Majors  >  IDS

All universities have a general education core. Most require students to select from a cafeteria plan of lower division courses from various disciplines. USAO is distinctive in offering an interdisciplinary, liberal arts core that spans all four years of its students’ academic careers. The Interdisciplinary core (IDS) includes two types of classes.

There are skills courses that teach students to express themselves clearly in both speech and writing and to master skills in areas such as math and computer science. In addition, there are also concept courses that emphasize the complexity and interconnectedness of the human world. The interdisciplinary nature of these courses means that they examine topics from multiple academic perspectives and just not from the view point of a single field or specialization.

To emphasize the broad, multi-faceted nature of the interdisciplinary approach, the concept courses are team-taught. This means that a course in American Civilization, for instance, might be taught by a historian and a literature professor who would examine issues of the American past, identity, and values from the perspectives of both their fields, using literature, art, and film to examine the American tradition, as well as more familiar lecture approaches.   
These concept courses begin in the freshman year with IDS 1133 -- The Individual in Contemporary Society, which examines the human condition in the early twenty-first-century and the issues and responsibilities that individuals must face in the contemporary world. Later concept courses cover the Physical and Life Sciences, the nature of American Civilization, the development and impact of World Thought and Culture, and an overview of the history of Political and Economic Systems and Theories. A faculty-guided, independent Senior Seminar project provides a capstone experience that completes and closes USAO’s undergraduate curriculum.

Note: Items on this page and page links are intended for informational purposes only. Please consult the current USAO catalog for actual class requirements for this or any other major field of study. Current USAO students should consult their advisor.