Associate Professor: James Gubbins, Acting Chairperson
Professors: Greg Carroll, Elizabeth A. Duclos-Orsello, Kimberly Poitevin
Professor: Albert M. Tosches
Bachelor of Liberal Studies
Interdisciplinary Studies (self-designed concentration)
Peace and Conflict Studies
East European and Russian Studies
Gender and Women’s 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 two majors: 1) a major in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in American Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, and a self-designed option and 2) amajor in Liberal Studies. Additionally, we offer ten interdisciplinary minors (African-American Studies; American Studies; Asian Studies; East European and Russian Studies; Latin American, Caribbean and Latinx Studies; Legal Studies; Peace Studies; Religious Studies; Urban Studies)
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 flexibility of our programs are student-friendly, while 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 is linked by three guiding themes: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Social Justice, and Linking the Local and the Global. We make 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. Community-based civic learning, independent study, study-travel, and research and internships are also hallmarks of the department. A major or minor in Interdisciplinary Studies is also an excellent complement to a second major or minor. 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.
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 concentrations in American Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, Intercultural Communication and a self-designed option. We also offer ten interdisciplinary minors.
Interdisclipinary Studies Major
The major in Interdisciplinary Studies offers intellectually curious students two specialized concentrations in American Studies or Peace and Conflict Studies as well as a self-designed option. These interdisciplinary fields of study are regularly available to students at private or elite universities but less frequently at public regional ones. We are here to change that while ensuring that our graduates leave Salem State with critical 21st century skills, training and experiences which allow them to compete with peers from around the nation and around the world. All Interdisciplinary Studies majors take departmental courses augmented by courses drawn from across the campus. Our dynamic but flexible programs in American Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies prepare students to launch careers and lives fully engaged in issues of social justice, diversity, equity and inclusion, global and local policy work and social change while also preparing them for a wide array of graduate programs.
Carefully scaffolded courses of study ground all of our Interdisciplinary Studies majors in the integrative work of interdisciplinarity, while providing top-notch training in the well-established fields of either American Studies or Peace and Conflict Studies. Additionally, we offer students unique opportunities to do civic engagement and study abroad as part of their major. For students seeking a robust interdisciplinary major other than these two concentrations, our self-designed option offers a way for a first or second year student to construct (with departmental approval) an individualized program rooted in our department’s core/required courses. Interdisciplinary Studies major alumni include award-winning educators, social service leaders, museum professionals, Ph.D. students, activists, global NGO workers, and entrepreneurs among others. This major is an excellent complement to a second major in a variety of fields including education. [Note: The self-designed option within the Interdisciplinary Studies major is different in scope and intended audience from our Liberal Studies major.
Liberal Studies Major
The major in liberal studies is an interdisciplinary curriculum pathway for a bachelor’s degree that is flexible, responsive to student needs, and allows for a degree completion option at Salem State. This major serves current and prospective students in both the day and evening/continuing education divisions.
The liberal studies major ensures that students are broadly trained in areas that are tied to their academic interests or professional goals, and specifically trained in in how to integrate these areas of study to produce new knowledge and make sense of our complex world. Data show that the region, the nation and the world have high demand for students with the skills provided in a liberal studies major.
This major is appropriate for:
- first-time full-time students with varied academic and professional interests
- transfer students who wish to maximize their previously earned credits and/or are in the “Liberal Arts” transfer pathway from a community college in MA
- current SSU students who change their plan of study in a way that makes it difficult to complete a 4 year degree in four years in an existing major
- adult students with some college credit who desire a degree completion program.
The curriculum consists of the following:
- A set of two required 3-credit interdisciplinary studies courses:
- mid-level research and methods course, and
- a capstone seminar designed to provide students with the 21st century tools, skills and knowledge to integrate and synthesize varied disciplinary approaches, insights, and interests.
- A carefully selected set of 8-9 additional courses (24-27 credits) drawn from any department’s course offerings and clustered into two or three focus areas to align with student academic or professional goals.
The focus areas are chosen in consultation with and approved by an interdisciplinary studies department faculty advisor. Clusters must reflect 2 or 3 discrete disciplinary or thematic foci (such as gender, race, global affairs, religion, policy, law).
Students will cluster courses in ways that follow either an interdisciplinary thematic approach or existing patterns as laid out broadly by programs/majors/minors/concentrations offered at Salem State, e.g. one cluster in gender studies, one in business administration, one in Spanish.
Interdisciplinary Studies - 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 diverse peoples, societies, institutions, and cultures of the United States (often called “America”) past and present. At Salem State our program is marked most notably by a focus on: cultural diversity, power dynamics and systems of equity/inequity; “America” and “Americans” as part of a global system; civic engagement and social justice/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 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, policy analysis, 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 9 credits in support courses (support courses can overlap with General Education 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 IDS232 or IDS 333A as well as IDS 389 and IDS461. This sequence affords students an opportunity to understand the history and current focus of the field, master interdisciplinarity and complete a substantive original research project. In addition, students select a set of 4 elective coursesfrom offerings in more than ten departments in the arts, humanities and social sciences. This cluster constitutes a focus area and is designed in consultation with the program coordinatorto meet each student’s unique nees and interest.
Three 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, Media and Communications, Music and Dance, 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 opportunities for 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 foundational interdisciplinary American Studies course (IDS232) augmented by four courses selected from across the humanities and social sciences to meet the specific educational goals and interests of each student.
Interdisciplinary Studies Concentration
Kimberly Poitevin, Coordinator
The Interdisciplinary Studies (self-designed) 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 intellectual or professional objective. Any student interested in this concentration is required to meet with the Interdisciplinary Studies (self-designed) concentration coordinator for information regarding eligibility.It is strongly advised that students apply prior to completing 60 credits.
If eligible, the student will develop a formal proposal consisting of:1) a flowsheet and degree map laying out courses from across a range of departments and anchored by three Interdisciplinary Studies courses and 2) a narrative including a statement detailing the student’s goals which support the student-designed flowsheet and degree map. Once the proposal is completed, it is submitted to the Interdisciplinary Studies department for review and approval.
For further information regarding this concentration, consult the Coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Studies (self-designed) 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 285 Community Organizing I
IDS389 Research Methods in Interdisciplinary Studies
IDS 489 Senior Capstone in Interdisciplinary Studies
Electives (18 Credits)
In consultation with the program coordinator students choose electives from across the University that fit into a focus area suited to the student’s academic interests and goals. A list of focus areas to consider as well as a list of courses appropriate to specific focus areas 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 electives.
The Peace and Conflict Studies program also offers a periodic course fieldwork experience in the West African country of Liberia. The fieldwork component typically takes place in either the Winter Session or over Spring Break.
Interdisciplinary Studies Minors
The department offers interdisciplinary minors which generally consist of 15 credits and combine introductory interdisciplinary courses with electives selected from vetted courses in departments across campus. In most cases, up to three (3) credits in a student’s major may be used to satisfy a minor elective requirement. Minors offer integrated approaches to learning and often include components of community-based learning.
African American Studies
East European and Russian Studies
Latin American, Caribbean and Latinx Studies
Women’s and Gender Studies
African American Studies
The African-American Studies minor is interdepartmental in nature. The courses are offered jointly in their respective departments and under the auspices of the African-American Studies program. The central goal of the minor is to heighten students’ awareness of African-American contributions to the United States. African-American Studies courses are open to all students. To minor in African-American Studies, a student must take five elective courses from the approved list selected from across the university to meet their specific educational goals and interests. Elective courses must be from at least three different departments. Up to three (3) credits from a student’s major may be used to satisfy the minor
The American Studies minor exposes students to the methods, questions and materials of the field of American Studies, a discipline which uses the approaches and scholarship of many disciplines to explore the rich diversity of the United States as well as “American” cultural and national identity from local, regional and transnational vantage points. Students will investigate the range of people, places and ideas that make up “America’s” past and present and consider the various ways in which “American” identity has been constructed, contested, and transformed through formal and informal means in all areas of human activity. A foundational interdisciplinary American Studies course which focuses on equity and social justice is augmented by elective courses selected from across the university to meet the specific educational goals and interests of each student. Elective courses must be from at least three different departments. Up to three (3) credits from a student’s major may be used to satisfy the minor.
The Asian Studies minor is to help students at Salem State University gain a better knowledge of Asia. The minor consists of a coherent collection of courses leading to knowledge of the geographic, historical, social, legal, and cultural structures in Asia. It trains students to have both a historical understanding and a current knowledge of human development in Asia. The program has a strong local touch as it incorporates the history of Salem’s maritime trade with Asian countries such as China, Japan and India. The minor consists of 18 credits hours, with no more than 9 credits coming from any one discipline. Courses are chosen in consultation with the Asian Studies Program Coordinator. The minor covers three categories including 3 credits for the one required IDS capstone course, 9 credits from the core category, and 6 credits from the elective category. Courses in the core category may also be used to fulfill the elective requirement but the same courses cannot be used to satisfy both categories. Students must fulfill course requirements in all three categories in order to graduate with the Asian Studies minor. Students are urged to consult with the Asian Studies Program Coordinator as early as possible to work out a program plan for the Asian Studies minor. Courses in the major discipline may not be used to complete a minor.
East European and Russian Studies
This area-studies minor provides students the opportunity to explore aspects of the arts, cultures, histories, politics, societies, and thoughts of the peoples of Eastern Europe and Russia from an interdisciplinary perspective. Its chief purpose is to foster understanding of the region by recognizing its component diversity while deepening awareness of its often common experiences. For this minor, Eastern Europe and Russia are defined geographically, and respectively, as historically the lands east of the German and Italian states and west of the countries of the East Slavs, and as the territories that comprise the former Soviet Union.
The minor consists of 18 credits. The specific requirements of the program are as follows: all students will complete at least 6 credits in East European studies; at least 6 credits in Russian studies, and a total of 6 additional credits from one or both of the respective area studies. No individual course is mandatory for completion of the minor.
Latin American, Caribbean and Latinx Studies
Latin American, Caribbean and Latinx Studies
The Latin American, Caribbean and Latinx minor is designed to introduce students to an interdisciplinary study of the history, populations and cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the study of people of Latin American and Caribbean origin in the United States. A foundational interdisciplinary introductory course will explore the development and state of interdisciplinary studies in the field, the diverse nature of Latin American and Caribbean communities, and the experiences of different Latino groups in the United States. This course will be augmented by elective courses selected from across the university to meet the specific educational goals and interests of the student. Elective courses must be from at least three different departments. A student will focus on one of three tracks (Latin American Studies, Latinx Studies or Caribbean Studies) and will choose from lists of electives in these areas. Field study in Latin America, the Caribbean, or local and regional Latin American or Latinx organizations and communities is also encouraged. Substitutions to courses on the lists will be allowed if a significant portion of the coursework focuses on Latin America, the Caribbean or Latinx material. There is no language requirement for the minor, but students are encouraged to pursue the study of one or more of the languages and literatures of Latin America or the Caribbean (especially Spanish, French or Portuguese). Up to three (3) credits from a student’s major may be used to satisfy the minor.
This course of study is designed to introduce students to the interdisciplinary nature of law and the legal profession. This minor favors no specific major field, but draws on courses with the substantive content and study skills which are recommended by the American Bar Association as especially desirable for prospective law students. A foundational interdisciplinary Legal Studies course is augmented by elective courses selected from across the university to meet the specific educational goals and interests of each student. Up to three (3) credits from a student’s major may be used to satisfy the minor.
The Peace Studies minor offers a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of peace, war and social justice. This program presents students with a broad, integrative perspective on the study of peace that emphasizes an understanding of recent history, contemporary social/political problems and ethical values. The aim of courses taken in the Peace Studies minor is to prepared students to exercise informed judgement about issues related to peace, war and social justice. The foundational interdisciplinary Peace and Peacebuilding course is augmented by elective courses selected from across the university to meet the specific educational goals and interests of each student. Up to three (3) credits from a student’s major may be used to satisfy the minor.
The Religious Studies minor offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of religion as a human endeavor. The minor requires a total of five courses. Students are required to take one foundational Interdisciplinary course in Comparative Religion which presents students with a broad, integratie perspective on religion. The course is augmented by elective courses selected from across the university to meet the specific educational goals and interests of each student. Up to three (3) credits from a student’s major may be used to satisfy the minor.
The Urban Studies minor offers students an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the urban setting. Faculty members from a wide variety of disciplines within the social sciences and humanities assist students in examining how cities have evolved through time, identifying problems and opportunities associated with urban life, and exploring strategies for the reconstruction of the contemporary city. Although the primary focus is on urban affairs, considerable attention is also devoted to suburban topics in many courses.
The Urban Studies minor also aims to enhance student’s qualifications for employment in such fields as urban and regional planning, state and local government, law and public policy, business, social work, criminal justice and housing and community development. In addition, the minor provides valuable preparation for graduate work in a number of urban studies disciplines such as geography, history, political science and sociology. Students who choose to minor in Urban Studies will be required to complete two core courses and four elective courses from at least two specific categories described in detail in the program of study in the course catalog.
Women’s and Gender Studies
Women’s and Gender Studies is an academic field devoted to the study women, gender, and sexuality from an interdisciplinary perspective. Students in the minor develop critical perspectives and analytical frameworks to understand how institutions, cultures, representations, and power dynamics have shaped women’s lives and gender identities in the United States and around the world. Courses within the minor invite studies to examine the complex ways gender and sexuality intersect with race, ethnicity, nation, religion, ability, and other categories of identity. In so doing, the minor equips students with the ability to recognize, critique, and address social inequalities in a variety of contexts. A foundational interdisciplinary Women’s and Gender Studies course is augmented by elective courses selected from across the university to meet the specific educational goals and interests of each student. Up to three (3) credits from a student’s major may be used to satisfy the minor.