BA in Interdisciplinary Studies

Recognized as one of the best integrative programs by

“While a more traditional academic model works for most students, some are looking for a more inclusive educational experience. We're pleased to recognize Fairleigh Dickinson University for embracing students who are looking to address complex issues through interdisciplinary collaboration.

What is Interdisciplinary Studies? (IDS)

That’s probably the question you are asking now, particularly if you were attracted to this website by one of its specializations.  Interdisciplinary Studies courses replace the conventional distributional requirements with courses relevant to contemporary life and focus on complex themes, questions, and issues (is globalization good, bad, or little of both?). Topics such as globalization cannot be adequately comprehended from the perspective of one discipline alone; they require a variety of approaches, perspectives, and disciplines to fully understand.   For instance, we study globalization from the perspective of economics, political science, sociology and anthropology, which together illuminate the topic in a way that each alone cannot. In the 1997 Handbook of Undergraduate Curriculum, Professors Julie Klein and William B. Newell declared interdisciplinary studies to be the most important advancement in education and work place training of the Century.

Interdisciplinary studies courses, like most liberal arts distribution requirements, are meant to educate the whole person to better understand and function in the wider world and to prepare students with the mental flexibility required for life-long learning in a fast changing world in which old occupations are rapidly being replaced by the new.

The Specializations

The Specializations, on the other hand, are meant to prepare you for your career choice. They are “bread and butter,” career oriented courses of study. They are not simply minors; they are more like majors in that they require 30 or more credits to fulfill. They are programs not provided elsewhere in the university.

The Core Curriculum

As mentioned above, the IDS courses replace the traditional distribution (liberal arts) requirements:  mathematics, arts, humanities, natural, and social sciences, but these disciplines are applied to complex topics, issues, and questions.

The natural sciences are covered in two courses: Ecology and Evolution and Evolutionary Psychology. These courses introduce students to the most important and exciting developments in biology (evolution, genetics, ecology, neuroscience, and primatology), psychology (cognitive, developmental, and social), philosophy (of science and of mind) and literature insofar as they throw light on the subject matter.  

The math requirement is provided by the course, Real World Statistics. In the age of “big data” some knowledge of statistics is vital.   

The social sciences are covered in Language, Logic, and Culture, Literature and Culture and Globalization: Nature, Causes, and Consequences.

The humanities and arts are covered in Literature and Culture, Design and Culture I & II, and Music and Culture. Each course explores the differences and commonalities among cultures through the lenses of anthropology, literature, philosophy, and art.

Finally, the methods of interdisciplinary study and research are taught in three one-credit courses: Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies I & II, and Introduction to Interdisciplinary Research.

In your senior year you will cap-off your education in your specialization by developing a Capstone project using an interdisciplinary approach to understand an issue or problem related to your specialization. A well-written capstone can demonstrate to a prospective employer or graduate school your ability to work independently.

For additional information contact

Dr. Madera Edwards, Program Director