Aug 14, 2020  
2018-2019 Undergraduate Catalog 
2018-2019 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Interdisciplinary Studies

View Programs and Courses  



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 - Interdisciplinary Studies

The Interdisciplinary Studies Department at Salem State University meets the intellectual and professional needs of 21st century students by providing them with opportunities to study complex topics and create new knowledge through the integration of methods, skills and materials from across the university. These skills and ways of engaging with the world are essential tools for successful careers and lives. We offer a major in Interdisciplinary Studies with various concentrations and numerous interdisciplinary minors.

At Salem State, as at institutions across the world, Interdisciplinary Studies is marked foremost by the way in which students and faculty ask and try to answer big questions about culture, politics, society, relationships, truth, and identity by building and exploring the webs of connection between and among various perspectives and ways of knowing. It is by presenting students with multiple lenses and approaches to an issue, an area or a question, and guiding them through the synthesis of these approaches that new possibilities, understandings and insights emerge. The rigor of Interdisciplinary Studies builds students’ writing, reasoning, presentation, research, and critical and creative thinking skills alongside more specialized knowledge in a particular area.

Each course and program of study makes use of the cultural and natural resources of the region as well as the numerous local, national and global partnerships fostered and maintained by our faculty. Service-learning, independent study, social justice, research and internships are also hallmarks of the department. Recent graduates are pursuing graduate work in a range of fields and working in many sectors as journalists, educators, advocates, artists, non-profit leaders and small business owners among others.



American Studies  
Intercultural Communications 
Interdisciplinary Studies  (self-designed concentration)
Peace and Conflict Studies                                    


African-American Studies  
American Studies  
Asian Studies  
East European and Russian Studies  
Information Technology in the Arts and Sciences  
Latin American and Latino 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 Interdisciplinary 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 American Studies concentration requires 30 credits in American Studies/Interdisciplinary Studies 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 4 carefully chosen 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. Four support courses (which include options and may be used also to fulfill general education requirements), an additional interdisciplinary studies course and a theory/method elective 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.

Local/Global opportunities for engagement: American Studies students (majors and minors) regularly complete coursework that links them to and the with students and communities outside the US ( in Europe, the Middle East, and West Africa) and both majors and minors 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.  The American Studies program also has collaborations including student travel with universities in Quebec City, Canada and in Thessaloniki Greece.

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. 

Intercultural Communications

Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello, 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 required 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.

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 is for students who have 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.

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 Peace and Conflict Studies program draws upon the strengths of a range of disciplines and focuses on developing an understanding of recent history, contemporary social/political 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, to paraphrase Martin Luther King – we must learn to live together peacefully or perish together as fools. In the Peace and Conflict Studies, students are given the opportunity to engage in critical thinking and dialogue in order to develop the skills of conflict transformation with an emphasis on nine different focus options. Six of these options are regionally based (Africa, Europe and the Mediterranean, Middle East, Asia Oceania, Latin America or North America), the final three are more thematic (Nature, Culture, International Governance). Completion of the Peace and Conflict Studies program 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 the human services.

Peace and Conflict Studies Program requires 36 credits, which is broken down into Core courses (18 credits) and Focus option (18 Credits):

Core Courses (18 Credits)

IDS265 Peace and Peace Building  
POL251 Introduction to International Relations  
PHL309A Alternatives to Violence: Philosophical Approach  
IDS 385 Community Organizing I  
IDS389 Research Methods in Interdisciplinary Studies 
IDS 489 Senior Capstone in Interdisciplinary Studies  

Focus Options (18 Credits)

Students select one of the focus options listed below and in consultation and approval of the program coordinator choose courses from across the University that clearly fit into their chosen Focus Option. A full list of courses appropriate to the specific Focus Options is available from the Interdisciplinary Studies department or by contacting the Program Coordinator. All courses are above the introductory level with no more than two courses from any one department being used to satisfy the Focus Option.

  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

The Peace and Conflict Studies program also offers Course and Fieldwork Experience in the West African country of Liberia.  The fieldwork component typically takes place in either the Winter Intersession or Spring Break.    

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.