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.

Writing I and Writing II develop the writing skills that students will need throughout the rest of the curriculum. Writing I concentrates on expository and persuasive writing. Writing II emphasizes close reading techniques and critical analysis of drama, literature and poetry.   

Math in the Modern World teaches foundational mathematics skills while exploring the structure, language and thought processes of mathematics.

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.

Understanding the Self requires an understanding of the myriad number of ways people can use art to express themselves. Students are thus required to actively use art as personal expression to fulfill the Artistic Expression component of IDS. Students can choose from many courses, including Beginning Drawing, Ceramic Handbuilding, Beginning Photography or Jewelry Studio from the Art department; Stagecraft, Theater Lab or Acting from the Drama department; Creative Writing from the English department; and Class Voice, Piano, Guitar, performance choirs and instrumental ensembles, or Music Fundamentals from the Music department.

The one credit hour Concepts of Health and Fitness allows students to develop an appreciation and knowledge base for maintaining health and physical fitness throughout their lives. Students must also put that knowledge to work in one of the required Physical Activity Courses, choosing from a diverse range of activities including Aerobics, Weight Training, Swimming, Team Sports, Folk Dance, Bowling, Golf, Tennis, Fencing and more.

Foundations of Physical Science explores the 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 relationships to modern technological and environmental issues.

Foundations of Life Science continues the study of the scientific method with examples from the life sciences. Topics include fundamental elements of life science such as cell structure and function, and classification systems and evolution. Modern concerns of environment, genetics and population dynamics are also examined.

The American Civilization sequence explores the experience of American peoples. Although the courses are arranged in chronological order, they are more than history courses. The courses are interdisciplinary, and students explore the American experience by learning about government, economic institutions, literature and creative expression, and religious and social values. American Civilization I covers the American experience through the Civil War, and American Civilization II spans the time from the Civil War to the present.

Political and Economic Systems and Theories concentrates on representative political and economic institutions from around the globe, with special emphasis on the United States, and the theories and ideologies upon which they are based.

The World Thought and Culture sequence integrates significant philosophical, artistic, religious and scientific thought from cultures throughout the world. Although the three courses are arranged in chronological order, they are not traditional history courses. Instead the courses are interdisciplinary, and focus on the origin of civilizations, how civilizations are shaped by geography and natural environments, and how ideas both mold civilizations and are molded by civilizations. World Thought and Culture I covers civilizations until 500 C.E. World Thought and Culture II spans the time period from 500 C.E. to 1650 C.E, and World Thought and Culture III spans 1650 C.E. to the present.

Senior Seminar is the capstone to the IDS experience. Students produce an independent project, typically a research paper, which may integrate a student’s major field of study with the IDS program.  

A new version of the Senior Seminar is now being implemented to meet the capabilities of students admitted under USAO’s more rigorous admissions requirements. The Research Endorsement allows students to undertake an intensive research experience in a liberal arts environment. The 10- hour sequence of courses guides students through all phases of research—from learning research methods from various academic disciplines, to working one-on-one with a faculty research supervisor, to presenting their work at conferences. More information is available here