the near future, we also hope to inaugurate a new class that will look at alternative voices from authors who had an important impact on the 20th century. Many of these voices—coming out of the perspectives of feminism, post-colonialism, post-modernism, and ethnic studies—profoundly changed the way we view the world by calling into question the dominant voices of the past.
5. What can I do with an Integrated Studies degree?
That’s up to you. Unlike programs that produce specialists, the Integrated Studies degree provides a solid foundation that can lead to a variety of opportunities. In today’s world, where you can expect to change careers several times in a lifetime, such a foundation is more important than ever.
A liberal arts education such as Integrated Studies most typically leads to careers in management, business, communications, and tribal and state government, whereas psychology emphasis would typically lead to a career in the mental health professions. In addition, the Integrated Studies degree is well-suited for those who want to pursue advanced degrees in the humanities, the social sciences, and law.
Contact: Robert Beshara, Ph.D., M.F.A.
Director of Integrated Studies