Interdisciplinary Education – ISAT example

Mike’s post about interdisciplinary versus multidisciplinary made me think a bit (and comment).  After commenting, I realized that I wanted to share an example of an interdisciplinary educational approach close to us – JMU’s ISAT program.  My sister happens to have graduated from this program, back in 1999 (I believe she was in the second or third graduating class).

At the time, I was just starting college and I remember thinking “Wow! What a neat program to provide well rounded education!”  but I was at a different university and on a different path, so I haven’t though much more about it.  However, being in this class makes me want to explore ISAT’s approach more carefully.  I’m curious how successful it’s been, what the student experience is like versus a standard major, etc.  Based on their growth and continued success (merged with a new Engineering department, graduated over 1000 majors, enrollment of more than 800 undergrads), I’d say it’s a successful approach!  I’m sure the program isn’t unique – I’d love to hear about examples of similar undergraduate interdisciplinary majors like ISAT, or graduate for that matter…ASPECT comes to mind, but beyond that I don’t know of others here at Tech.

Part of the reason I’m curious to hear feedback is that I’m surprised this kind of field-integration hasn’t seemed to gain more traction in the last decade.  That being said, it looks like the ISAT program has grown hugely and done well for JMU, but what about growth of that type of department in other universities?  Perhaps my perception is skewed because I’ve been removed from undergraduate programs for a decade myself – maybe there are more out there than I realize.


About Cat Cowan

2nd year DVM/PhD student at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. Studying immunology, vet medicine and aiming to stay in academia.
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