The Natural Sciences and Mathematics
department offers a BA degree in Interdisciplinary Science
. Unlike traditional science degree programs that involve concentrated study in one discipline, Interdisciplinary Science
is an alternative approach to science and mathematics, offering a curriculum that spans more than one discipline and extends study into the arts, humanities, and social sciences. In addition to the major, students have the option, if majoring in a different program, to elect an academic minor in Interdisciplinary Science. Students interested in completing the minor should review the minor curriculum .
The program has a self-designed Interdisciplinary Science
option and three areas of focus:
- Biology of Health
- Science of the Environment
- History and Philosophy of Science
The curriculum prepares students to pursue alternative science-based careers, which depend on strong scientific and quantitative reasoning and an understanding of the relationship of natural sciences and mathematics with the social sciences, humanities, and art. Students achieve interdisciplinary understanding by exploring the connections between science and mathematics and social interest issues, such as health, environment, education, ethics, policy, and the arts.
The curriculum merges theory and practice with sequenced courses, which provide depth and breadth, and experiential offerings, such as internships and senior projects, that address real-world problems. Classroom learning is student-centered and integrated with lecture-labs that follow the seminar model. Introductory courses impart scientific principles, theory, and methodology, and provide opportunities to develop problem-solving and laboratory skills. Intermediate and advanced-level courses apply scientific and mathematical principles to understanding the relationship between the natural sciences and social sciences or humanities. In all courses, students are encouraged to move away from passive learning and memorization and gain an understanding of the concepts and applications of a particular scientific or mathematical topic.
Areas of Focus within Interdisciplinary Science
Areas of focus are interdisciplinary and allow students to do coursework across the natural sciences, mathematics, and other liberal arts disciplines. Working with their advisor, students write a statement that discusses their interests and notes their choice of elective courses in the social sciences and humanities, which relate to their area of focus. For example:
- A student interested in the Science and Culture of Health may be advised to take courses in health psychology and health policy.
- A student interested in the Science of the Environment may be advised to take courses in economics and urban studies.
- A student interested in the History and Philosophy of Science may take courses in philosophy and history.
Students reflect upon and revisit the statement each year, and as they complete their collection of courses in the natural sciences, mathematics, social sciences, and humanities, they come to appreciate the importance of interdisciplinary perspectives in investigating these selected areas of focus.
Students also have the option to pursue a self-designed Interdisciplinary Science
course of study. Working with their advisor, students must write a statement that discusses their interests and notes their choice of elective courses in the social sciences and humanities.