Dec 03, 2020
Please click here to see Individually Structured Major department information.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Interdisciplinary Studies Major (ISM) provides students with the opportunity to construct an individualized major that meets their unique needs and interests, and which results in a B.A. This flexible program allows students to follow academic pursuits that transcend traditional department or college boundaries, combining coursework from two, three, or even more academic units to explore a particular theme. An ISM tends to be more focused than traditional majors and should not be considered a default major for students uncertain about their course of study.
These degree requirements are subject to periodic revision by the academic department, and the College reserves the right to make exceptions and substitutions as judged necessary in individual cases. Therefore, the College strongly urges students to consult regularly with their major advisor and CLAS advisor to confirm the best plans of study before finalizing them.
- This is an on-campus program.
Declaring This Major
- Click here to go to general information about declaring a major
- In order to declare an Interdisciplinary Studies Major, students are required to submit a program plan that includes a proposal and a course contract. Students should aim to complete a program plan before the end of the sophomore year. The proposal should be approved before students have taken one-third of the classes listed in their course contracts. Copies of your completed ISM proposal and course contract must be filed with the Associate Dean for Diversity, Outreach and Initiatives and with your CLAS Academic Advisor.
- The ISM proposal must include
- A description of your chosen theme (see below for sample themes).
- An explanation of why the theme requires coursework that integrates multiple disciplines. You can choose a theme within interdisciplinary frameworks already established in CLAS but which do not offer BA degrees. These frameworks include Chinese Studies, Health Humanities, Law Studies, Religious Studies, Social Justice, Sustainability, and Women’s and Gender Studies. You are also encouraged to create your own frameworks.
- An outline of specific learning objectives for the ISM (see below for sample learning objectives).
- Approval from the Associate Dean for Diversity, Outreach and Initiatives.
- Your ISM course contract must include
- A list of the courses in your chosen disciplines and the optional “grab bag” of courses that you intend to apply to your ISM, as well as potential alternate courses. You should work closely with the Associate Dean for Diversity, Outreach and Initiatives and faculty advisors in your chosen disciplines to create your course contract.
- Signatures from your chosen Primary Faculty Advisor from one of your main disciplines and signatures from Faculty Advisors from your other main disciplines. You do not need a faculty advisor for grab bag courses.
- Signature from your Academic Advisor.
- Signature from the Associate Dean for Diversity, Outreach and Initiatives.
To earn a degree, students must satisfy all requirements in each of the areas below, in addition to their individual major requirements.
The ISM program plan requires course work over two or three disciplines. A discipline is defined as a single department or program such as biology, ethnic studies or math. The ISM program plan must comply with the following policies:
- Students must complete a minimum of 42 credits from approved coursework.
- Students must complete a minimum of 18 upper division (3000 level and above) credit hours with a minimum of 9 upper division level credit hours in Disciplines I and II.
- Students must earn a minimum grade of C-(1.7) in all major courses taken at CU Denver and must achieve a minimum cumulative major GPA of 2.0. All graded attempts in required and elective courses are calculated in major GPA. Students cannot complete major or ancillary course requirements as pass/fail.
- A minimum of 24 credit hours must be completed with CU Denver faculty (at least 9 credits in Disciplines I and II, in addition to ISMA 3100 and ISMA 4900).
Program Restrictions, Allowances and Recommendations
- Once the ISM course contract is filed, any changes to coursework must be approved by the student’s Primary Faculty Advisor and resubmitted to the Associate Dean for Diversity, Outreach and Initiatives and to the student’s CLAS Academic Advisor.
- A minimum of 30 semester hours must be completed in liberal arts and sciences course work.
- A maximum of one discipline (15 credits) may be outside CLAS.
- A third optional discipline may be a mixture of course work, excluding courses from the first and second disciplines.
- An ISM title must be consistent with the academic theme and disciplines in the program plan.
- Students may petition the Associate Dean for Diversity, Outreach and Initiatives to fulfill their introduction and capstone outside of ISMA 3100 and ISMA 4900.
- The ISM proposal should be approved before students have taken one-third of the classes listed in their course contracts.
Roles and Responsibilities
- creates the ISM proposal and course contract (in collaboration with faculty advisors)
- meets regularly with ISM Primary Advisor to assess progress through ISM
- fulfills requirements of ISM course contract
Associate Dean for Diversity, Outreach and Initiatives
- approves student proposals for ISM
- signs off on ISM course contracts
- maintains records of ISM applications
- certifies graduation
Primary Faculty Advisor
- approves ISM course contract
- meets with ISM advisees to monitor progress
- oversees advisees’ capstone projects
Other Faculty Advisors
- approve course contract
- help with capstone projects when needed
CLAS Academic Advisor
- reviews overall course contract
- approves exempt core area
ISM Coursework Requirements
Complete the following courses:
ISMA 3100-should be taken early in the academic career (i.e. sophomore year)
ISMA 4900-should be taken toward the end of the academic career (i.e. senior year)
- ISMA 3100 - Learning Across Disciplines (3 credit hours)
Interdisciplinary Coursework (42-48 credit hours)
While the ISM requires students to take a minimum of 15 credit hours in each of two disciplines, students can fulfill the remainder of their credit hours by contracting with additional disciplines or by creating a “grab bag”: choosing courses from a variety of disciplines that suit their ISM plan. Up to 15 credit hours for an ISM can come from outside of CLAS.
Sample breakdowns of what ISM coursework might look like:
Discipline I: 15 hours
Discipline II: 15 hours
Discipline III: 9 hours
Discipline IV: 9 hours
Total: 48 credit hours
Discipline I: 18 hours
Discipline II: 15 hours
“Grab Bag” from four disciplines: 12 hours
Total: 45 credit hours
Discipline I: 24 hours
Discipline II: 18 hours
Total: 42 credit hours
- ISMA 4900 - Interdisciplinary Studies Capstone (3 credit hours)
Examples of Interdisciplinary Studies Major themes could include:
- Global Health
- Victorian Studies
- Gender and Media
- Applied Sciences
- Urban Studies
- Consumers and Consumption
- Disability Studies
- Health and Sexuality
- Human Rights
- Human-centered design and innovation
- Food Studies
- Science, Technology, and Society
- Latin American Studies
An example course contract for Global Health could look like:
Discipline I: Anthropology
ANTH 1000 Anthropology: Past and Present OR ANTH 2102: Culture and the Human Experience
ANTH 3032 Anthropology of Health Care Policy
ANTH 3210 Urban Food Systems and Sustainability
ANTH 4080 Global Health Practice (Travel Study Course)
ANTH 4300 Migrant Health
Discipline II: Public Health
PBHL 2001 Introduction to Public Health
PBHL 3041 Health, Culture, and Society
PBHL 3070 Perspectives in Global Health
PBHL 3071 Global Topics in Sexual and Reproductive Health
PBHL 4020 Global Health: Comparative Public Health Systems
COMM 4500 Health Communication
ECON 4660 Health Economics
GEOG 3501 Geography of Health
HIST 4346 Medicine and Society: Ancients to the Present
SOCY 3440 Medical Sociology
Example of learning objectives for the ISM in Global Health:
Develop knowledge of current global health issues.
- Identify the theories, methods, and analytical perspectives of anthropology and public health to understand global health systems.
- Synthesize the theories, methods, and analytical perspectives of anthropology and public health, with input from other disciplines, to answer interdisciplinary questions.
- Communicate ideas effectively in writing and through speaking.
- Critically evaluate a variety of textual and statistical evidence.
- Demonstrate ethical approaches to studying a variety of cultural perspectives.