Interdisciplinary Studies (EKI)

Interdisciplinary Study at Grinnell College and the Expanding Knowledge Initiative

A liberal arts education at Grinnell College integrates different forms of knowledge, approaches, and ways of thinking. Interdisciplinary (and otherwise integrative) study begins with the first year Tutorial and can culminate with a Mentored Advanced Project, which often crosses disciplines. Beginning in 2005, the Expanding Knowledge Initiative (EKI) was implemented to further enhance interdisciplinary learning. Under the EKI we have enhanced the curriculum through appointments of specialists in Middle Eastern Religion and History, Neurophilosophy, Policy Studies, Spatial Analysis/Geography, Earth Systems Science/Geology, Film and Media Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and expect to make an appointment in Linguistics. Across the curriculum, Grinnell College faculty members have developed interdisciplinary and team-taught courses, including those addressing key EKI initiatives: Human Rights and Human Dignity, Environmental Challenges and Responses, and the new Policy Studies concentration.

Types of Interdisciplinary Study

Interdisciplinary majors, concentrations, Interdisciplinary Study Themes, collaboratively-taught and otherwise interdisciplinary courses, and interdisciplinary centers and programs provide students with a rich and coordinated opportunity to explore a significant issue from a range of disciplinary perspectives.

Students interested in an interdisciplinary major can propose an independent major or pursue Biological Chemistry; Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies; or General Science. The college offers 11 interdisciplinaryconcentrations in American Studies; East Asian Studies; Environmental Studies; Global Development; Latin American Studies; Linguistics; Neuroscience; Policy Studies; Russian, Central and East European Studies; Technology Studies; and Western European Studies. In planning their course of studies, students and their faculty advisors can refer to Interdisciplinary Study Themes to explore areas of interest, often of a highly timely nature, through courses and related programming offered by Grinnell’s interdisciplinary centers and programs and the Faulconer Gallery. This year’s Interdisciplinary Study Themes include African StudiesFilm and Media StudiesHuman RightsNationalism and MigrationPeace Studies, and Elections. Information about this year’s Study Themes and their co-curricular programming is located on this site and also in the Course Schedule, located on the Registrar’s web site.

Cross-listed, divisional, and interdivisional courses (such as CLS/HIS 255 “History of Ancient Greece” and HUM 140 “Medieval and Renaissance Culture,” and SCI/HUM 295 “Space, Time and Motion,” respectively) offer courses using two or more disciplinary approaches. A number of these courses are team-taught. Courses designated as “Humanities Core" employ traditional and contemporary approaches to the analysis of cultural texts, practices and media. More information about these kinds of interdisciplinary experiences is found in the course catalogue.

The interdisciplinary Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights; Center for the Humanities; Center for International Studies; Center for Prairie Studies; Wilson Program; Faulconer Gallery; and Peace Studies offer programming, courses, and community activities that cross the disciplines and explore within and without the classroom.

Click on the link to read more about the Expanding Knowledge Initiative 2005 (pdf)

Interdisciplinary Study Themes

African Studies

Overview

These courses and co-curricular connections promote the study of North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and African Diasporas, by helping current students to integrate course planning in African Studies and to connect their curricular design to off-campus study and post-graduate service, and by giving faculty opportunities for dialogue and collaboration. “African Studies” is by definition a diffuse designation, so this Interdisciplinary Study Theme is intended to provide a broad interdisciplinary framework in which students and faculty can develop mutual interests around issues such as race and ethnicity, gender, evolution, statehood, democracy, development, ecology, resource management, globalization, labor, poverty, human rights, conflict resolution, performance, narrative, identity, postcolonialism, and visual culture.

Participating Faculty Members

Shanna Benjamin, Vicki Bentley-Condit, David Campbell, Eric Carter, Lesley Delmenico, Bob Grey, Jan Gross, Susan Ireland, Peter Jacobson, Kathy Kamp, Suchi Kapila, Albert Lacson, Andrea Magermans, Michelle Nasser, Elizabeth Prevost (theme administrator), Monty Roper, Janet Seiz, Roger Vetter, Eliza Willis

Elections

Overview

In anticipation of the November 2012 U.S. elections and the nomination races preceding them, the Elections 2012 Interdisciplinary Study Theme brings together courses from across the curriculum to help frame and inform our understanding of these contests. Included are courses on American politics, economics and public policy, international relations and international economics, history, technology and food. Further enriching these courses are Rosenfield symposia and visitors to campus, both of which will intersect with the curricular offerings. And this interdisciplinary study theme will encourage members of the Grinnell College community to engage in political activity, but to recognize, as well, the valuable learning potential involved in listening to divergent voices and in observing first-hand processes and contests in which they may not be actively involved.

Events

Two already-scheduled Rosenfield symposia - one on social justice, the other on the financial crisis - will intersect with the theme. Further informing the theme include a Scholars' Convocation on September 29, 2011, by Karl Gerth ("Can China Save the World Twice?"), and speakers on imigration and journalism. Faulconer Gallery will host two pertinent exhibitions in fall 2011, one devoted to Chinese proaganda posters, and one on Chinese Print Making. Additionally, the College's Program in Practical Political Education (PPPE), with a rich history of helping to structure partisan political debate and activity, will encourage the community to reflect on the past and to experience the politics of the present.

We will be updating our list of events throughout the year, particularly as we learn candidates' schedules.

Courses

Faculty members have already expressed interest in connecting a variety of courses to the study theme. We expect to add more courses for the 2012-13 academic year.

Fall 2011

TUT 100 Food Choice (M. Levandoski)
TUT 100 The Politics of Sport and the Sport of Politics (T. Werner)
TUT 100 Watergate and Its Effect on U.S. Politics (V. Brown)
CHI/EAS 295 Some Chinese Food for Thought (J. Feng)
ECN 218 Gender and the Economy (I. Powell)
ECN 372 Economics of Development (I. Powell)
HIS 311 Politics in the Early American Republic (S. Purcell)
POL 250 The Politics of International Relations (W. Moyer)
POL 295 Technology and Politics (B. Trish)
POL 352 Advanced Seminar on U.S. Foreign Policy (W. Moyer)
POL 395 Corporate Power and Democracy (T. Werner)

Spring 2012

ECN 111 Introduction to Economics (I. Powell)
HIS 295 China's Rise (M. Johnson)
HIS 371 Propaganda! Political Persuasion and Communication in the Modern World (M. Johnson)
POL 329 The Presidency (B. Trish)
POL 250 The Politics of International Relations (W. Moyer)
POL 295 Collective Action in American Politics (T. Werner)

Fall 2012 and Spring 2013

POL 216 Politics of Congress (T. Werner)
POL 237 Political Parties (or POL 295 Technology and Politics) (B. Trish)
POL 239 The Presidency (B. Trish)

Links

Coming Soon

Film and Media Studies

Overview

Film is a significant contemporary medium of aesthetic, social, and political representation. It is at once a business, an industry, and an art form, which has played a vital role in modern thought and culture. Familiarity with the cultural, aesthetic and economic contexts of film and media enables students to develop skills that are fundamental to negotiating life saturated in image-based media. Film and Media Studies offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of film and media through a body of courses that expose students to the cultural, social and aesthetic implications of this art form. A wide array of courses is now being offered to provide a deeper understanding of film both as an artistic medium with specific formal properties, as well as a cultural artifact originating from a social, political, historical, and economic context. Further enriching this theme are the Cultural Film Series and visiting speakers.

Associated Speakers and Events

The Cultural Film series is designed to complement some of the courses listed in the document above.

Participating Faculty Members

Todd Armstrong, Lesley Delmenico, Tim Dobe, Theresa Geller (theme administrator), Katya Gibel Mevorach, Mirzam Handal, Susan Ireland, Lakesia Johnson, Dan Reynolds, Mervat Youssef

Human Rights Studies

Overview

These courses examine the relationship of Human Rights and Human Dignity to issues of justice, development, politics, and technology. Several offerings encourage students to consider the definitions "Human Rights" and "Human Dignity" in relation to the environment, health and illness, poverty, artistic expression, and reproduction. Students will be encouraged to examine a variety of theoretical perspectives but also to engage with case-studies of international Human Rights violations and efforts to protect Human Rights. Politics, economics, development, social movements, peace-keeping efforts, and violence also form areas of interest in Human Rights courses.

Associated Speakers and Events

In addition to these courses, the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs and Human Rights coordinates a variety of speakers and co-curricular activities related to course themes.

Participating Faculty Members

Todd Armstrong, Victoria Brown, Eric Carter, Jin Feng, Brigittine French, Chris Hunter, Kent McClelland, Wayne Moyer (theme co-administrator), Elizabeth Prevost, Sarah Purcell (theme co-administrator), Liz Queathem, Monty Roper, Kathleen Skerrett, Maria Tapias, Mervat Youssef

Nationalism and Migration:  Histories, Policies, and Experiences Studies

Overview

This theme explores the ways that nations have defined themselves in relationship to the influx (or exodus) of large groups of people. Questions of immigrant identities, citizenship, national ‘heritage’, migrant rights, and the experience of exile are central to this Interdisciplinary Study Theme. These questions also have a local resonance, shown by the political and social discussion occurring in Iowa about migrant communities and the abuse of undocumented workers. This group hopes to use both local and international events as a way of creating a campus conversation about migration as a social process, while also featuring student and faculty work on the topic.

Participating Faculty Members

Victoria Brown, David Cook-Martin (theme co-administrator), Lesley Delmenico, Terri Geller, Katya Gibel Mevorach, Rebecca Hamlin, David Harrison (theme co-administrator), Susan Ireland, Andrea Magermans, Deborah Michaels, Gemma Sala.

Peace and conflict Studies

Overview

Understanding conflict and transformative possibilities for addressing conflict are peace building skills that are applicable across disciplines—-in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Peace and Conflict Studies provides a lens for understanding social change and upheaval, violence against humanity such as genocide, violations of human dignity, the impact of environmental, economic, political, and social decisions, and the critical role of identity and trauma in human interaction. The Peace and Conflict Studies Interdisciplinary Study Theme facilitates incorporation of this lens into courses and guide students in applying these concepts to particular cases which could be on an interpersonal, community, or global level.

Associated Speakers and Events

In spring 2011, Peace Studies has invited Professor Sudarshan Seneviratne from the University of Peredeniya in Kandy, Sri Lanka Department of Archeology and former head of the Central Cultural Fund to speak on the role of archeology in shaping national identity, its role in both creating and resolving ethnic conflict, and possibilities for creating a multicultural identity.

Related Programs

This Interdisciplinary Study Theme is administered by Peace Studies program, which regularly offers not-for-credit conflict resolution trainings, brings speakers to campus, and sponsors events that directly relate to the focus of the Peace and Conflict Studies IST. In fall 2010, there will be a 28-hour professional mediation training offered during fall break for students, and, space permitting, interested staff or faculty.

Participating Faculty Members

Todd Armstrong, Victoria Brown, Krista Bywater, Lesley Delmenico, Brigittine French, Chris Hunter, Peter Jacobson, Suchi Kapila, Leslie Lyons, Elaine Marzluff, Jenny Michaels, Wayne Moyer, Srdja Popovic, Elizabeth Prevost, Sarah Purcell, Monty Roper, Craig Upright, Timothy Werner, Eliza Willis, Shawn Womack, Mervat Youssef.

Anyone interested in being affiliated with the Peace and Conflict Studies IST or the Peace Studies steering committee should contact the Coordinator, Val Vetter <vetterv[at]grinnell[dot]edu> or the chair of the committee, Professor Brigittine French <French[at]grinnell[dot]edu>.

EKI Resources for Faculty

Defining Interdisciplinarity

Defining Interdisciplinarity for Grinnell College

The Expanding Knowledge Initiative challenges us to explore what exactly is meant by interdisciplinary teaching and research. This is a term that is defined variously, even on our own campus. Furthermore, however it is defined, interdisciplinarity is a moving target as disciplines gradually expand into new areas of inquiry and adopt as their own some of the theories of other disciplines and as areas of study that developed outside of traditional disciplines develop their own distinctive methodologies and theoretical base.

The College community will have to develop an understanding of the term that best supports the goals of the Expanding Knowledge Initiative, best serves our students, and contributes to the vitality of our teaching and research. Such an understanding will emerge from discussions, collaborative work among faculty from different disciplines, and from exploring different models for teaching. Already, a number of you have begun to posit some definitions. These have emerged in conversations, in the Common Grounds lunches, and in the department and concentration responses to the EKI questions that we posed a few weeks ago.

Over the next couple of semesters, we intend to provide some structured opportunities for College faculty members to explore the meaning of interdisciplinarity. You may find useful IDS_terms.doc resource manual by Carolyn Haynes, Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Miami University in Ohio, of different kinds of scholarship that reach beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries. We believe that these definitions can serve as a starting point for our own discussions. Follow this link to a PDF file of the full text of Haynes's manual.

Environmental Challenges and Responses Invitation

Environmental Challenges and Responses

The Advisory Board of the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies invites faculty members to explore curricular development and possible EKI faculty appointments that support topics related to "Environmental Challenges and Responses." The Advisory Board expects that expanding our offerings in topics related to this area will entail a combination of existing faculty members offering new courses and the appointment of new faculty members bringing pertinent expertise and/or freeing up existing faculty members to develop and teach these courses. Topics related to the broad area of "Environmental Challenges and Responses" include:

  • Cultural and artistic responses
  • Energy
  • Environmental policy
  • Ethics
  • Public health
  • Resource distribution and consumption
  • Sustainability and sustainability science

In addition to the topics listed above, proposals for other related topics are welcome.

Interest in this topic is considerable, and at the Nov. 8th Common Grounds Lunch, participants asked for a virtual location where they could share their ideas and interests related to this area.

Interested faculty, students, and staff members are welcome to join our pweb site, where you can identify your interests, share materials (properly copyrighted, of course!) and form groups for developing courses, identifying issues of interest to the campus community, and explore the possibility of EKI faculty positions. This site is open to the campus community, and monitored by the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies.

Attachments: Environmental Challenges and Responses Invitation.pdf

Faculty Development Resources (Support for Teaching and Research)

Resources for Faculty

The Dean's Office provides resources for faculty development. Below are some of the resources (consult the Dean's Office site for more information most relevent to EKI-related efforts).

  • Guidelines for stipends and other support for EKI course dev_0.pdf
  • Instructional Support Committee
  • Teaching and Learning Colloquia - The Office of Interdisciplinary Studies will offer a number of faculty-led discussions of issues related to interdisciplinary teaching and models for teaching interdisciplinary courses.
  • Faculty-to-Faculty Tutorials: There is support for tutorials and mentorships with other Grinnell faculty or with faculty from participating institutions. You might also think about auditing a colleague's course.
  • HHMI - Grants available to Science Division faculty, providing course relief in order to audit a colleague's course in a different specialty.
  • New Directions Fellowship - Grants available to faculty within three years of tenure or tenured faculty in the humanities or social sciences who have a research interest that would require formal training in a discipline other than the one in which they are expert.
  • Mellon Faculty Career Enhancement
    • Common Interest Workshops- organized among the member colleges of the ACM and addressing issues shared by several of the institutions
    • Mellon Faculty Workshops
  • Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship Program and Consortium for Faculty Diversity These two programs can help individuals and departments by bringing new scholars to campus for one or two years. Departments can take advantage of the courses taught by post-doctoral and dissertation fellows to free up individuals interested in teaching an interdisciplinary course. Other options are to team-teach with a fellow as a way of gaining expertise in a new area, and having the fellow provide advice on how to incorporate a new area in the department's or concentration's offerings. CFD fellows offer one to two courses per year (depending on whether they are dissertation or post-doctoral fellows), which can provide similar course release
Interdisciplinary Book Shelf

Interdisciplinary Book Shelf (most recent additions in blue)

Brand, Stewart. 1987. The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT. Viking Penguin.

Case, Evan; Coriden, Torrey; Page, Lauren, Lopatto MAP paper Interdiscipinarity Definition and Plan.pdf

Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy. 2004. Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research. National Academies Press.

Davis, James R. 1995. Interdisciplinary Courses and Team Teaching: New Arrangements for Learning. Arizona: American Council on Education/Oryx Series.

Edwards, A.F. 1996. Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Programs: A Directory. MA: Copley.

Haynes, Carolyn ed. 2002. Innovations in Interdisciplinary Teaching. American Council on Education/Oryx Series.

1990. Interdisciplinarity: History, Theory, and Practice. Detroit: Wayne State UP.

Klein, Julie Thompson Mapping Interdisciplinary Studies. Wash. DC: AACU 1999

Humanities, Culture, and Interdisciplinarity. NY: SUNY 2005

Klein, Julie Thompson and Newell, William H.. "Advancing Interdisciplinary Studies." In Gaff and Ratcliff, eds. 1997. Handbook of the Undergraduate Curriculum, 393-415.

Mansilla, Veronica Boix, "Assessing Student Work at Disciplinary Crossroads," Change (January/February ) 2005: 14-21)

McDonald, Michael R. and Tolley, S. Gregory: Issues in Integrative Studies 2002 "Assessment, Outcomes and Forays in Interdisciplinary Curriculum Development

Electronic Resources

AIS: Association for Integrative Studies

Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies

Stanford Humanities Lab

HASTAC: Humanities, Arts, Sciences, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory

Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching: Intergrative Learning Project

Fostering Integrative Learning though the Curriculum (PDF)
Author: Mary Taylor Huber, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

Fostering Integrative Learning through Assessment (PDF)
Author: Ross Miller, Association of American Colleges and Universities

Fostering Intergrative Learning through Faculty Development (PDF)
Author: Pat Hutchings, The Carnegie Foudnation for the Advancement of Teaching

Interdisciplinary Studies Reports

Reports

Operational Interdisciplinarity Definition and Assessment Plan

Interdisciplinarity: An Operational Definition and Assessment Plan

Please click to open PDF file

Lopatto MAP paper Interdiscipinarity Definition and Plan.pdf

EKI Courses 2010-2011 and other Attachments

EKI Resources For Students

The Expanding Knowledge Initiative is designed to enrich the reach of the College's curriculum and intellectual focus by exposing students to emerging areas of knowledge beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries and increasing opportunities for integrative, capstone, and inquiry-based learning. The opportunities mapped on this website exist to help you draw connections across the wide range of your studies, what you learn in and out of the classroom, while in Grinnell and abroad.

First Year Tutorials

Every entering student explores in some depth a topic of interest to the student and the instructor, in a small group and an informal setting.  Topics range widely from deforestation in the Amazonia to story-telling in Marguerite of Navarre's Heptameron.  Although not all Tutorial sections progress in exactly the same way, most include an introduction to college-level writing, oral presentation and discussion, critical analysis, and information literacy.  Many of the tutorials take an interdisciplinary approach to a question, problem, or point of interest.  Some, like "Paper-making a Studio Approach" and "Studio Art: a Chemistry Approach" share a theme and organize occasional joint meetings.

Interdisciplinary Courses and Concentrations

There are several different routes that students interested in pursuing interdisciplinary study can take. Students can supplement a major disciplinary field of study with work in one of the concentrations; take courses in a wide-range of interdisciplinary courses as a part of a Plan of Study constructed with an adviser; or, again working with an adviser and the Dean, design an independent major that combines study in two disciplinary fields, or creates a course of study based on a theme or question that crosses fields or majors. The course of study must be planned with and approved by the student's adviser and the Dean's Office.

Interdisciplinary and other EKI Courses 2010-2011

Co-Curricular Activities 

One of the goals of interdisciplinary education is to provide some methods and occasions to integrate the wide-range of learning and experiential education that takes place out of the classroom or in non-traditional classrooms. Talk with your adviser about how off-campus study,internships, and social commitments could complement traditional academic studies at Grinnell and contribute crucial interdisciplinary and integrative elements.  Grinnell's interdisciplinary Center (International Studies, Prairie Studies, and Humanities), programs (Rosenfield, Peace Studies), and the Faulconer Gallery organize speakers and events that cross disciplines to explore particular subjects.

Second Year Retreat

This retreat for second year students provides an opportunity to reflect on your academic and life goals, to review what you are doing and to think about what you want to do next, to reconnect with each other, professors and staff members, and to make some new connections too.  It will encourage you to think about how the things that you do in college-studies, extra-curricular activities (from sports to music to community service), off-campus study and internships, and summer jobs-can build on each other.  We hope that you will find it fun, useful, a little bit unsettling, and energizing.

Types of Interdisciplinary Study

Interdisciplinary majors, concentrations, Interdisciplinary Study Themes, collaboratively-taught and otherwise interdisciplinary courses, and interdisciplinary centers and programs provide students with a rich and coordinated opportunity to explore a significant issue from a range of disciplinary perspectives.

Students interested in an interdisciplinary major can propose an independent major or pursue Biological Chemistry; Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies; or General Science. The college offers 11 interdisciplinaryconcentrations in American Studies; East Asian Studies; Environmental Studies; Global Development; Latin American Studies; Linguistics; Neuroscience; Policy Studies; Russian, Central and East European Studies; Technology Studies; and Western European Studies. In planning their course of studies, students and their faculty advisors can refer to Interdisciplinary Study Themes to explore areas of interest, often of a highly timely nature, through courses and related programming offered by Grinnell’s interdisciplinary centers and programs and the Faulconer Gallery. This year’sInterdisciplinary Study Themes include African Studies, Film and Media Studies, Human Rights, Nationalism and Migration, Peace Studies, and Elections. Information about this year’s Study Themes and their co-curricular programming is located on this site and also in the Course Schedule, located on the Registrar’s web site.

Cross-listed, divisional, and interdivisional courses (such as CLS/HIS 255 “History of Ancient Greece” and HUM 140 “Medieval and Renaissance Culture,” and SCI/HUM 295 “Space, Time and Motion,” respectively) offer courses using two or more disciplinary approaches. A number of these courses are team-taught. Courses designated as “Humanities Core" employ traditional and contemporary approaches to the analysis of cultural texts, practices and media. More information about these kinds of interdisciplinary experiences is found in the course catalogue.

The interdisciplinary Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights; Center for the Humanities; Center for International Studies; Center for Prairie Studies; Wilson Program; Faulconer Gallery; and Peace Studies offer programming, courses, and community activities that cross the disciplines and explore within and without the classroom.