Solutions to the complex, enduring, global problems of our time call for more resources than any single discipline can provide. Moreover, Notre Dame’s Catholic tradition encourages us to consider the full range of questions when confronting any issue. For example, the examination of the potential influence of scientific or technological advances is not sufficient without attention to their social and human impact and the moral and ethical questions surrounding their applications. Integration courses will enable students to undertake the necessary multifaceted treatment of such important questions.
In integration courses, students will learn to identify commonalities and differences, as well as strengths and weaknesses, among the various disciplinary perspectives and to devise a more complex approach to the question, problem, or issue that provides the theme for the course. Since students will undertake an active investigation of a complex topic, these courses will also have the goal of promoting critical thinking and intellectual synthesis, as well as developing the habits of inquiry and independent learning.
Students completing a course that meets the core integration requirement will be able to:
- Articulate aspects of contrasting perspectives and analyze a problem or topic by combining knowledge and methods from multiple disciplinary frameworks.
- Evaluate disciplines as powerful sources of insight while analyzing the underlying assumptions and limitations of that insight.
- Synthesize the knowledge gained from interdisciplinary study and apply it in new cases and contexts.
- Undertake integrated inquiry into complex multidisciplinary problems encountered in the world beyond the classroom.
- Apply the normative principles of two or more disciplines to address an important enduring question, societal issue, or social or technological problem, and show how each discipline illuminates and deepens the understanding of the other disciplines.
Integration Course Criteria
Integration courses in the core curriculum will help to achieve a more integrated student experience by bringing faculty together across disciplines to explore enduring questions or issues of global importance, working to recognize and cross many of the boundaries produced by academic specialization, and seeking to examine a given topic from many different perspectives. Courses proposed for the integration requirement must be team-taught by faculty from at least two different departments or academic units and must seek to integrate the perspective of two or more disciplines to address an issue that is too complex to be adequately addressed by a single field of study. They must be truly interdisciplinary courses in that each represented discipline makes an explicit and significant contribution to the analysis. Proposed courses must go beyond a superficial survey of the topic from multiple disciplinary perspectives; instead they should provide suitable depth of analysis and integration of those disciplinary views.
Integrative elements of the course should include reasoning by analogy from the data, theory, methods, or models of another discipline; revising hypotheses in light of evidence drawn from another discipline; and extending definitions and key concepts to create common ground for integrating the insights from multiple disciplines. These integrative elements of the course should be ongoing rather than concentrated at the end of the course following a serial presentation of the alternative disciplinary perspectives. The chosen topics should be focused enough to provide an appropriate balance of breadth and depth of coverage and still leave sufficient time in the course to attend explicitly to the integration of the various disciplinary perspectives. Choices about breadth and depth of content and the specific integration strategies will depend on the level of the course.
Additional criteria for approval as an integration course will include the global importance or existential depth of the proposed topic, the accessibility of the course to a broad segment of the student population, and the interdisciplinary breadth of the instructors and the topic.