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Interdisciplinary Studies Major

Pursue a singular purpose across multiple disciplines

The primary purpose of the Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS) major is to provide students with an opportunity to develop a set of courses around interests that are not well addressed by other majors in the college. A student may not be admitted into the major when entering the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The change to the major evolves after a student finds his or her interests diverging from the current major, and when a clear idea of a new educational objective is realized.

Major in Interdisciplinary Studies

As is the case for other majors, there needs to be educational goals and a set of courses that will meet these goals. Unlike other majors where these goals and courses are established by faculty, students are responsible for developing their goals and courses. Faculty advisors can help with this. Generally, students should be drawing courses from across multiple disciplines. It also is expected that the courses taken will move from general introductory courses to advanced courses with greater focus and depth.

There must be a faculty advisor identified by the student willing to help with the proposed program. All CALS faculty can serve as advisors for this major. The Declaration of Intent form should be submitted by students after an advisor is identified. A student may choose to keep their current advisor or may choose a new advisor. Assistance identifying an appropriate faculty advisor is available by scheduling an appointment with a Student Services academic advisor.

Can a student be admitted into the major when entering the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences?

No. The change to the major evolves after a student finds his or her interest diverging from the current major, and when an idea of a new educational objective is emerging.

What are the requirements for the major?

In the Declaration of Intent on the right side of this page, a student will be required to outline their focus area (five or more courses at the 3000+ level.)  In addition, students fulfill the CALS Distribution requirements that provide students with academic breadth in the following areas:

Physical and Life Sciences
Social Sciences and Humanities, in preparation for ethical decision-making
Written and Oral Expression, to ensure clear and confident articulation of ideas
 

What is the purpose of the major?

The primary purpose of the Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS) major is to provide students with an opportunity to develop a set of courses around interests that are not well addressed by other majors in the college.

As is the case for other majors, the student should define educational goals and a set of courses that will meet these goals. Generally, students should be drawing courses from across multiple disciplines. It also is expected that the courses taken will move from general introductory courses to advanced courses with greater focus and depth.

What are some examples of how students have used the major?

Science and art; music and business management/entrepreneurship; food science and marketing; sports, nutrition, business and education; education/law/psychology, viticulture and business, international and environmental planning; pre-med and engineering; biology and animal science.

Can a student have two majors including IDS as one?

No, but students can complete one or more minor(s) . Cornell Concurrent Degrees are not permitted with IDS.

What steps are required to change into the major?

A faculty advisor willing to help with the proposed program must be identified by the student. Students may begin the conversation with their current advisor. The educational program proposal (Declaration of Intent, found on right side of page) will be submitted to the Advising Coordinator, Lisa Ryan, 140 Roberts Hall.

Does the major have learning outcomes?

Yes. See Achieving IDS Learning Outcomes

Who can advise students majoring in IDS in CALS?

All CALS advisors may, and most have advised in IDS. Students may speak to their current advisor or another CALS advisor in one of the subject areas of interest. CALS Student Services and Advising Coordinator Lisa Ryan have a list of active and interested IDS advisors.

What have IDS majors done after graduating from CALS?

See our graduate outcomes page.

What will grad schools think of my major? / Will employers understand my major?

Using the Declaration of Intent, Achieving Learning Outcomes and conversations with his or her advisor, a student will be able to articulate an educational objective, areas of focus and how courses, activities and experiences support a career goal. Career counseling services are recommended through CALS Student Services, 140 Roberts Hall.

 

  1. Demonstrate the ability to use information, concepts, analytical approaches, and critical thinking skills involved in one or more disciplines through a set of increasingly specialized courses.
  2. Ability to use information acquisition skills (i.e. library, databases, internet, surveys, interviews) required by the disciplines developed for the major.
  3. Developing quantitative skills appropriate for the disciplines.
  4. Effectively use professional skills:
  • Taking responsibility (self-motivation, ethical behavior, managing time)
  • Write and speak clearly (legibly) and persuasively with individuals and groups
  • Working effectively with others (building good relationships, effective leadership and team member, influencing others, managing others)
  • Asking and answering the right questions (apply knowledge, evaluate actions and policies, paying attention to details)
  • Solving problems (identify problems, develop solutions, launch solutions)
  1. College learning outcomes.
  • Explain, evaluate, and effectively interpret factual claims, theories and assumptions in the student’s discipline(s) (especially in one or more of the college’s priority areas of land-grant agricultural sciences, applied social sciences, environmental sciences and/or life sciences) and more broadly in the sciences and humanities
  • Find, access, critically evaluate, and ethically use information
  • Integrate quantitative and qualitative information to reach defensible and creative conclusions
  • Communicate effectively through writing, speech, and visual information
  • Articulate the views of people with diverse perspectives
  • Demonstrate the capability to work both independently and in cooperation with others
  • Apply methods of sustainability to the analysis of one or more major challenges facing humans and the Earth's resources.