The Individualized Interdisciplinary Major changed requirements in December 2017. Please see both the “NEW” and “OLD” requirements below.
Definition and Purpose of the IIM
The individualized, interdisciplinary major (IIM) at Goucher College provides a framework for students with a broad range of interests to pursue a flexible, self-designed major that takes advantage of the diverse and innovative courses offered across the curriculum. The IIM is designed for the student who has examined the traditional majors offered at Goucher College and has come to an understanding that their educational goals cannot be achieved with the rigidity of a single major or double major. Rather, the student has recognized the fact that their interest in a multidimensional issue or topical area requires an intentional plan of study that crosses three disciplines, interweaving the ideals and processes of each discipline into a logical new multidiscipline.
Students who engage in an IIM will be able to achieve the goals of a) being able to articulate clearly the vision of the area of research and study, b) stating the methodology or methodologies that they employ, c) framing the history of and the new relations and offerings among disciplines in their areas, d) engaging in and describing their advanced areas of research into questions in their areas of study, and e) researching, imagining, and understanding the areas of opportunity for advanced study, employment, and careers in their chosen areas of interest.
The main outcome of the IIM is to demonstrate learning, growth, and a public contribution through an individualized pathway that is illuminated through student-mentor collaboration. Upon graduation, students completing an IIM will be able to:
- Engage in self-directed learning with the guidance of the IIM mentor and IIM committee.
- Explain the design, implementation, and results of their IIM in a concise manner so that graduate schools and/or employers understand the interdisciplinary approaches and connections that the student has identified.
- Present their interdisciplinary research to the Goucher community, its partners, and/or society at large, ordinarily at the Julia Rogers Student Symposium during the spring semester.
Procedure for Initiating the IIM
Students interested in pursuing the IIM should arrange a meeting with the IIM director. The student should be prepared to discuss the appropriateness of the IIM for their particular path of study relative to tradition majors, double majors or major/minor combinations. Students should be able to identify their three disciplinary areas of study and provide a tentative list of courses appropriate for their plan of study that adheres to the requirements for the major listed below. If the IIM director and student agree that the IIM is an appropriate path of inquiry, an IIM mentor will be assigned to the student. At that point, the student, the IIM mentor and IIM committee will work together to formally develop the IIM proposal, which will serve as the plan of study for the student. The details of this process are described below.
The following questions are provided to help guide the student in their process of assessing whether or not the IIM is an appropriate curricular path for them: Who formerly researched the question that you want to study? Why does research in that discipline no longer apply to how you want to study your topic? Why is this approach no longer an appropriate way to address that question? If this discipline is where the question came from, what is the limitation that means you need to use the IIM?
Requirements for the Major
The student must complete at least 48 credits in courses that focus on the methods and content from three disciplines and that balance the contributions from each discipline. The student will form an IIM committee that consists of an IIM mentor and at least three other faculty members drawn from the three disciplinary areas under study. The IIM mentor is the primary point of contact for advising throughout the student’s course of study at the college. In certain cases, the IIM mentor may also be one of the three disciplinary members that comprise the IIM committee, but this need not be the case. Working closely with the IIM committee, the student will formulate a proposal for their plan of study. The student will formally deliver and defend their curricular proposal to the IIM committee in both oral and written form. If necessary, the IIM director can weigh in on proposals or other situations when needed.
Once approved, the proposal will serve as the academic plan and the IIM mentor and committee will help the student progress through the major, adjusting coursework as necessary. Any changes to the overall proposed area of study or to the proposed coursework requires a petition that must be approved by the entire IIM committee.
The 48 credit requirement allows the student to devote at least 12 credits to each of the three disciplines. As is the case with any major on campus, at least 16 credits must be taken at the 300-400 level. Ordinarily, those upper-level (300-400) credits will be distributed such that at least 12 of those credits will be taken across each of the three disciplines (i.e. one four credit 300-400 level course per disciplinary area.) Ideally, a student will complete a capstone experience in one of their three disciplinary areas of study. In cases where this is not possible, the student can complete a 4 credit independent study in IIM to satisfy the requirement of a capstone experience for all graduating Goucher students.
Ordinarily, students will declare the IIM major by the second semester of their sophomore year. They should also ordinarily plan to complete their degree requirements by the end of their sophomore year or the beginning of their junior year. Doing so can help students avoid unnecessary scheduling conflicts in their junior and senior years. Depending on the three disciplinary areas under study, the student and the IIM mentor and committee must identify within the IIM proposal how the student will satisfy the Goucher Commons Center Pair Exploration requirements by explicitly identifying which CPE areas must be satisfied. IIM students are also expected to satisfy the two common areas of inquiry (race, power and perspective and environmental sustainability.) Regarding study abroad, students should also articulate within their IIM proposal why a specific study abroad experience fits into the goals and purpose of their IIM.
The student should engage in critical reading, writing, and understanding of the three disciplines and their interactions. The end result of this engagement should be some form of public delivery of this scholarship. The Julia Rogers Student Symposium would be a logical outlet for this sort of presentation to the Goucher College community.
Honors in the Major
Students interested in pursuing honors in the major must complete a senior thesis. Guidelines for senior theses are available in the official Goucher College Undergraduate Catalogue.
Responsibility of the Student
After initiating a meeting with the IIM director and upon successful declaration of the IIM, it is the student’s responsibility to submit a tentative version of the proposal to the IIM mentor and committee in sufficient time to allow review and revision. The IIM mentor and student should work out a time schedule at the beginning of the project, including scheduling approximately two meetings per semester.
Responsibility of the IIM Director
The IIM director will administer the IIM program and serve as the first point of contact for students interested in learning more about the IIM. Program administration will also include overseeing the paperwork associated with declaring and completing the IIM (plans of study, committee structure) as well as overseeing the faculty who will serve as IIM mentors or who will serve on IIM committees.
Responsibility of the IIM Mentor
The IIM mentors will advise students who have declared the IIM. The IIM mentor will help the student form an appropriate IIM committee, which will be comprised of faculty from each of the three areas of study. For faculty taking on the role of IIM mentor, this is no different than faculty agreeing to be first-year advisors aside from the fact that the IIM mentor will continue to advise the student as the primary advisor until graduation. As described above under the requirements for the major, the IIM mentor can also represent one of the three areas of study, but this need not be the case.
The IIM mentors will meet with their advisees twice over the course of the semester to review the plan of study for the upcoming semester and to revise that course list if necessary (note: all change to the plan of study need approval from the entire IIM committee.) The individual meetings will allow the IIM mentor to receive project and course progression updates, to clear students for registration, and to provide support and feedback for the student. The second semester meeting will include all currently declared IIM students and all IIM mentors. The goal of this larger meeting is to foster community, collaboration, and conversation across the major.
Responsibility of the IIM Committee Members
Mimicking the guidelines for senior theses at Goucher, the IIM committee will consist of the IIM mentor and at least three faculty members drawn from the three disciplinary areas under study. The IIM mentor can also serve on the IIM committee representing one of the three disciplinary areas under study. Where appropriate, additional faculty or staff could be asked to serve as additional members of the committee.
The IIM committee reviews and approves the proposed course of study, and once approved, helps the student progress through the major, adjusting coursework as necessary until the student reaches the goal of completing the IIM major. Any changes to the overall proposed area of study or to the proposed coursework requires a petition that must be approved by the IIM committee.
Presentation and Evaluation of the Completed IIM
The IIM, in final form for evaluation, shall be submitted to the IIM committee no later than the last day of classes of the semester in which the work is to be completed. It shall be in a form that facilitates efficient evaluation by the committee. The final form of the project should be explicitly stated in the IIM proposal, or in any approved revisions to the IIM proposal. It is imperative that all parties agree as to the nature of the expected product, and that the student understands what is required for submission and evaluation. If the end product is a manuscript, DVD, CD ROM or photographic slides, for example, an adequate number of copies shall be provided for evaluation by the IIM Committee. The end result of the IIM should also include some form of public delivery of this scholarship. Ordinarily, the Julia Rogers Student Symposium, held during the spring semester, or Capstone day, held during the fall semester, would be logical outlets for this sort of presentation to the Goucher College community.
Interdisciplinary Independent Major (IIM) at Goucher provides a framework for students with a broad range of interests to pursue a flexible, self-designed major that takes advantage of the diverse and innovative courses offered across the curriculum. Students must complete at least 44 credits in courses that focus on the methods and content of three disciplines and balance the contributions from each discipline. Students will form an IIM Committee (which includes the IIM advisor, primary faculty sponsor, and at least 2 other members who could be faculty or staff on campus). Students who engage in an IIM will be able to achieve the goals of a) being able to articulate clearly the vision of the area of research and study, b) stating the methodology or methodologies that they employ, c) framing the history of and the new relations and offerings among disciplines in their areas, d) engaging in and describing their advanced areas of research into questions in their areas of study, and e) researching, imagining, and understanding the areas of opportunity for advanced study, employment, and careers in their chosen areas of interest.