Undergraduate students in Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences (IAS) focus on four core learning objectives: critical and creative thinking; interdisciplinary research and inquiry; writing and communication; collaboration and shared leadership. These learning objectives are developed and documented through the IAS degree portfolio process, a process that begins with the school core course and concludes with the portfolio capstone course.
You will find below more detailed descriptions of how we define these four learning objectives. These definitions are shaped by our annual review of IAS student degree portfolios, faculty classroom assignments, and transcripts of focus groups with graduating seniors.
Collaboration and Shared Leadership
IAS students develop their collaboration and shared leadership abilities by learning to work with others to identify dimensions of a project, generate and refine ideas, follow through on the consequences of collective decisions, and pursue specific tasks without losing a sense of the whole. As part of this process, they learn to assess and draw on group members' histories, strengths, and potential contributions. They develop skills in listening, mediating conflict, playing different roles, and reflecting on the outcomes of collaborative work. Essential to this progress is understanding different ways of managing groups, and reflecting critically and creatively on collaboration processes.
Critical and Creative Thinking
IAS students develop their critical and creative thinking abilities by learning how to identify assumptions, and to work out how those assumptions inform results. They assess multiple perspectives, with an eye to understanding why and how they differ, and developing the capacity to engage in controversy productively. Students learn to identify central questions or concerns informing other work, and to develop their own work with clear animating questions. Students develop a range of skills in interpretation, analysis, argumentation, application, synthesis, and evaluation.
Interdisciplinary Research and Inquiry
IAS students develop their ability to assess and conduct interdisciplinary research by engaging with diverse areas of knowledge and kinds of inquiry. They learn to think critically and creatively as they develop research questions, pursue them with appropriate sources and methods, and present results in a form suited to their intended audience. In this process, they learn to position their own work in relation to other research literatures and methods of inquiry, and in relation to relevant debates.
Writing and Communication
IAS students develop their writing and communication abilities by articulating significant purposes for their work, and gaining an awareness of its audiences and contexts. They learn to communicate those purposes effectively to audiences through writing, presentations, and other media, and to use a range of evidence, both qualitative and quantitative, to support their arguments. As part of this process, they develop the ability to identify and refer to other work clearly. As part of the development of reflective practice, students learn how to improve their writing and communication by collecting and reflecting on evidence of its reception by others.