Program Overview

Interdisciplinary Studies Program Overview

Interdisciplinary Studies provides students with the opportunity to construct, with intensive consultation and advice, a 36-credit interdisciplinary “major equivalent” that is not restricted to conventional departmental or unit boundaries. While the program encourages the creation of highly individualized degrees, it serves to accommodate students in a variety of fields that lack an undergraduate major and are interdisciplinary by their very nature. These include, among others: Aquaculture, Criminology, Cognitive Science, Environmental Studies, International Studies, Linguistics, Sustainability Studies, Translation & Interpretation, Health Studies and other Pre-Professional programs.

Objectives of the Program:

Our main goal is to foster critical interdisciplinary thinking on the part of students who are obliged to articulate a “proposal,” which defines an interdisciplinary inquiry. Thus, students must construct, under advisement, a 36 credit upper-division program of study, which draws on not less than three Departments in the University. To do so, they must come to an understanding of the immense possibilities available in the University as represented in the UHM catalogue, and then see how the various courses in their programs integrate into an intellectual whole. A critical feature of this process is the writing of a  ”narrative,” a clear statement of the rationale for the course of study. Once engaged in the course of study, the IS major is a unique opportunity for students, regardless of the immediate motivations in any single course, to see that there are important connections as regards what occurs in the world and that they need to get clear on these connections in problem-solving. During the mentoring sessions, the student learning objectives are:

The main goal of the Interdisciplinary Program is to foster critical interdisciplinary thinking on the part of students who construct, under advisement, a 36 credit upper-division program of study, which draws on not less than three Departments in the University. The Program Learning Outcomes are:

  1. To demonstrate knowledge in the chosen area of their interdisciplinary major.
  2. To demonstrate the capacity to think across disciplines. (We encourage students to be problem-focused, rather than discipline-oriented, and to recognize that information pertinent to problem-solution is not discipline-bound.)
  3. To communicate effectively, both orally and in writing. (The writing of a narrative, which justifies the array of courses in the program, is the first step in developing this capacity.)
  4. To demonstrate critical thinking, encouraged, perhaps uniquely, not only by the effort to construct individualized BA programs, but by pressing students to expand the context and forms of inquiry.
  5. To demonstrate “learning to learn” skills or ‘problem-solving” skills, which begins with the construction of the specifics of the major, requires initiative in determining what needs to be investigated and how it is to be investigated.

(Click here for a Sample Proposal.)

Curriculum

IS Major
All Interdisciplinary Studies “major equivalents” are comprised of courses offered by departments and programs in the UHM catalogue. It is a crucial feature of the advising process that the “major equivalent” consist of upper-division courses with thematic integrity. Flexible curriculum choice is thus made possible with no loss of academic rigor.

Student Learning Outcomes for Individually Designed IS Curriculum
The Student Learning Outcomes for the designed interdisciplinary IS curriculum, comprised of coursework from different disciplines, are as follows:

  1. To acquire knowledge and understanding in students’ chosen interdisciplinary field  (Progress Monitored in IS Major; Assessment Evidence Collected: IS Current Student Survey/Grad Exit Survey)
  2. To develop skills in exploring interdisciplinary relationships and follow problems across disciplinary boundaries (Assessment Evidence Collected from IS Proposal, Current Student Survey, Grad Exit Survey, and  Written Work in IS Courses)
  3. To develop critical thinking skills by developing skills of comparing, contrasting, and synthesizing a variety of perspectives (Assessment Evidence Collected— IS Program Survey/Grad Exit Survey/ Written Work in IS courses)
  4. To communicate clearly in writing (Assessment Evidence Collected from IS Proposal, Current Student Survey, Grad Exit Survey, and Written Work in IS Courses)
  5. To demonstrate life-long learning and problem-solving skills (Assessment Evidence Collected from IS Proposal, Current Student Survey, Grad Exit Survey , and Written Work in IS Courses)

Interdisciplinary Studies Curriculum Map

IS Courses/ Major Courses SLO I SLO2 SLO3 SLO 4 SLO5
Upper Division Course Work Major Courses IS Prop, IS Courses, IS Major IS Courses/IS Major IS Proposal/IS Courses/Major Courses IS Course

Click here for a  Curriculum Template

 

IS Courses
Each IS Faculty teaches one course per semester regularly. The courses are:

IS 322: Ethnohistory (Spring Semester)

IS 331: Science and Culture (Spring Semester)

IS 340: Human Values and the Environment (Fall Semester)

IS 441: Linguistic Anthropology. (Fall Semester)

Students may choose to include the above courses in the major equivalent if they fit into the program or take at least one of them as an elective. Through these courses students are introduced to interdisciplinary research methodology, written communication, critical thinking, interdisciplinary problem-based thinking and methods of exploring linkages between disciplinary fields for creative problem-solving, which cover many aspects of both Student Learning Outcomes and Institutional Learning Outcomes.

In our courses, we encourage students to:

  • think critically and creatively, applying questioning and reasoning, generating and exploring new questions (SLO 2, ILO 2a: IS 322, IS 331 & IS 340)
  • conceptualize problems and ask research questions, analyze research data, engage in self-directed inquiry (SLO 2; ILO 2b: IS 322 & IS 414)
  • communicate clearly in writing (SLO 3 & 4; ILO 2a, 2c)
  • demonstrate continuous learning and personal growth through self-assessment and reflection, intellectual curiosity, personal and social responsibility (SLO 5; ILO 3a: IS 322, IS 331, 340)
  • to show respect for cultural differences  or stewardship of natural environment and ethical responsibility (SLO 5; ILO 3b, 3c: IS 322 & IS 340)


Fall  IS Courses

IS 322 Ethnohistory (Writing-Intensive)
Instructor: Emanuel J. Drechsel, Interdisciplinary Studies
Course Description:
This course offers an introduction to ethnohistory, i.e. the interdisciplinary, holistic, and inclusive investigation of the histories of non-European peoples drawing in part on the analysis of documented sources, in part on other disciplines to help interpret these sources in a culturally appropriate manner. What has distinguished ethnohistory from conventional history is its focus on culture contact and sociocultural conflict, requiring explicit notions of other societies, concepts of cultural relativism, and ethnological models of crosscultural interactions. Unlike Euro-centric historians, who focus on their own past, ethnohistorians have been primarily interested in crosscultural relations and in exchanges between members of different societies. IS 322 (cross-listed with Anth 427) examines central questions of ethnohistorical analysis applicable to any culture-contact situation, and addresses key methodological and theoretical issues in relation to history, anthropology, and other disciplines. For exemplary cases, the class explores how some of these issues have emerged in the eastern United States, but also considers instances of how ethnohistory applies to other culture areas and how it can contribute to a global understanding of the past. Not bound solely to methodological concerns, discussions encompass broader theoretical concerns raised by ethnohistorians about the relationships between history and social science.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • To develop an appreciation of the interdisciplinary relationships between history and cultural anthropology (ethnology) plus other historical methods of anthropology (such as archaeology) and of “out of the box” thinking at large
  • To acquire a critical understanding of ethnohistory as a discipline as well as its methodological and theoretical fundamentals, including a culture-sensitive appreciation of history that specifically draws on ethnological and other anthropological principles of analysis of “the other”
  • To gain a broad appreciation of colonial history and its manifestations with eastern North America and other culture areas as exemplary cases
  • To improve critical thinking skills
  • To develop basic research skills on an acceptable ethnohistorical topic
  • To cultivate skills in organization of an acceptable ethnohistorical research topic by systematic revision and in semi-formal written presentation, useful for purposes other than just academic ones

 Texts:
Axtell, James. 2001. Natives and Newcomers. The Cultural Origins of North America.New York, Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press
Barber, Russell J, and Frances F. Berdan. 1998. The Emperor’s Mirror. Understanding Cultures Through Primary Sources. Tuscon: University of Arizona Press
Wolf, Eric R. 1997. Europe and the People without History. Second edition with a new preface. Berkeley: University of California Press
There will be a few additional, short readings on selected topics, of which some will be provided in class and others are available on line.

Click here for IS 322 Course Syllabus

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IS 331: Science and Culture (Writing Intensive) Fall Semester
Instructor: Jaishree OdinInterdisciplinary Studies                                                           
Course Description

The course focuses on cultural studies of science from historical, philosophical, sociological, and literary perspectives. We investigate practices through which scientific knowledge is articulated and maintained in specific cultural contexts and translated and extended into new contexts. Through examining the intersection of science with gender, race, and environment, we explore how science has become central to our cultural imaginations and what that means for our futures.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • To acquire knowledge and understanding of how the production of scientific knowledge is embedded in the social, political and cultural matrix
  • To develop skills of comparing, contrasting, and synthesizing a variety of scientific and humanist perspectives in order to understand how science shapes culture
  • To develop an ability to follow scientists and scientific applications across disciplinary boundaries
  • To develop critical thinking skills by learning to compare, contrast, and synthesize a variety of perspectives
  • To communicate clearly in writing

Required Texts   

A Science and Culture Reader with various articles.

Dumit, Joseph, Drugs for Life. Duke University Press, 2012.
Harding, Sandra, “Racial” Economy of Science: Towards a Democratic Future. Indiana University Press, 1993.
Shelley, Mary, Frankenstein. Bantam
Watson, James, The Double Helix. W. W. Norton, 1980.

Click here for IS 331 Course Syllabus

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 Spring IS Courses

IS 340: Human Values and the Environment [Writing Intensive/ Ethics Focus]

Instructor: Jaishree Odin, Interdisciplinary Studies                                                               

Course Description    
In this course, we examine nature-culture dynamic over a range of contexts which include ideas of nature, ecological degradation, sustainability, systems ecology, eco-feminism, political ecology, and environmental justice. We frame our exploration within the broader debates currently taking place among environmental thinkers regarding our ethical responsibility to other persons, to future generations, to other animals, and to ecosystems and the Earth itself. A primary goal of the course is to break through the traditional disciplinary boundaries in order to articulate new possibilities for understanding the human place in nature and to encourage creative, re-visioned thinking for active engagement in environmental problem-solving. In addition to learning different ethical perspectives as they relate to the environment, students also reflect on political ecology as they explore economic production from the perspective of consumption and examine various minority movements for creating a sustainable society.

Contemporary ethical issues are fully integrated into the course materials and constitute at least 30% of the content. Since ethics is closely related to values, students also explore how values play an important role in shaping people’s ethical perspectives. Through the use of lectures, discussions and assignments, students develop basic competency in recognizing and analyzing ethical issues; responsibly deliberating on ethical issues; and making ethically determined judgments.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • To acquire knowledge and understanding of environmental issues over a range of contexts, for example, sustainability, systems ecology, eco-feminism, political ecology, and environmental justice.
  • To develop an ability to follow problems across disciplinary boundaries
  • To develop critical thinking skills by learning to compare, contrast, and synthesize a variety of perspectives
  • To develop the ability to communicate clearly in writing
  • To develop a basic competency in recognizing and analyzing ethical issues, responsibly deliberating on ethical issues, and making ethically determined judgments.

 Required Texts

Human Values and the Environment Reader with articles from various sources
Michael Pollan. Omnivore’s Dilemma. Penguin, 2006
Rachel Carson. Silent Spring. Mariner Books. 1962/2002
T. Princen, M. Maniates and K. Conca (eds). Confronting Consumption. MIT Press, 2002.
Selection from Vandana Shiva’s Earth Democracy. South End Press, 2005.

Click here for IS 340 syllabus

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IS 414 (X-Listed with Anth/Ling 414): Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology (WI) 

Instructor: Emanuel J. Drechsel, Interdisciplinary Studies

Course Description:
This class examines the relationships of language to culture and society from a broadly defined anthropological perspective, and focuses on the following major topics:

  • Nature of language and culture as contrasted with other forms of communication and behaviors
  • Evolution of language (including the question of whether non-human primates can “speak”)
  • Language and thought (with special attention to the question of linguistic and cultural constraints on “the mind” or linguistic relativity)
  • Language as a means of social identity (including relations between language on the one hand and age, gender, “race” or ethnicity, prestige, power, and additional social factors on the other)
  • Various topics of a broadly sociolinguistic nature (such as the role of language in socialization and education, second-language learning versus first-language acquisition, bi- and multilingualism, literacy, etc.)
  • Language change and its sociocultural dimensions (including sociocultural implications of historical-linguistic reconstructions, language contact, and language death)

This course will pay some special attention to the ethnography and ethnohistory of speaking. For illustration, it will draw among others on the sociolinguistic situation of the Hawaiian Islands, which requires an examination of not only the relationships of Hawaiian to immigrant languages, but also the history of what is locally known as “Pidgin” (Hawaiian Creole English) as part of a review of pidgins and creoles.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • To develop an appreciation of the interdisciplinary relationships between linguistics and cultural anthropology (ethnology) plus archaeology and physical anthropology, i.e. the “fourth” branch of anthropology, introducing anthropology and other social-science students to linguistics as well as serving as a spring-board for students of language and languages to the study of the extralinguistic domain
  • To acquire a critical understanding of linguistic anthropology as a discipline as well as its methodological and theoretical fundamentals, including a culture-sensitive appreciation of language that specifically draws on ethnological and other anthropological principles of analysis of “the other”
  • To improve critical thinking skills
  • To develop basic research skills on an acceptable anthropological-linguistic topic
  • To cultivate skills in organization of an acceptable anthropological-linguistic research topic by systematic revision and in semi-formal written presentation, useful for purposes other than just academic ones

Texts:

Basso, Keith H. 1979. Portraits of “The Whiteman”. Linguistic Play and Cultural Symbols among the Western Apache. Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press

Ottenheimer, Harriet J. 2013. The Anthropology of Language. An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology. Third edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth
Saville-Troike, Muriel. 2003. The Ethnography of Communication. An Introduction. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing
Strunk, William, Jr., and E.B. White. 2000. The Elements of Style. Fourth or latest edition. White Plains, NY: Longman (recommended)

There will be a few additional, short readings on selected topics such as language change and its sociocultural context, Hawaiian Creole English (“Pidgin”), and Pidgin Hawaiian/Maritime Polynesian Pidgin, accessible on line or to be made available in class.

Click here for IS 414 Syllabus

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University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Interdisciplinary Studies