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Willamette University

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Salem, Oregon 97301

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Interdisciplinary Studies 

The Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS) designation provides a curricular home for courses which move beyond the boundaries of traditional disciplines and which are taught beyond the boundaries of the Willamette University campus. Courses in Interdisciplinary Studies include the required Freshman Seminar, a wide variety of interdisciplinary junior- and senior-level courses, the Presidential Scholars Program, and courses taken on foreign study.

The IDS designation identifies on-campus or post-session courses that are characteristically interdisciplinary in orientation and are often taught by faculty drawn from several departments. This multi-perspective way of thinking prepares students to solve problems on the job and in other settings.

The FSTD (Foreign Study) designation is given to course credit earned through twenty-three Willamette University-sponsored international education experiences, including programs in England, Chile, France, Japan, Spain, Germany, Ecuador, and Ukraine. Titles and descriptions of these courses vary and are available on request.


The Interdisciplinary Studies Area faculty is drawn from all departments of the College of Liberal Arts and varies from semester to semester depending on course offerings.

Course Listings

IDS 103X Wallulah (Yearbook) (.25)

This course provides credit for creating Willamette's yearbook, the Wallulah, and teaches students about all aspects of the yearbook, including photography, layout and design and journalistic writing. Students are responsible for meeting during class time, but much of the work is performed outside of class. No previous yearbook experience or class requisites are required.

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Long, Maynard

IDS 105 Transition to College Learning (.25)

In this course, students will learn practical applications of the developmental psychology literature of Erikson, Perry and Chickering as it relates to young adult experiences during college years; psychological research on memory function as it relates to studying, reading and test-taking; and the psychological research on group processes and cultural differences as it relates to classroom and campus environments. Specific topics will include organizational skills, goal-setting, time management and memory enhancement.

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Loers, Miller-Moe

IDS 123 (W) World Views: The Making of the Modern World (1)

A writing-centered seminar course designed to explore the constitution of a world view and its relationship to the modern world. Interdisciplinary in focus, emphasizing critical discussion and critical writing, the course will draw upon the varying approaches to inquiry within the University. The course will provide an understanding of the sources of contemporary modes of thought and the ways we develop a concept of ourselves. Required of all entering freshmen.

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Staff

IDS 130 Cultural Awareness (.5)

Focus is on cultural identity and on contemporary issues relating to the values and goals of diverse cultural groups. An emphasis also will be on examining and getting beyond prejudice and institutionalized racism. Supplementary readings, guest speakers, participation in campus cultural and intellectual life provide the format of the course.

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Staff

IDS 135 (CA; W) Interdisciplinary Performance Workshop (1)

Students in this course explore different aspects of performance through the use of awareness and movement disciplines, including the Alexander Technique and Authentic Movement. No previous performance experience is required; students engage in whatever medium (music, acting, dramatic reading, improvised movement) most interests them. Emphasis is placed on the anatomy of movement and on the role that awareness plays in the creative process from conception to realization in all performing disciplines.

Mode of Inquiry: Creating in the Arts

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: King

IDS 140 (NW) Introduction to Cognitive Science (1)

Cognitive science focuses on how people, animals and machines come to be intelligent. It is an interdisciplinary field at the interface of psychology, linguistics, computer science, anthropology, philosophy, and neuroscience. This introductory, lab-based course explores the origins, methodologies, accomplishments, and current controversies associated with this rapidly emerging field, thus challenging students to think critically yet creatively about this new approach to investigating mind, brain, and behavior.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding the Natural World

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Stewart

IDS 165 Journalistic Writing (.5 credit)

This course will introduce students to the basics of journalistic writing. Topics will include story structure, news analysis, research, grammar, editorial columns and interviewing. Some attention will also be given to libel, journalistic ethics and layout.

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Hughes

IDS 202 Convocation: Reflecting on Campus, Community and Cosmos (.5)

An action and reflection seminar resulting in the production of the University Convocation each week of the semester. Students will research issues that academia can and should address and invite to the University Convocation public intellectuals and artists who can speak to an educated general audience of students, faculty, staff and local citizens. Reading, discussions, conversations with faculty and community leaders will lead to the planning, publicizing, presiding and hosting of the University Convocation series.

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Wallace

IDS 220 (AR; NW) The Body in Science and Society (1)

This class will use exemplars from the history of anatomy, physiology, and medicine to examine the intellectual processes that underlie science as a way of understanding the world. In addition, students will be introduced to paradigms for making reasoned judgments about the moral consequences associated with various advances in human biological science.

Mode of Inquiry: Analyzing Arguments, Reasons, and Values; Understanding the Natural World

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Harmer

IDS 230 (US) Rites of Passage in Japan and the United States (1)

This course focuses on the events of birth, marriage, and death as they are socially construed by way of symbols, rituals, and myths. Initially, attention is directed to theoretical foundations and the constructs of symbol, ritual and myth themselves. Readings are drawn from anthropology, communication studies, linguistics, and sociology. Thereafter, focus turns to each of the events-birth, marriage, and death-and the ways that various cultures make them meaningful. The constructs examined earlier in the term are applied to selected case studies from Japan and the United States.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society

  • Offering: Alternate falls
  • Instructor: Douglass and TIUA Staff

IDS 321 (AR) Ethics in the American Tradition (1)

The aim of this interdisciplinary course is to address the institutional structures which define American society and shape our ability to make responsible ethical decisions. The course will begin with an analysis of current American values, broadly defined, and will conclude with a study of the major ethical systems which are attempting to respond, through these issues, to the decisions which confront us in the modern world. Several case studies will be conducted to test the implications of these ethical systems and the options they pose for corporate ethics.

Mode of Inquiry: Analyzing Arguments, Reasons, and Values

Prerequisite: Junior/Senior standing or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: McGaughy

IDS 322 (IT) The Idea of Europe (1)

This course will examine the emergence and development of cultural identities in Europe, with a particular focus on the emergence and development of a conception of "Europe" and "European" from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. In order to understand these notions more clearly, it will be pertinent to study what was NOT Europe/European throughout this same time period.

Mode of Inquiry: Interpreting Texts

  • Offering: Alternate years in fall or spring
  • Instructor: DeLeonibus

IDS 325 (W) Field Studies in Hawaii (1)

A field course consisting of lectures and field trips which will touch on the following topics related to Hawaii: description of the islands and the causes of the present appearance based upon geological, biological, sociological and cultural information. Special emphasis will be placed on the geological formation, biological aspects (present distributions and the origins of the flora and fauna) and present major activities (i.e., sugar cane, pineapple and tourism industries; environmental quality control; methods of preserving and maintaining original habitat and culture). Some aspects of the immediate marine environment will also be investigated.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

  • Offering: Post-session
  • Instructor: Goodney, Rose, Thorsett

IDS 327 (AR; W) The American Story and the Legacy of Vietnam (1)

Language has become a problem in the modern world: its expanding role as a means of global communication has, at the same time, accented the barriers to human understanding posed by competing ideologies concealed within languages. As a result, power, rather than argument or persuasion, has become the normal means for achieving national and personal ends. This seminar addresses, through selected case studies, the relationship of language and power in the American tradition and their impact on politics and ethics. The Vietnam War is offered as a case study.

Mode of Inquiry: Analyzing Arguments, Reasons, and Values

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

  • Offering: Alternate years in spring
  • Instructor: Collins, McGaughy

IDS 329 Mythology and Symbolism (1)

This seminar explores how symbols found in myths, legends, rituals and dreams relate to key developmental transitions in the human life cycle: birth, puberty, young adulthood, mid-life and death. Symbolic expression is examined at both a cultural level (a comparative study of contemporary symbolism in Anglo, Native American and Eastern cultures) and at an individual level (i.e., one’s own creative symbolism, especially in dreams). A major focus will be on how knowledge gleaned through these Modes of Inquiry can enhance the ability to make decisions that affect one’s own and others’ personal development

Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

  • Offering: Alternate years in fall
  • Instructor: Fischer

IDS 330 (W) Science Studies (1)

This course analyzes the scientific enterprise. We shall see how different disciplines from the humanities and social sciences (history, philosophy, sociology and anthropology) can be used to illuminate different aspects of science. Topics include: logical positivism, the social construction of scientific knowledge, interest theory, entity realism, skills and practices in science, gender and science and ethnomethodological approaches to studying science. Previous knowledge of a science is helpful.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Jackson

IDS 331 Religion and Science (1)

Relation of religious and scientific perspectives: the historic and philosophical tensions between the Christian tradition and the natural and social sciences and the ways of mutual clarification of these perspectives in the 20th-century.

  • Offering: Alternate years, Fall
  • Instructor: McGaughey

IDS 332 Mysticism and Creativity (1)

An exploration of Eastern and Western mystical traditions as expressed in literature and other arts. Students will explore their own creative and spiritual experiences by writing a series of personal, reflective essays.

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: G. Bowers

IDS 336 (W; 4th Sem Lang Req) Field Studies in Ecuador: A Perspective on Latin America (1)

A post-session field studies course centered in Ecuador at several geographical locations and focusing on topics related to the natural sciences, language and culture, the arts, sociology and political science. Emphasis will be on a historical and modern approach to study of the interrelationships among indigenous and Spanish-speaking groups, the interaction between culture and environment and the tremendous biological and geological diversity in Ecuador. It will also explore the impact of development, economics and land reform on the environment and its people.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered; Fourth Semester Language Requirement

  • Offering: Post-session
  • Instructor: Staff

IDS 343 Field Studies in Chicago (1)

This is a four-week off-campus program. It employs readings as well as guided tours of different racial and ethnic communities, the commercial centers, architecture and museums; explorations of the visual arts, music, theater; a service learning internship; and a seminar to investigate and reflect upon the complexity, diversity and problems confronting modern urban America from an interdisciplinary perspective. Arrangements are supported by the Urban Life Center in Chicago.

  • Offering: Post-session
  • Instructor: Staff

IDS 346 (W) Nonviolence, Peace Movements and Social Activism (1)

This seminar will draw upon the liberal arts perspective of each of its participants to study methods of achieving social change and promoting peace. Readings will be assigned from primary and secondary sources about the major nonviolent social activities of the last century. Particular attention will be paid to such modern proponents as Susan B. Anthony, Jane Addams, Bertrand Russell, Ghandi, King, Saul Alinsky, Dorothy Day and Thich Nhat Hanh. The theological and philosophical bases for their beliefs and actions will be examined.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered

  • Offering: Alternate years in Spring
  • Instructor: Hall

IDS 347 Chemistry, Economics and the Environment (1)

A case study approach to environmental issues, considering both the technological and economic perspectives on causes and solutions. Issues considered may include acid rain, ozone depletion, global warming and toxic wastes.

Prerequisite: A course in Chemistry and a course in Economics

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Goodney

IDS 350 (US) The Sociology of Science (1)

The course analyzes the role sociology has played over the past four decades in elucidating the scientific enterprise. We shall explore the impact of institutions on research, the role of social interests in science and the importance of skills and practices in the scientific enterprise.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Jackson

IDS 351 (W) Culture of Ancient Greece (1)

A postsession course in Greece which includes field trips to museums and key archaeological sites to complement lectures and readings in the archaeology, culture, history, and rhetoric of ancient Greece. Examination of the geographical and cultural milieu of the classical Greek tradition as revealed in the art, architecture, and artifacts will enhance understanding of the rhetorical tradition exemplified in texts by Demosthenes, Aristotle, and Plato.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

  • Offering: Post-session
  • Instructor: Clark, Collins

IDS 355 An Introduction to Opera (1)

Major works of European and American musical drama studied in their literary, theatrical and musical contexts. This course aims to enhance understanding and appreciation of opera through the study of libretti (playscripts), audio and video recordings and several live performances of great operas. No previous musical training assumed.

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Staff

IDS 356 Studies in Cuba (1)

The program runs as an intersession and as a post-session and it focuses on a course entitled Introduction to Contemporary Cuba at the prestigious University of Havana. The course presents the political, social and economic history of Cuba with a particular emphasis on the period since 1898. There are two sections of the course, one for students fluent in Spanish and another for those lacking language fluency. The program also involves field trips in Havana and its environs.

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Staff

IDS 421 (IT) Studies in Florence (1)

A post-session seminar in Florence, a city of fundamental importance in the history of great art and literature. On-site, interdisciplinary discussion of art and writing by Florentines or by foreigners in Florence. Offered every third year from mid-May to mid-June (four weeks).

Prerequisite: One university-level credit in art history or literature. Open to freshmen.

Mode of Inquiry: Interpreting Texts

  • Offering: Post-session
  • Instructor: Hull

IDS 423 (W) Literature of Natural Science (1)

A study of scientific communication through the reading of classic texts in the sciences. Authors such as Galileo, Newton, Darwin and Einstein will be analyzed to investigate scientific content and literary form.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

Prerequisite: Junior/Senior standing; one previous course in Literature and Natural Science preferred

  • Offering: Alternate years in spring
  • Instructor: Goodney, Long

IDS 499 Presidential Scholars Program (1-4)

The Presidential Scholars Program permits selected seniors the opportunity to complete a substantial project of study, research, or creative work that will contribute to their academic growth. The Undergraduate Grants and Awards Committee selects scholars annually from the junior class on the basis of the strength of their proposed project, record of academic achievement, intellectual caliber, and independence of character. Presidential Scholars' projects will consist of a maximum of four credits in total, no more than three credits in a single semester.

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Staff