Aug 03, 2020  
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog 
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Interdisciplinary Studies

View Programs and Courses  

View Flow Sheets  


Professor Elizabeth A. Duclos-Orsello, Chairperson

Professors: Greg Carroll, Pamela Shaw-George

Associate Professors: James Gubbins, Kimberly W. Poitevin


Faculty Emeriti

Professor: Albert M. Tosches

Programs Offered

Bachelor of Liberal Studies


American Studies  
Health Professions 
Intercultural Communications 
Interdisciplinary Studies 
Peace and Conflict Studies                                    
Public Policy  


African-American Studies  
American Studies  
Asian Studies  
East European and Russian Studies  
Information Technology in the Arts and Sciences  
Latin American and Latino Studies  
Marine Studies  
Peace Studies  
Legal Studies  
Religious Studies  
Urban Studies  
Women’s Studies  

Bachelor of Liberal Studies

The Bachelor of Liberal Studies contains one major, the Liberal Studies major, and this major has the following concentrations:

American Studies Concentration

Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello, Coordinator

American Studies–a field that traces its history in the academy to the early 20th century–is an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the people, society, institutions, and cultures of the United States (often called “America”) both past and present.  Key questions include: “Who are ‘Americans’?”, “What Do ‘Americans’ Believe?” and “Where is ‘America’?”

At Salem State our program is marked most notably by a focus on:

  • Cultural diversity and identity formation with emphases on race, class, gender, sexual orientation and religion
  • Place-making, memory, and power
  • “America” and “Americans” as a part of a global system
  • Civic engagement, social justice and social change

In courses and through individual research activities American Studies students use and integrate the methods, theories, and scholarship of a wide range of disciplines in the humanities, social sciences and arts as they consider the various ways in which “American” identity is constructed, contested, and transformed through formal and informal means in all areas of human activity. Students engage with the city of Salem and with regional non-profit organizations and cultural institutions (e.g., museums and social service agencies) as part of standard coursework. Emphasis is placed also on global, comparative and transnational issues and students have opportunities for individualized experiential learning throughout the program.

Given American Studies’ emphasis on a critical and integrative analysis of the United States in multiple contexts, students develop valuable transferable skills in critical reasoning, intercultural competencies, oral communication, writing, interdisciplinary thinking, and research. A degree in American Studies positions graduates to succeed in the 21st century global community while providing excellent preparation for many professions and numerous areas of graduate training.

The BLS/American Studies concentration requires 30-36 credits and 15 credits in support courses. The curriculum includes a carefully sequenced set of core American Studies courses to ground and develop students’ knowledge of the field and its integrative, interdisciplinary approach. These courses include an introductory course IDS232 , one of two mid-level courses IDS333  or IDS389 , and IDS461  which affords students an opportunity to understand the history and current focus of the field and complete a substantive, conference-ready research project. In addition, students carefully select a set of 5 or 6 electives from courses in more than ten departments in the arts, humanities and social sciences to meet their unique needs and interests. This cluster of courses constitutes a focus area. Five support courses (which include options and may be used also to fulfill general education requirements) complete the course of study.

The departments from which students may select elective courses are: Art + Design, Economics, English, Geography, History, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology, and World Languages and Cultures.

American Studies students have the opportunity to apply for a semester, year or summer study in American Studies, Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Mannheim in Mannheim, Germany. This exchange program allows students to study outside the US at the cost of an SSU education.

Salem State also offers a 15 credit American Studies minor which consists of a pair of foundational interdisciplinary American Studies courses (IDS232  and IDS333  or IDS333A ) augmented by three courses selected from across the humanities and social sciences to meet the specific educational goals and interests of each student. 

Health Professions Concentration

Pamela Shaw-George, Coordinator

The Bachelor of Liberal Studies: Health Professions gives to only those students who already have completed an associate’s degree in a specific career field related to the health sciences the opportunity to obtain a degree that will address their professional experience and their future career goals.

Intercultural Communications

Guillermo Avila-Saavedra, Coordinator

The concentration focuses on understanding human communication across cultures. Students in this program develop critical thinking skills and learn to express themselves in a variety of contexts. The program requires IDS389 and IDS489 as well as one additional IDS course plus courses from a wide range of academic departments, such as communications, sociology and interdisciplinary studies. The intercultural communications concentration helps students become competent, reflective communicators in personal, public, and business settings while providing the flexibility of an online learning environment.

This program is specifically designed to help transfer students with an associate’s degree complete their bachelor’s degree.

Interdisciplinary Studies Concentration

Kimberly Poitevin, Coordinator

The Interdisciplinary Studies concentration gives a student the opportunity to create an independent interdisciplinary course of study. This unique concentration was developed for a student who has a very specific professional objective/career and needs flexibility in planning a degree program. Students who create this independent course of study build a flow sheet reflecting courses that are cross disciplines. Any student interested in this concentration is required to meet with the Interdisciplinary Studies coordinator for information regarding eligibility. A formal proposal is required of each applicant that consists of a narrative including a statement detailing the student’s goals which support the flow sheet created by the student. It is strongly advised that students should apply prior to completing 60 credits. Once the proposal is completed, it is submitted to the Interdisciplinary Studies Academic Advisory Committee for review and final decision.

For further information regarding this concentration, consult the Coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Studies concentration, who is in the Interdisciplinary Studies Department.

Peace and Conflict Studies Concentration

Greg Carroll, Coordinator

The Peace and Conflict Studies Concentration within the Bachelor of Liberal Studies, Liberal Studies Major, is concerned with the issues of peace, sources of conflict, their resolution, and social justice. The program of study draws upon the strengths of a range of disciplines and focuses on developing an understanding of recent history, contemporary social/political structures, the problems associated with these structures, the ethical values embedded in these structures, potential conflicts, and possible paths to resolution. We live in a world where our ability to live peacefully with other peoples and cultures is crucial. In the Peace and Conflict Studies Concentration, students are given the opportunity to engage in critical thinking and dialogue in order to develop the skills of conflict transformation. These skills can then be applied to one of seven different focus options, six of which are regionally based (see below for list of focus options). Many careers are increasingly requiring an understanding of, and sensitivity to, sources of conflict and possible alternatives. This is especially true in areas such as international relations, education, law, health care, and human services.

The final Core Course (taken in the senior year) is:

IDS489 Senior Capstone in Interdisciplinary Studies : this course provides a capstone experience where students write up and present their focus option research developed from their research proposal in IDS389 Research Methods in Interdisciplinary Studies .

Core Courses (18 Credits)

IDS265 Peace and Peace Building  
POL251 Introduction to International Relations  
PHL309A Alternatives to Violence: Philosophical Approach  
SWK 340 Global Justice and Social Policy 
IDS389 Research Methods in Interdisciplinary Studies  

In consultation and approval with the program coordinator, students are to select courses from across the University that clearly fit into one of the following:                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

  1. Africa
  2. Europe and the Mediterranean
  3. Middle East
  4. Asia Oceania
  5. Latin America
  6. North America
  7. Nature
  8. Culture
  9. International Governance

Courses should be above the introductory level with no more than three course from any one department.         

A full list of courses that are appropriate to the specific Focus Options is available from the Interdisciplinary Studies department or by contacting the Program Coordinator.

The Peace and Conflict Studies program also periodically offers an African Fieldwork Experience in Liberia with the fieldwork component taking place in either the Winter Intersession or during the Summer break.

Public Policy Concentration

Chris Fauske, Coordinator

The Public Policy Concentration within the Bachelor of Liberal Studies emphasizes multidisciplinary training in the social sciences organized around understanding the policy process at both the domestic and international levels. The concentration assists students in developing a practical and conceptual understanding of the complex nature of how policy decisions and their implementations shape the functioning of society. The Public Policy Concentration has been designed to aid individuals interested in learning to analyze policy alternatives and make recommendations and partner with business and community organizations to improve quality of life. Students complete three IDS courses (Including IDS389  and IDS489 ) as well as a set of core courses selected from existing course offerings at the university to engage with and support the university’s and program’s aims of civic engagement and social justice. Students have the choice of two focus options that have been developed to extend a student’s understanding in one of two distinct directions, either urban planning or grassroots organizing. 

Interdisciplinary Studies Minors

The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies encourages and facilitates interdepartmental cooperation in the development of curriculum and programs. Courses and academic minors offer integrated approaches to learning and often include components of civic engagement and community-based learning.