The active curiosity of a student cannot be confined within the narrow bounds of a single discipline. Youll see that in Parent Times articles: a biochemistry major who gives violin lessons; an engineering student who is interested in audio production; an accounting student double-majoring in art.
Over the past decade, Iowas curriculum has moved to reflect that reality, not only in undergraduate course work but also in the multitude of advanced research projects that cut across disciplinary and college lines.
The interdisciplinary undergraduate majors develop in the places where several existing majors overlap. For example, geology, geography, civil engineering, the biosciences, and chemistry are involved with questions of the environment. For years, students have taken relevant courses in these areas in order to adapt a major to their environmental interests.
Now Iowa has a major in environmental sciences. Its three tracks reflect the departments that came together to form itgeology, biological sciences, and geography. All tracks are based on a foundation of science courses, field study, and electives.
Environmental Biosciences, called the "Green Track": Graduating students gain a good understanding of biotic systems and biologic resources. With graduate or on-the-job training, they can apply this knowledge to positions in ecology, wildlife management, or natural resource management.
Environmental Hydrosciences, called the "Blue Track": Graduating students understand geological principles and have a working knowledge of hydrogeochemistry and hydrogeology. With graduate study, they can qualify for positions in geochemistry, hydrogeology, hydrology, or aqueous chemistry.
Environmental Geosciences, called the "Brown Track": Graduating students have a basic understanding of geological principles and concepts applied to the environmental industry. With further study, they qualify for positions in environmental geology, engineering geology, and environmental geosciences.
A second program, global studies, is now available as a major. Until two years ago, only students who qualified for honors could major in global studies. All students can now choose to study the way that political, social, environmental, health, and justice issues intersect in the world.
Global studies faculty members come from widely varying disciplines such as religion, physics, education, geography, journalism and mass communication, political science, law, and African American world studies.
The program explores four world challenges: war, peace, and security; development, health, and human resources; the environment and natural resources; and human rights and social justice.
Graduates of this program have found equally varying careers in international business and consulting firms, advocacy organizations, government, the World Bank, international or domestic law, secondary education, or refugee organizations. Here, too, many decide to go on for graduate training.
The College of Liberal Arts, which houses global studies and environmental sciences, has many other interdisciplinary majors, minors, and certificate programs. The Center for the Book includes faculty members in history, classics, communication studies, English, creative writing, and other areas, who explore the book as a cultural and historical artifact and an art form.
Liberal Arts interdisciplinary programs are: African American world studies; American Indian and native studies; American studies; Asian languages and literature; global health studies; Latin American studies; literature, science, and the arts; the philosophies and ethics of politics, law, and economics; Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies; sexuality studies; and womens studies.
While most interdisciplinary programs are in liberal arts, other colleges also have moved in that direction. A new Technological Entrepreneurship Certificate involves the Colleges of Business, Engineering, and Medicine.