Georgetown College has established a program in interdisciplinary studies that affords a limited number of qualified students the opportunity to pursue a major course of study that is self-designed and that integrates several disciplines. As Peter Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., former Father General of the Society of Jesus, has noted, the interdisciplinary approach is “the only significant way to heal the fracture of knowledge” that results from the separation and isolation of the work of the disciplines.
The Interdisciplinary Studies (IDST) major is normally developed during the second semester of the sophomore year with the aid of faculty from the disciplines to be integrated. The major is restricted to students with a cumulative QPI of 3.5 and the program presupposes that most core requirements of the College have been fulfilled.
A viable proposal for an IDST major must demonstrate true interdisciplinarity by spanning two or more departmental programs in the College. An ordinary faculty member from each of the anchoring departments must be involved as a major advisor and thesis reader. The applicant should select a balance of coursework from each discipline and must show that the proposed major cannot be accommodated within an existing departmental major or through the combination of an existing major plus minor. Students who wish to build an IDST major from an approved program or departmental minor must receive approval from the relevant program director or departmental chair.
The proposal should include a brief 1–2 page introduction to the proposed topic that justifies the major and outlines an intellectual question that guides the course of study. In consultation with the faculty advisors, the student should identify 12–14 courses of instruction from College departments or programs that deliver breadth and depth in the disciplines to be explored. The curriculum structure should include 1–2 introductory survey courses appropriate for the proposed major, 3–5 upper-level courses (including both theoretical and practical approaches) for each of the disciplines involved, and a capstone course or senior seminar. Permission for study abroad must be received from the faculty mentors and the Dean’s office. A maximum of 2 courses per semester of study abroad may be applied to the major. A senior thesis that integrates the curriculum pursued is required and may be part of the capstone course or may be independent.
Applications for the Interdisciplinary Studies major program should be made in the spring of the sophomore year to the office of the Dean of the College with the final proposal due by March 1. The student should submit the proposal with signatures of the ordinary faculty advisors as well as the appropriate department chairs. Application forms are available in the office of the Dean, White Gravenor 108. Associate Dean Bernie Cook will review and approve interdisciplinary major proposals.
Students approved for an Interdisciplinary major will fulfill the University’s core requirement in Integrated Writing through their capstone course or senior seminar and through the mentored production of an integrated thesis project.