School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences

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Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences is an evolving, culturally relevant course of study grounded in a respect for diversity and responsive to the needs and desires of the communities around us. We create an atmosphere in which we promote academic excellence by encouraging students to think, write and speak in ways that enhance their own development, their sense of community and their ability to deal with problems of injustice and equality, as well as their dedication to positive change.

The School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences consists of five divisions:

  • Culture, Arts & Communication
  • Politics, Philosophy & Public Affairs
  • Sciences & Mathematics
  • Social, Behavioral & Human Sciences
  • Social & Historical Studies

About the Curriculum

The School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences curriculum is a program of study in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. The focus of the curriculum is the comparative study of peoples, groups, societies, cultures and environments within the United States and selected regions of the world. To provide an interdisciplinary and comparative basis for the study of different groups, societies and cultures, the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences curriculum is organized around three general dimensions: Culture and Ideas (Fine Arts and Humanities), Society and the Individual (Social Sciences) and The Natural World (Natural Sciences).

The goals of the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences curriculum are to help students:

  • Develop proficiency in skills such as writing and critical thinking that are needed for productive careers and gain mastery of a broad curriculum in the humanities, social sciences and environmental science
  • Achieve knowledge of the theories, concepts and methods of cross-cultural analysis
  • Understand the complexity of relations between groups, societies, cultures and natural environments, the history of these relations and the forces of social change
  • Gain a knowledge and appreciation of cultures other than their own while exploring the expression of cultural identity, thought and beliefs through literature and the other arts
  • Build experience in the analysis of environmental issues and their scientific basis

Independent Study Courses

Independent study courses are intended for students to do advanced work in a special area of study normally not offered in the regular curriculum. Students may enroll in these courses only after receiving written permission from the instructor who has agreed to supervise the student’s work. A total of no more than 15 credits of internships, senior thesis, directed readings and undergraduate research may be applied toward the bachelor of arts degree requirements. (A maximum of 10 credits of internships may count toward the bachelor of arts degree.)

Study Abroad

The School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences faculty lead a number of study-abroad trips each year to places like Cuba, Mexico, China, Costa Rica, Italy, Russia, the United Kingdom  and the Far East. Students tour museums, visit historical sites, learn about art and culture, study language, attend lectures and workshops, carry out research projects and experience daily life in a different culture. These programs range in length from one week to one month, and satisfy requirements in numerous majors.

For details, visit the International Programs website at tacoma.uw.edu/travel or talk to an academic or faculty advisor.