Academic Catalog

Interdisciplinary Studies

(413) 662-5378
Chairperson: Rita Nnodim, Ph.D.

Interdisciplinary Studies Major

The Department of Modern Languages, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Philosophy offers a four-year program leading to a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies. Students majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies can pursue one of the following options:

B.A. Interdisciplinary Studies (for Educators)

MCLA students can pursue an initial teaching licensure at the early childhood, elementary, and middle school level through a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies in combination with an education major and a licensure program. At the early childhood and elementary school level, students usually choose two areas of concentration (such as English and Psychology, History and English, Environmental Studies and Mathematics). At the middle school level, students can opt for humanities or math/science concentrations. Students set up their individualized study-plan selecting classes from the course offerings at MCLA in close collaboration with an interdisciplinary studies faculty advisor.

B.A. Interdisciplinary Studies (Self-Designed Program)

MCLA’s unique B.A. Interdisciplinary Studies (Self-Designed) program offers motivated students the option to create their own, self-designed degree, for example by focusing on a thematic area of interest, a geographic region, a complex issue, or by combining two or more academic fields into a multidisciplinary major. Examples of a self-designed program could include, but are not limited to: European Studies, Film & Theatre, Psychology & Business, Arts & Psychology, Science & Communication, etc.

B.A. Interdisciplinary Studies (Pre-designed Programs)

Students may also opt to pursue a predesigned interdisciplinary program. These interdisciplinary programs are based on pre-structured study-plans and include:

  •  Cultural Studies
  •  American Studies
  •  Green and Sustainable Business Management
  •  Immigration and Diversity Studies
  •  International and Global Studies

Students graduating with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies will:

  • Demonstrate advanced critical thinking, academic research, writing, and oral presentation skills;
  • Have an understanding of how knowledge is created within different fields of inquiry;
  • Be able to study important issues in societies past and present in local and global contexts from the vantage point of different disciplines and through interdisciplinary frameworks;
  • Be able to study complex issues in society from ethical perspectives;
  • Be able to analyze texts in cultural, social, and historical contexts;
  • Apply methods, approaches, and insights from different disciplines (particularly in their respective areas of concentration) and interdisciplinary perspectives to the analysis of a given theme/issue and to the development of creative solutions to complex problems;
  • Have developed skills for lifelong learning;
  • Have acquired extensive knowledge of human societies and cultures, and will have developed an intercultural competence and awareness of global cultural diversity;
  • Be able to assume an informed, critical, and responsible position as citizens of our increasingly interconnected world.
IDST 150 Introduction to Cross-Cultural & Social Justice Studies3 cr

Opens up a perspective on the history, contemporary experience and cultural diversity of the major ethnic groups/immigrant groups that make up the American Mosaic, while also discussing issues of social justice and inequality. The focus is on the U.S. experience, but the course will also discuss the experience of minority groups in other parts of the world through selected case studies.

Attributes: Core Human Heritage (CHH)  
IDST 299 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies3 cr

Introduces students to approaches, methods and themes in interdisciplinary studies. Draws on concepts and approaches from selected academic disciplines (such as sociology, history, political science, psychology, cultural studies) to develop interdisciplinary frameworks for the study of important issues in society. Course topic identified by subtitle (e.g. Introduction to Urban Studies, Prison, Punishment, and Society).

Attributes: Core Self & Society (CSS)  
Repeatable: Unlimited Credits  
IDST 320 Interpretation3 cr

Beginning with the consideration of the raw data with which scholars work, students proceed through the process by which meaning is constructed and then through the processes by which various interpretations can be challenged or defended, with special emphasis placed upon standards for distinguishing effective from ineffective arguments.

Prerequisite: Junior/senior status  
IDST 350 World History in Contexts3 cr

Focuses on the history of a geographic area, nation, epoch, or selected social group. Students will critically engage with a variety of sources, such as written historic documents, oral histories, literary texts, music and cinematic representations of past and present human experience in local and global (particularly non-Western) contexts. Course topic identified by subtitle (e.g. History of Africa in Literature and Film; Women in History and Society).

Prerequisite: Junior/senior status  
Repeatable: Unlimited Credits  
IDST 360 Topics in Culture and Society3 cr

Explores complex and controversial topics in culture and society from the vantage point of at least two different disciplines (e.g. sociology, history, psychology, literature, cultural studies) and interdisciplinary perspectives. Course topic identified by subtitle (e.g. Madness and Society; Prison and Society; Globalization; Global Migration; Popular Cinema and Society in India and the Diaspora; Culture, Power, and Society; Nationalism and Religious Fundamentalism).

Prerequisite: Junior/senior status  
Repeatable: Unlimited Credits  
IDST 401 Senior Seminar3 cr

Available only to senior interdisciplinary studies majors, this seminar requires students to carry out supervised research projects within their areas of study and to share the progress and results of their research with seminar participants.

Prerequisite: Senior IDST Major  
IDST 495 Teaching Assistant - IDST3 cr
Repeatable: Unlimited Credits  
IDST 500 Directed Independent Study1-3 cr

Open to junior and senior IDST majors who wish to read in a given area or to study a topic in depth. Written reports and frequent conferences with the advisor are required.

Prerequisite: Junior/senior status, department approval  
Repeatable: maximum of 12 credits  
IDST 540 Interdisciplinary Internship1-6 cr

Offers seniors field experience that actively and extensively draws upon the concepts, principles, and skills of at least two different disciplines. The internship must include a strong writing component in which the student interprets his/her field experience with reference to key ideas and themes of the relevant disciplines.

Prerequisite: Senior status, department approval  
Repeatable: maximum of 15 credits  

Teaching Licensure

Students majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies (with a liberal arts area of study) may opt to pursue initial teacher licensure as an early childhood teacher, elementary education teacher, or middle school teacher. These students will complete an interdisciplinary studies major, an education major, and a licensure program in education.