Interdisciplinary Core Curriculum

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 mathematics and critical thinking. 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. 

All students who complete the IDS curriculum will receive a minor in Liberal Arts.

COURSE LISTINGS IN IDS (IDS)

Preparation                                                                                                                                     1 hour

IDS 1001       USAO ORIENTATION
                    This course is required for students who enroll at USAO.  1 hour.

All first-time entering students (except transfer students with 31 or more credit hours) must enroll in a section of USAO Orientation.

Interdisciplinary Skills                                                                                                               12 hours

IDS 1013       RHETORIC and CRITICAL THINKING
                    Rhetoric and Critical Thinking introduces critical thinking skills that form the basis of a liberal arts education, 
                    including logical structure, fallacies, and the processes of evaluating arguments. Skills are demonstrated 
                    through a variety of methods that will include oral presentation. 3 hours

IDS 1113       WRITING I
                    Extensive practice in writing, with emphasis on expository and persuasive essays based on a study of rhetoric
                    and the writing process. 3 hours. Prerequisite: basic skills competence.

IDS 1213       WRITING II
                    The writing of critical papers based on the study of drama, fiction, and poetry, together with practice in
                    applying close reading techniques to literature. 3 hours. Prerequisite: grade of "C" or better in IDS 1113.

IDS 1223      MATHEMATICS IN THE MODERN WORLD
                   Exploration of the structure, language, and thought processes of mathematics. 3 hours. Prerequisite: basic
                   skills competence.

 

Artistic Expression  (Fine and Performing Arts)                                                                                  2 hours

                   Two hours must be successfully completed from any of the following:

                   Art 1003, 1112, 1122, 1212, 1662, 2732

                   Drama 1403, 1801, 2113

                   English 2403

                   Music 1021, 1031, 1041, 1051, 1061, 1081, 1102, 1203, 4901 (USAO Show Band, USAO Key Players, or USAO
                   Vocal Jazz Ensemble), 4903 (Song Writing)

                   Photography 1023, 2133

 

Physical Expression                                                                                                                2 hours

Two hours must be successfully completed from the following:

PHED 1011 and 1 hour chosen from:

PHED 1001, 1021, 1031, 1041, 1061, 1081, 1091, 1111, 1121, 1141, 1151, 1161, 1181, 1191, 2101.

These concept courses begin in the freshman year with IDS 1133: The Individual in Contemporary Society. 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.

 

Interdisciplinary Ideas (Team-Taught)                                                                                  30 hours

IDS 1133       THE INDIVIDUAL IN CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY
                    Introduces the major theories of human nature, individual behavior, and the meaning of society. Taught
                    primarily from a psychology and sociology perspective, the course also utilizes other social sciences to allow
                    students to consider the interplay of individuals and major social issues. 3 hours

IDS 2011       FOUNDATIONS OF SCIENCE LABORATORY
                    An interdisciplinary laboratory offering experiments in both the biological and physical sciences. Satisfies the
                    laboratory experience for mathematics education.
                    Co-requisite: Foundations of Life Science – IDS 2023. 1 hour

IDS 2013       FOUNDATIONS OF PHYSICAL SCIENCE
                    IDS 2013 and 2023 should be taken in sequence. Introduction of basic concepts of the scientific method
                    illustrated by the physical sciences of astronomy, physics, chemistry, and geology. Topics include the historical
                    and philosophical development of these sciences and their relationship to modern concerns with technology,
                    environment, and energy. 3 hours

IDS 2023       FOUNDATIONS OF LIFE SCIENCE
                    IDS 2013 and 2023 should be taken in sequence. Continuation of the study of the scientific method with
                    illustrations from the life sciences. Topics include fundamental elements of life sciences, such as cell structure
                    and function, classification systems and evolution, and their relationship to modern concerns with
                    environment, genetics, and population dynamics. Pre-requisite IDS 1223. 3 hours

IDS 2133      AMERICAN CIVILIZATION (HISTORY/GOVERNMENT) I
                   IDS 2133 and 2143 should be taken in sequence. Examination of American ideas and culture through 1877,
                   the end of Reconstruction. The course explores the experiences of American peoples by focusing upon
                   government; values; religious, social, and political concerns; and creative expressions. 3 hours

IDS 2143      AMERICAN CIVILIZATION (HISTORY/GOVERNMENT) II
                   IDS 2133 and 2143 should be taken in sequence. Examination of American ideas and culture from 1877, the
                   end of Reconstruction to the present. The course explores the experiences of American peoples by focusing
                   upon government; values; religious, social, and political concerns; and creative expressions. 3 hours

IDS 2880      SPECIAL TOPICS
                   Special topics in interdisciplinary studies. 1-4 hours. ELECTIVE CREDIT ONLY.

IDS 3223      POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC SYSTEMS AND THEORIES
                   Examination of representative global political and economic theories and practices with emphasis on
                   contemporary public policy alternatives for the United States. Includes a discussion of the relationship of
                   geography to the development of political and economic systems and strategies. 3 hours

IDS 3313      WORLD THOUGHT AND CULTURE I
                   IDS 3313, 3323, and 4333 should be taken in sequence. Examination of representative thought and expression
                   of a number of world civilizations through the Second Century, C.E. The course focuses on significant
                   achievements in architecture, art, drama, literature, music, philosophy, religion, and science. 3 hours

IDS 3323      WORLD THOUGHT AND CULTURE II.
                   IDS 3313, 3323 and 4333 should be taken in sequence. Examination of representative thought and expression
                   of a number of world civilizations from the Second Century, C.E. through the Seventeenth Century, C.E. The
                   course focuses on significant achievements in architecture, art, drama, literature, music, philosophy, religion,
                   and science. 3 hours

IDS 4333     WORLD THOUGHT AND CULTURE III
                  IDS 3313, 3323, and 4333 should be taken in sequence. Examination of representative thought and expression
                  of a number of world civilizations from the Seventeenth Century, C.E. to the present. The course focuses on
                  significant achievements in architecture, art, drama, literature, music, philosophy, religion, and science. 3 hours

IDS 4522     SENIOR SEMINAR
                  Synthesis of the interdisciplinary program by writing several short papers and completing a formal project. The
                  project may integrate a student’s major field with the IDS program. Prerequisite: completion of IDS courses
                  below the 4000 level. 2 hours

Research Endorsement

The Research Endorsement is an optional course of study that will satisfy the IDS requirement of IDS 4522 Senior Seminar.  The Research Endorsement will provide considerably more rigorous instruction in research methods across the curriculum, and should result in sophisticated research projects suitable for presentation at state, regional, and national conferences.

The Research Endorsement will also provide a rigorous academic experience for the Independent Study term. (IDS 3415 Research Endorsement: Introduction to Research Methods and Design will be taught only during the Independent Study period.) The Research Endorsement will require a total of 10 credit hours spread over approximately 12 months.

The Research Endorsement is added to the student transcript signifying the development of the skills associated with a quality undergraduate research project. The essential components include an introduction to research methods, and the design, execution, and presentation of the project. Divisional research courses may be substituted for research endorsement courses or competencies with the approval of the Director of Undergraduate Research. Off-campus research internships may be substituted for research endorsement courses or competencies with the approval of the Director of Undergraduate Research.

The following courses will be taken in sequence:

IDS 3415     RESEARCH ENDORSEMENT: INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH METHODS AND DESIGN
                  Introduction to Research Methods and Design is the initial course in the sequence that leads to the Research
                  Endorsement. This course introduces the concepts and skills involved in understanding and analyzing the broad
                  range of research methodologies to be found across the spectrum of academic disciplines. While students
                  should expect to study much of this material in greater depth through additional course work before being fully
                  prepared to conduct independent research, this course should enhance the ability to locate, read, comprehend,
                  and begin to analyze critically research articles and reports. As such, the goals of this course are twofold: 1)
                  To gain introductory level of familiarity with the principles and methods of various forms of research and 2) to
                  become better “consumers” of published research. 5 hours. Prerequisite: junior class standing.

IDS 3421     RESEARCH ENDORSEMENT: RESEARCH PROJECT I (DESIGN)
                  In consultation with a faculty supervisor, the student will prepare a research proposal to be completed in IDS
                  4552 Research Project II (Implementation) and IDS 4562 Research Project III (Presentation). The proposal   
                  will be informed by the research design and literature search elements of IDS 3415 Introduction to Research
                  Methods and Design. The proposal must be sufficiently complete that implementation can begin in the
                  following courses. 1 hour
                  Prerequisite: IDS 3415 Introduction to Research Methods and Design

IDS 4552     RESEARCH ENDORSEMENT: RESEARCH PROJECT II (IMPLEMENTATION)
                  In consultation with the faculty supervisor, the student will arrange a schedule to implement the research
                  proposal completed in IDS 3421 Research Project I (Design). 2 hours

IDS 4462     RESEARCH ENDORSEMENT: RESEARCH PROJECT III (PRESENTATION)
                  Research Project III completes the sequence of courses necessary for receiving the Research Endorsement. 
                  The student will meet with the faculty supervisor to prepare the research project for presentation. The
                  presentation requirement allows for flexible options including the presentation before undergraduate research
                  conferences, discipline meetings, or a faculty committee. The student will forward the presentation plan to the
                  Director of Undergraduate Research for approval. If required, the Director will arrange a faculty committee to
                  hear the presentation. The committee will send an evaluation of the project to the Director who will forward
                  the recommendations to the faculty supervisor for final evaluation. Upon successful completion of IDS 4462
                  and the recommendation of the Director of Undergraduate Research, the student will have the Research
                  Endorsement added to the transcript. 2 hours

IDS 4880     SPECIAL TOPICS
                  Special topics in interdisciplinary studies. 1-4 hours. ELECTIVE CREDIT ONLY.

To learn more about IDS, visit our IDS web page conveniently linked to the USAO homepage: www.usao.edu.

Transfer students may earn a minor in Liberal Arts by completing the following:

Minor in Liberal Arts
Required Courses (18 hours)

Course         Title                                                                                   Hours Required

IDS 3223     POLITICAL & ECONOMIC SYSTEMS & THEORIES                              3

IDS 3313     WORLD THOUGHT & CULTURE TO 500 C.E.                                     3

IDS 3323     WORLD THOUGHT & CULTURE, 500 C.E.TO1650 C.E.                       3

IDS 4333     WORLD THOUGHT & CULTURE, 1650 C.E. TO PRESENT                    3

Other IDS concept courses or additional liberal arts hours, approved
by both advisor and the director of Interdisciplinary Studies                                 6

No courses can be substituted for the four specified IDS courses required for the liberal arts minor. No course may count for credit in the liberal arts minor and also count for credit in either a major or another minor.