New interdisciplinary studies department to offer upper-division classes to all students

This school year, Southern Utah University welcomed the interdisciplinary studies department to support the master’s in interdisciplinary studies and other degrees and certificates connected to the subject. Starting in fall 2023, the program will launch a series of upper-division classes available to all students.

The IS department, housed under the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, allows students to explore multiple topics that pique their interest. Incorporating classes from over 20 areas of study, the MIS requires 30 credits in each field for graduation. 

Iliana Portaro, the department chair of the program, discussed why the curriculum can be additionally useful compared to other degree paths involving a single subject.

“The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies teaches students how to create meaningful connections between academic disciplines,” Portaro said. “It provides a unique and customized curriculum that integrates two or more academic disciplines, linked together by a common core of interdisciplinary studies courses. In collaboration with their faculty mentors, students develop a personalized degree program directly connected to their personal and professional objectives.”

The upgrade to a whole department brings many benefits for enrolled T-Birds, including an increased opportunity for internships, research and conferences. 

Students can also sign up for study abroad trips focused on subjects within the program. Lecturer Whitney Mendoza will guide a “Leadership in London” trip in the upcoming summer.

The most significant addition to the program will be the INDS 4900 class, also known as Special Topics. Although the topic will vary by course, the class will focus on viewing a specific subject from the perspectives of multiple different methods of study.

As of now, only one of these courses will be held per semester. The offered courses include:

— Fall 2023: The Problem of Punishment, taught by criminal justice professors Jeanne Subjack and Daniel Swanson and philosophy professor Kristopher Phillips.

— Spring 2024: The History, Culture, and Legacy of the American Civil War taught by English professor Lisa Arter and history professor Laura June Davis.

— Fall 2024: The Philosophy and Anthropology of Climate Change taught by philosophy professor Gretchen Ellefson and anthropology professor Matt Newsom.

— Spring 2025: Atomic America taught by INDS professor Spencer Wells and history professor Ryan Paul.

All students, regardless of major, are encouraged to sign up for any topics they’re interested in. Registration for the fall 2023 semester opens between March 27 and April 5 for current students. For those interested, more information on the IS program can be found here.

Story by: Kale Nelson
Photo by: Luke McKenzie