General Information

College graduates enter a world of rapid change in which they will have to remake themselves several times during their working lives.  The days of remaining in the same career throughout one’s working life are past.  We want to give students at Woodbury, who are already a diverse group and driven to succeed when they step onto the campus, every possible advantage as they transform their energy and ambition into educational programs capable of meeting the challenges of the contemporary world. Experience has taught us that a transdisciplinary approach is the best way to accomplish this task. Woodbury, in fact, has a long history of teaching practices that encourage collaboration, social responsibility, and what we now discern as other emergent forms of transdisciplinary inquiry.

Our curriculum focuses on developing the intellectual capacity to seek out and appreciate different ways of living and experiencing the world, the interpersonal skills needed to work effectively both within and across cultures, and the ability to analyze, understand and create new ways of living and experiencing the world. Courses, majors and programs in the Institute of Transdisciplinary Studies prepare students with the skills for an array of careers and advanced degrees. All of our courses expose students to the knowledge, theories, ideas, and principles that have shaped society, technology, culture and the environment. Within the Institute, the emphasis is on active, experiential learning techniques designed to enhance the student’s capacity for independent creative thought and action.

The Institute of Transdisciplinary Studies houses two majors as well as numerous other departments and programs that educate all undergraduate students who attend the university. The majors, Interdisciplinary Studies and Politics & History, are designed as interdisciplinary degrees, the first self-directed, the second combining two closely related fields. The other departments, Art History, Mathematics, Sciences, and Writing, all provide essential elements of a university education, initiate efforts in transdisciplinary collaboration with other parts of the university, and oversee several programs that enrich and diversify our students’ experiences: Economics, Foreign Languages, Library Science, Literature, Philosophy, Personal and Professional Development, and Urban Studies. Finally, we host a number of programs that assist students in their academic success, from the writing center to pre-law advising, and collaborate and support the University’s Arid Lands Institute.


For more information about the Institute, contact the Dr. Douglas J. Cremer, Dean of the Institute, at douglas.cremer@woodbury.edu

Transdisciplinarity

Transdisciplinarity is all about challenge, to our selves, our society, our values, our practices. We draw our inspiration from the Charter of Transdisciplinarity written at Convento da Arrábida, Portugal, in 1994. Our students and faculty understand that the world of the 21st century requires a new way of thinking, a new way of working, a new way of being. For us, that way is transdisciplinarity. We are one of the few Institutes focused on the application of transdisciplinarity to undergraduate education and research.

“Rigor, openness, and tolerance are the fundamental characteristics of the transdisciplinary attitude and vision. Rigor in argument, taking into account all existing data, is the best defense against possible distortions. Openness involves an acceptance of the unknown, the unexpected and the unforeseeable. Tolerance implies acknowledging the right to ideas and truths opposed to our own. (Art. 14, The Charter of Transdisciplinarity, 1994)

As a principle rooted in praxis, the act of teaching and learning is central to any transdisciplinary agenda. The result is a natural affinity between transdisciplinarity and the question of engagement, both by faculty and by students. Engagement is ultimately about self-motivation towards learning, about how often and how aggressively we seek out opportunities for experience and learning. It involves exactly the variables that are important in student success (family, friends, workplace, neighborhood) and the different levels of perception and influence these variables have. Fully engaged people, whether seeking solutions to problems, self-awareness or self-fulfillment, the acquisition of cultural capital, or all of the above, necessarily adopt questions, attitudes and resources that transcend the way we traditionally divide the intellectual world. 

For us, transdisciplinarity requires a certain hospitality, a welcoming of others across the threshold (or over the transept), the possible transformation of roles, rules and behaviors, and an adapting of our language and a lowering our guard. We are striving to move outside our comfort areas and venture on to others’ terrains, undertaking student‐centered investigations into contemporary issues, looking at the local and the global, the applied and the theoretical. We are dedicated to adventure, to exploring analyses and solutions to pressing problems while having a clearly articulated purpose and a defined problem, and making public presentation of our individual and group findings.

For more information about Transdisciplinarity, contact Dr. Douglas J. Cremer, Dean of the Institute, at douglas.cremer@woodbury.edu

Tailor-Made Majors

The major programs in the Institute, Politics & History and Interdisciplinary Studies, are designed as interdisciplinary degrees, the first self-directed, the second combining two closely related fields. In line with the mission of the Institute, we believe that a focus on a single discipline, especially at the level of undergraduate education, is not for every student. Many are drawn to issues, careers, ideas and problems that can only be addressed by an interdisciplinary approach. Our curricula are designed to take advantage of the multiple disciplinary expertise of our faculty, from first-year seminars through senior thesis projects. Students are also able to supplement the existing curriculum with independent studies, one-on-one seminars with faculty on a special topic of the student’s choosing. Both of our majors are flexible and rigorous, developed in collaboration with faculty and students, who throughout the course of a an undergraduate education, often learn much from each other.

POLITICS & HISTORY

The major in Politics & History is rooted in the historical narrative of politics and the political analysis of history. It is shaped by a unique interdisciplinary core in the first two years that introduces the major, blending studies of politics and history with those of literature and philosophy and developing student’s critical thinking, reading and writing abilities. Upper-division seminars, which are generally offered on a rotating two-year cycle, focus on such interdisciplinary topics as war and revolution, civil rights and globalization, and political theory and law. The seminars are supported and brought together by a research sequence introducing students to historiographical and political methodologies, developing their advanced research skills, and by writing a senior thesis.

Students are well prepared for admission to graduate education in law, political science, public administration, international affairs, or history as well as careers in government service at the local, state or national level, and non-profit organizations. We offer pre-law advising to all of our students that are interested. One-third of politics and history alumni have received graduate degrees in history, law, public administration, education, business administration and organizational leadership and are serving as elected city officials, lawyers, professors, business owners and teachers.

view the Politics and History
Department page

For more information about the Politics and History curriculum, contact Dr. Emerald Archer, Chair, at emerald.archer@woodbury.edu

INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES

The major in Interdisciplinary Studies major is intended for students seeking a unique, hand-crafted university education. In consultation with the Assistant Dean and a team of faculty from across the university, students create a self-designed program combining two or more disciplines, ending with a synthetic senior thesis that demonstrates their learning and achievements. Built around a core of courses introducing them to interdisciplinary theory and research, the major offers opportunities for students to bring together such diverse disciplines as business and architecture, communication and politics, or art history and interior architecture.

Past students have created programs in architectural project management, entrepreneurial design, environmental relations and popular culture. Current students continue to find unique ways to blend business and design, two areas the university is especially noted for, with fields in the liberal arts. New program possibilities are constantly being created, such as those centering on art history and curatorial studies or urban studies and architectural history. Our alumni are involved in local business, non-profit organizations and education, and other entrepreneurial ventures.

view the Interdisciplinary Studies Department page

For more information about the Interdisciplinary Studies curriculum, contact Dr. Will McConnell, Assistant Dean, at will.mcconnell@woodbury.edu

Junior and Senior Fellows

The Institute of Transdisciplinary Studies is continually seeking students and faculty who want to challenge themselves through the Fellows Program, which includes the Senior Fellows for faculty members and the Junior Fellows for students. Both awards are directed at our overarching goal: to pursue learning and research freed from disciplinary boundaries while upholding the university’s commitments to academic quality, innovation, creativity, and social responsibility.

The Fellows Program brings together students and faculty, scholars and practitioners, and activists and artists from across the disciplines in order to enrich the educational experiences of our students and our selves. Fellows will contribute to the intellectual development of the Institute as well as the university, leaving behind contributions that enhance these bodies once the fellowship appointment is concluded. Deadline for applications (which can be found at the links below) each year is March 31st for appointments beginning in the fall of the same year.

Senior Fellows commit to a period of research, teaching and/or service to the Institute and the university for at least one academic year, either part-time or full-time. Their contribution may take the form of applied or theoretical research that explores the issues and boundaries of transdisciplinarity, the development of pedagogies and curricular programs dedicated to a transdisciplinary vision, the teaching of courses in interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary studies, the creation of collaborative educational practices, or any combination of these ideas. If interested, please download a copy of the Senior Fellows Application here.

For more information,
contact the Dean of the Institute,
Dr. Douglas J. Cremer,
douglas.cremer@woodbury.edu

Junior Fellows commit to a semester of research in the Institute and the university, Their contribution takes the form of participation in the Seminar on Transdisciplinarity, a student-centered investigation into contemporary issues both local and global, applied and theoretical, that explores the issues and boundaries of transdisciplinarity, the development of analyses and solutions to pressing problems, and the public presentation of individual and group findings. If interested, please download a copy of the Junior Fellows Application here.

For more information,
contact the Assistant Dean
of the Institute,
Dr. Will McConnell,
will.mcconnell@woodbury.edu