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 interdisciplinary concentrations 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 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.