A Greenhouse for Student Growth
In integrated studies courses, students often learn more deeply and develop a stronger commitment to their own education. The special format – an interdisciplinary ten-credit program where two faculty and 40 or more students focus intensively on a central theme – seems to help students see themselves as full participants – colleagues in the creation of knowledge. It’s an opportunity to get excited about ideas, to experience a variety of learning modes and to make friends. My own education (Evergreen and Goddard) was in similar learning communities, so it’s a comfortable setting for me and one that I feel is incredibly valuable for students. Often they remark on how different this style of learning is. Students come to realize their own strengths and feel more prepared to deal with the challenges of college-level scholarship. It’s exciting to help create a setting where people can grow so much.
Margot Boyer English Faculty
Genuine Intellectual Inquiry for Students & Instructors
What I love about being a part of an Integrated Studies classroom environment is the sense of genuine intellectual inquiry it affords all of the participants, including the instructors. I love watching students arrive at their own interpretations of texts through seminaring. There’s nothing more thrilling than to see students making meaningful connections between the disciplines.
It’s also invigorating for me, as the instructor, to be challenged to consider new angles on old topics through a different disciplinary perspective. By studying a memoir through the lens of social psychology, I gained deeper insights into situations and cultural factors that impact individuals’ motivations, a perspective I could not have acquired through traditional literary analysis alone. Similarly, analyzing political speeches through the communications disciplinary perspective broadened my understanding of the many complex factors that influence rhetorical situations that extend beyond the usual textual analysis focus.
Terri Chung English Instructor
Why I teach Coordinated Studies classes
There are so many topics and ideas that my students and I can only explore if I have a colleague from another discipline beside me. We have so many fabulous faculty members at NSC who are wells of amazing information and knowledge. Getting to work with those people and learn from them is wonderful. Students get an entirely different experience when they have a pair of faculty working in tandem. The faculty are learning from each other and learning from the students as much as the students are learning from the faculty. Our classes become communities of inquisitive learners, all intent on mining a particular text, theme or idea, and what comes of it is always rich – and often unpredictable.
JC Clapp English/Humanities Faculty
Reaching Across the World
What a joy it has been to develop a complete online integrated studies program that reaches across the world while reaching out to students who otherwise find it difficult to attend classes on campus. Imagine learning about the world of work that includes one of your instructors actually on location in Africa. We developed a unique learning system, which includes multimedia lectures, vodcasts and online reading. Although students can’t be there, the program provides the next best way of otherwise studying in Africa.
Thomas Cook Economics Faculty
A New Adventure
Each coordinated course I teach is a new adventure. Each new group of students shapes the course work in new ways and uncovers distinct new insights and connections. Like other CS instructors, I bring my own passions for writing, literature, theatre, film, art and social justice with me to our work. Even more importantly, I bring a hunger to see the books, films and concepts through the hearts and minds of all in our shared learning community.
Jane Harradine English Faculty
Interdisciplinary Learning Starts with a Question
I bring interdisciplinary training to the Integrated Studies. Both my master’s degree and my doctoral degree are fully interdisciplinary across the humanities and social sciences. Although I was initially trained in English as an undergraduate, I quickly became dissatisfied with having too many parameters placed on the sorts of books I was expected to read or the kinds of questions I was expected to ask as a student. I fully embraced deep ‘interdisciplinarity’ as soon as I understood that it is ‘question-first’ inquiry. In a truly interdisciplinary learning environment, the particular disciplines or areas of study upon which one relies are not determined in advance. The interdisciplinary learner starts with a question, then goes to whatever bodies of knowledge she needs to answer that question. In my own learning, I’ve waded into law, cultural history, sociology, linguistics, film and media studies, psychoanalysis, gender and women studies, and the history and philosophy of science in order to get answers to the questions that I have as a learner. As a teacher, I find that even when I teach courses outside of formal integrated studies programs, I rely on this kind of intentional eclecticism when I design curricula. When the questions organize the inquiry first, truly interdisciplinary learning can happen. Inside of formal integrated studies program, this experience is even more intense and surprising for teachers and students, and it adds a meta-cognitive dimension to teaching and learning by calling attention to the affordances and limitations of particular disciplines for answering certain questions. Like my students, in formal integrated studies programs I have often found myself championing ideas and perspectives that are new to me, learning from everyone else in the room, and leaving thinking about learning itself in a new way. That’s why I keep coming back for more!
Bradley Lane English Faculty Coordinator
Learner-centered Philosophy & Structure
I feel so fortunate to teach in the Integrated Studies program because of the opportunity it provides to work with faculty from other disciplines. I like to think that I bring a cooperative spirit and willingness to learn to the Integrated Studies program. This has allowed me to learn not only from my colleagues but also from my students. I am also committed to a pedagogical practice that puts students at the center of their own learning, and the philosophy and structure of Coordinated Studies classes allow me to do this.
In addition to student-centered learning, anti-oppression work is also important to me, and teaching in Integrated Studies has allowed me to learn ways to do this work from other faculty members. The focus of Integrated Studies — a common thematic inquiry through multiple disciplines — has helped me to do anti-oppression work and also teach in richer, more complex ways.
Diana Ma English Department Faculty
Learning to Think Critically
I love working with students in interdisciplinary settings to cultivate learning that helps us all to think more critically about the cultures, societies and larger world in which we live. The program gives students the opportunity to do serious thinking and research, where their own life experiences are part of what they are learning about.
Karen Stuhldreher Gender and Women Studies Faculty