University Interdisciplinary Studies

University Interdisciplinary Studies (UIS) is the University’s nationally recognized interdisciplinary general education program. UIS courses educate students broadly through engagement with fundamental areas of knowledge that challenge students to go beyond their chosen specializations.

About University Interdisciplinary Studies

The curriculum is infused with classical and traditional knowledge that has value for today. It also incorporates knowledge in the social sciences, business, engineering, and technology necessary to prepare graduates for a contemporary world. All of these areas of study are integrated in interdisciplinary courses in which students examine in-depth problems, ideas, and issues from multiple perspectives. Since faculty from all schools and colleges of the University create these courses, the curriculum takes full advantage of the diverse resources of the institution.

In addition to providing students breadth of knowledge in their liberal education, University Interdisciplinary Studies makes clear the relationships among disciplinary areas of knowledge through integrative, cross-disciplinary courses that emphasize active learning, both within and outside of the classroom. By using creative and interactive teaching styles, the faculty encourage students to take responsibility for learning. The courses are intended to create a challenging and supportive community in which students and faculty join together in shared learning experiences.

All students in baccalaureate programs are required to take at least four University Interdisciplinary Studies courses over their four years as part of graduation requirements. An array of courses in all four categories are offered each semester. Students are required to take one course from each of the four breadth categories, for a minimum of 12 UIS credits. Each student must also take one Diversity (D) designated UIS course, which addresses complex issues of race, ethnicity, gender bias, sexual orientation, gender identity, class, disability, religion, human rights, freedom, empowerment, or the continuing struggles around the world for social equality.  Students may take an additional UIS course as an elective.

Breadth Categories

All students in baccalaureate programs at the University are required to take at least four University Interdisciplinary Studies (UIS) courses during their four years.

See complete course descriptions in our Undergraduate Catalog.

Artistic and Creative Expression

Courses in this category engage the imagination, foster flexible ways of thinking, and provide distinctive ways of understanding human beings and nature. Knowledge of architecture, art, dance, drama, literature, and music opens channels of communication and leads to a realization of the complexities and interrelationships of human society. These courses examine how individuals and cultures express themselves and provide opportunities for students to actively engage in the creative process.

Cultural and Historical Interpretation

Courses in this category seek to develop knowledge of global culture and history, providing access to a diversity of cultures and to the traditions, values, and practices that inform those cultures. We live in a blend of constantly changing societies and need to understand both how such societies function and how they were developed. These courses allow students to appreciate the richness, complexity, and importance of other ways of living. In order to participate effectively as citizens, students need to understand past events and their links to present ones.

Social Context and Change

Courses in this category are designed to provide students with an understanding of themselves and how they relate formally and informally with others in groups, institutions, and political and economic contexts. Courses emphasize human needs and behaviors; group relationships and processes; the evolution and nature of value systems; and techniques for accumulating, widening, and transmitting experience and knowledge to succeeding generations. These courses examine how groups of individuals interact, the impact of society on the individual, and encourage students to explore the processes and practices by which change occurs in social units.

Natural, Scientific, and Technological Exploration

Courses in this category seek to develop a greater awareness of science and technology and their human, social, and political implications. These courses encourage an understanding and application of scientific methods. Students learn to differentiate between science and technology, understand the limitations that are inherent in scientific inquiry, and evaluate the risks and benefits of technological advances. These courses examine how people interact with and understand the natural world and the tools they use to do so.

Diversity

Among their total credits within the University Interdisciplinary Studies program, each student must also take one Diversity (D) designated UIS course, which addresses complex issues of race, ethnicity, gender bias, sexual orientation, gender identity, class, disability, religion, human rights, freedom, empowerment, or the continuing struggles around the world for social equality.  Students may take an additional UIS course as an elective. For a course to count as a Diversity/Global Learning HIP, it must meet the following criteria:

  1. It must address U.S. diversity, world cultures, or both.
  2. It should explore complex issues of race, ethnicity, gender bias, sexual orientation, gender identity, class, disability, religion, human rights, freedom, empowerment, or the continuing struggles around the world for social equality. 
  3. It should present alternative perspectives on issues related to culture, sexuality, religion, gender, race, socio-economic class, power, etc.
  4. 50% of the content in the course should directly address the themes of diversity as defined above.
    Students should have significant opportunities to reflect on diversity issues.
  5. 25% of the course grade should be dedicated to an assignment or assignments that explicitly address diversity.

Each UIS Diversity course will include the letter D in its course number.

Active Learning

Active learning is a hallmark of the University Interdisciplinary Studies program. Faculty in the UIS program engage students in hands-on activities and then ask them to reflect on this work. As opposed to passive learning, active learning encourages students to engage with the world around them, apply what they learn in the classroom to new problems, and participate in a range of activities that support classroom learning.

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