Catalog 2015-2016

Interdisciplinary Studies

Teaching Faculty

Faculty Contact: D. Sutherland


Capable and self-motivated students wishing to explore major courses of study not offered by the College may petition for an Interdisciplinary Studies major. The major allows such students the freedom to design and develop a course of study which combines classes taken from several departments or areas. Each Interdisciplinary Studies major must have a coherent thematic principle governing the selection and sequencing of courses in the major and it must be consistent with the goals of a liberal arts education. Students who would like to explore an Interdisciplinary Studies major are urged to consult with their faculty advisor or the office of the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs. Sample major proposals can be found on the Interdisciplinary Studies webpages at


A student wishing to pursue an interdisciplinary major should, before spring registration of the sophomore year, find a faculty advisor who is interested in being a mentor through this major. This should not be done later than the fall semester of the student's junior year.

  • The student and advisor, working together, draft a program of study satisfying the requirements for an interdisciplinary major (see below).
  • The student writes a justification for this major, articulating its overarching theme and stating his or her aims and the way the major satisfies them.
  • The student and advisor recruit another faculty member to constitute the supervisory committee for the major. The advisor chairs this committee. The committee reviews and approves, with possible modifications, the proposed major and its justification.
  • The proposed major, signed by the student and the members of the committee, is sent to the Associate Provost for approval, along with the student's narrative justification.
  • Once the major has been accepted, the student completes an Advisor Designation and Major/Minor Declaration Form.
  • If the Associate Provost approves the proposed major, he or she notifies the student and the committee in writing that the major has been accepted. The Associate Provost informs the Registrar of the student's major requirements.
  • Once the major has been accepted, any changes must be approved by the committee and by the Associate Provost, who reports the changes to the Registrar.
  • In addition to its thematic coherence, an interdisciplinary studies major must include the following components.
  • A clear title for the major;
  • At least 10 courses (with suitable alternate courses, if appropriate). As with any major, at least 50% of major courses must be taken in residence at the College and a minimum grade point average of 2.0 in the major must be achieved;
  • No fewer than 4 of the major courses at the 300- or 400-level;
  • A description of a senior capstone experience with elements methodologically appropriate for the major. The proposal should also describe whether or not the experience is for course credit and how (and who) determines the capstone grade.

Pre-designed templates

Pre-designed templates for the following areas of interdisciplinary studies are available from the faculty members listed. 

  • American Studies  provides an integrative and interdisciplinary approach to the study of United States history and culture. Students gain a variety of academic perspectives on American culture, place American culture within some global context, and examine what American studies means. Student may also choose to focus on a specific area of interest, such as African American Studies or Southern Studies, within the la5rger area of American Studies. Contact Jane Harris, Professor of Religious Studies, or Jay Barth, Professor of Politics, for more information. 
  • Religion, Globalization, and Culture  is a field of inquiry and expertise now recognized by scholars in religious studies, anthropology, and sociology. This interdisciplinary studies major template combines classroom learning with outside-the-classroom learning. Its aim is to acquaint students with methods and theories pertinent to the three areas of focus; and to prepare student for working with institutions that are working at the intersection of religion and globalization. Contact Dr. Jay McDaniel, Professor of Religious Studies, for more information. 
  • Music Business/Arts Management  is a way for students interested in music-related professions that are not performance-based to develop business and accounting skills useful for careers in music or arts management. Contact Professor Lyle Rupert, Professor of Economics and Business, for more information.


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