Undergraduate students in Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences (IAS) focus on four core learning objectives: critical thinking; collaboration and shared leadership; interdisciplinary research; and writing and presentation.  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 capstone or faculty approved independent research.

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. 

Interdisciplinary Research

The IAS program offers students multiple opportunities to understand and practice research across traditional areas of knowledge and modes of inquiry.  We help students think critically and creatively about how to generate and contextualize complex research questions, conduct research by identifying and utilizing appropriate sources and methods, and present research in a form that best suits the intended audience(s).  We also foster critical and creative reflection on ethical questions raised by problem- and inquiry-based interdisciplinary research that connects diverse academic and/or non-academic sectors.

Critical Thinking

The IAS program offers students multiple opportunities to acquire and hone the cognitive processes and attitudinal qualities characteristic of advanced critical thinking.  We help students to develop the creative and self-reflexive habits of mind associated with inquiry- and research-based critical thinking by focusing on diverse (written, performative, visual, and material) practices of interpretation, analysis, argumentation, application, synthesis, and evaluation.  We foster attitudinal qualities that generate in students a willingness to consider and assess multiple perspectives, draw informed conclusions, and value intellectual exploration and risk taking.

Collaboration and Shared Leadership

The IAS program offers students multiple opportunities to develop effective collaboration and shared leadership skills.  We help students hone the capacities needed to accomplish tasks in diverse group contexts.  This includes the ability to work with others to identify dimensions of a project; to generate and refine ideas related to a project; to appreciate and draw on group members' multiple histories, strengths, and potential contributions; to follow through on the consequences of collective decisions; and to work on specific tasks without losing a sense of the whole.  We also foster competencies associated with shared leadership, including the ability to listen empathically; to mediate conflict and act for the common good of the group; to encourage and participate in multiple forms of individual and group communication; to tolerate ambiguity within emerging processes; to share roles flexibly; and to reflect critically and creatively on collaboration processes.

Writing and Presentation

The IAS program offers students many and varied opportunities to engage in writing and other modes of expression as processes for critical thinking, interdisciplinary research, and collaboration and shared leadership. We help students develop significant purposes for their work and awareness of audience and context. We help students learn to choose a form of reasoning, level of analysis, and use of evidence appropriate to their purpose and audience. We encourage creative explorations of questions, problems, and challenges as well as effective forms and methods of delivery. We help students cultivate clear and coherent organization and expression in a variety of genres. We provide opportunities for students to participate in the making of academic, professional, informal, and innovative discourse, and to engage with the ethical dimensions of this activity. We encourage self-reflection, instructor-student collaboration, and peer response as processes that can enhance understanding and improve the effectiveness of expression and communication.