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Interdisciplinary Studies

Interdisciplinary Studies Major

Asian Studies


Course Descriptions


Director, Jeffry Davis

Interdisciplinary Studies Major

The Interdisciplinary Studies major promotes the educational goals of Christian liberal arts learning, emphasizing the importance of becoming a whole human being who can integrate knowledge from various disciplines and express it with critical understanding, creative skill, and redemptive purpose. Students who become IDS majors complete their undergraduate education in an unconventional way, designing a unique “program of study” (POS). Each POS (personal or pre-set) integrates selected coursework from various disciplines.

For the personal option, the IDS major must submit a final version of the program of study that specifies upper-divisional course work from any two or three of the College’s existing academic majors, which must be approved by the IDS program director and IDS Faculty Committee. Thereafter, the program of study may not be altered by the student without the expressed written approval of the IDS program director. The program of study should be informed by the student’s “guiding directives,” which serve to clarify the rationale for the IDS major’s integrative work. The guiding directives include, 1) examining a worthwhile problem, 2) asking a central question pertaining to the problem, and 3) exploring a theme related to the problem. The guiding directives establish the basis for the student’s choice of courses listed in the program of study. Courses selected for the program of study must be thematically congruous and reflect the ideal of a coherent, integrated whole. The culmination of the IDS major’s program of study will be the IDS research project, which will require the student to complete qualitative or quantitative research and writing on a topic related to the specified program of study. This final project will be completed in the IDS Senior Seminar, presented to peers, and evaluated by two faculty members knowledgeable about the topic. IDS majors often focus their projects on central issues pertaining to the arts, social sciences (including urban studies), humanities, natural sciences, HNGR, communication, modern culture, social policy, and the health professions, to name a few.

Interested students may apply to the IDS program after attaining 30 credit hours; no student may apply after the fourth week of the fourth semester prior to graduation. All applicants must complete a three-part application comprised of a questionnaire (including student personality profile, short answer questions, and tentative program of study, with courses approved by faculty designates from each of the majors represented), a personal interview with the IDS program director, and three brief essays. The completed application will then be submitted to the IDS administrative assistant by the scheduled deadline (near the end of each quad) and evaluated by the IDS Faculty Committee, represented by the IDS director and various faculty across the disciplines. Students will then be informed of their standing. Candidates should understand that the application process is rigorous, and the IDS program is selective. Students are allowed to apply only twice to the program.

Students who complete an Interdisciplinary Studies major are granted a Bachelor of Arts degree unless they request a Bachelor of Science degree and meet the following criteria:

*       If the student chooses the two-discipline option, one of the disciplines must be in a field that offers a B.S. degree.

*       If the student chooses the three-discipline option, two of the disciplines must be in a field that offers a B.S. degree.


Requirements for an Interdisciplinary Studies major are 36 hours beyond all general education requirements, including a minimum of 12 upper-division hours from each of any two academic disciplines OR eight upper-division hours from each of any three academic disciplines, in addition to IDS 291: Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies (2 hours—only offered fall semester), IDS 494: Senior Seminar (4 hours—only offered spring semester), and 6 hours of electives. One of the upper-division courses must be approved as an integrative or bridge course, clearly linking the chosen disciplines in the program of study. Internship hours do not apply directly towards the major. .

In addition to the personal program of study option, students may choose from two pre-set programs of study: one in Asian Studies and the other in Biotechnology. Both are described below. Additional information is available from the IDS director.

IDS Asian Studies Program of Study (POS)

The IDS Asian Studies pre-set POS provides an academic focus on a strategic region that is home to one-third of the world's population. Asia consists of diverse and rich cultural, religious, and intellectual traditions. Asia's dynamic economic and political institutions make it a major force today.

Asian Studies draws upon the expertise and courses relevant to Asia that are available at the College. It provides academic preparation for fields such as diplomatic service, education, missions, religious studies, business, international law, journalism, and history, as well as graduate school. In addition, Asian Studies encourages various summer programs to Asia and also the longer (one or two semesters) China Studies Program of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

Requirements for the Asian Studies POS are 36 hours beyond all general education requirements from the following three categories:

Core Courses: 12 hours including RELI 212 World Religions: Asia (2), PHIL 316 Asian Philosophy (2), HIST 334 East Asian History (4), and other approved courses (4). See the IDS director for a list of approved courses in this category.

*       Electives: 18 hours selected from such courses as RELI 364, HIST 362, 363; IR 357; B EC 331, ECON 366.
See the IDS director for a complete list of courses approved in this category.

*       IDS 291 (only offered in fall) and IDS 494: Senior Seminar (offered only in spring).


The requirements for a minor in Asian/American Studies are 20 hours, including six hours of HIST 334, 391; four or six hours from ENGL 285(if on an Asian topic) or PHIL 226; four or six hours from RELI 212, or 492; and four or six hours from B EC 331, ECON 366; IDS 495, HIST 362, 363.

IDS Biotechnology (POS)

The IDS Biotechnology pre-set POS examines salient issues pertaining to matters of human and scientific significance since the advent of genetic engineering. Biotechnology has far-reaching effects in all areas of fundamental biological research, as well as in agricultural, medical, environmental, and industrial applications.

The demand for individuals with knowledge and skill in the relevant areas in biology and chemistry is rapidly increasing. Pressing moral issues such as stem cell research, cloning, gene enhancement and therapies, ownership of human genetic information, and genetically engineered organisms await thoughtful Christian engagement. To face these challenges, Wheaton students can major in the IDS Biotechnology POS.

Requirements for the IDS Biotechnology POS are 36 hours beyond all general education requirements from the following:

*       Core Courses in Biology: BIOL 356: Genetics ; BIOL 364: Microbiology and Immunology; BIOL 375 Introduction to Bioinformatics

*       Core Courses in Chemistry: CHEM 341 & 342: Organic Chemistry I & II; and CHEM 461: General Biochemistry.

*       Core Courses in IDS: IDS 291: Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies; IDS 494: Senior Seminar (only offered in the spring). NOTE: An integrative project on biotechnology, in which students synthesize a position based on sound ethical and theological reasoning about a controversial issue in biotechnology, is required for this senior capstone course.

*       Suggested Electives: may be chosen from BIOL 317X: Biomedical Ethics (strongly recommended as the integrative or bridge course); BIOL 362: Cell and Developmental Biology; Independent research (BIOL 495 or CHEM 495); summer laboratory internship (BIOL 496 or CHEM 496); or a programming course in Computer Science.

*       The following General Education courses are also recommended: Old Testament: BITH 212, BITH 438; New Testament: BITH 214, BITH 462; Christian Thought: BITH 315; SI tagged course options: PSCI 145; PSYC 317; ECON 211.

Interdisciplinary Studies Major Courses (IDS)

IDS 291. Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies. An orientation to the increasingly important work of interdisciplinary thinking, this course is designed to encourage students to become holistic explorers of knowledge and to see the interdependent aspects of all academic disciplines and courses within a liberal arts college. (2)

IDS 494. Senior Seminar. This capstone course provides the Interdisciplinary Studies major the opportunity for integration by means of interaction with other IDS majors. The seminar requires full participation of students through daily reading, writing, speaking, and listening—conducted according to a central theme and common texts, drawing upon the students’ varied academic experiences. An integrative research project is mandatory—one that is qualitative, quantitative, or creative, depending upon the major’s program of study. Required of all IDS majors, and only offered in the spring semester, it should be taken just prior to graduation. (4)

IDS 495. Independent Study. A regimen of reading scholarly articles and writing abstract reviews is typical; however, this course also provides the IDS major with the opportunity for research to meet the individual’s needs and interests, as approved by the Interdisciplinary Studies director. IDS majors are strongly encouraged to take the IDS independent study prior to the IDS Senior Seminar, providing solid preparation for the final IDS project. (2)

IDS 496. Internship. Graded pass/fail. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing within the Interdisciplinary Studies major. (4 or 8)

Revision Date: June 1, 2017



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