December 04, 2015, BY Heather Johns

What classes? Integrated Perspectives

Who teaches them? Faculty from two different disciplines as a team, including Professor Ned Ladd, physics & astronomy

"There are 11 Integrated Perspectives (IP) courses this fall and 12 more in the spring — all team-taught by faculty from two different disciplines. These courses lead students on an investigation of complex, real-world issues with the guidance of faculty who have widely different disciplinary perspectives.

"In Weird Art, an English professor (G.C. Waldrep) smashes raw eggs with a hammer while an art professor (Roger Rothman) leads a debate as to whether this act is really art. In Religion and Science, a physics professor (Tom Solomon) argues the limits of science while a religious studies professor (Carol Wayne White) comments on the differences between scientific theory and religious belief. In Ethics of Climate Change, a philosophy professor (Matthew Slater) leads a discussion about how much we owe to future generations while a geography professor (Duane Griffin) helps students understand the modeling of the earth's climate.

"Looking at a complex issue from multiple disciplinary perspectives helps students recognize that simple interpretations are woefully inadequate, and that the same issue can look very different to different people. Such a 'stereo view' helps students to understand that there is no single 'right' viewpoint, and it forces them to construct their own understanding of an issue.

"Having two professors in the room means there are often two expert opinions, and sometimes those opinions won't be the same. Students need to actively participate — not just to engage with the material, but to construct and revise their own independent understanding. No longer is it sufficient just to write down what the professor says. It's open season on almost every idea.

"All sophomores in the College of Arts & Sciences are required to take an IP course as part of their College Core Curriculum general education requirements. This is a new requirement; the Class of 2018 is the first to be required to take this course. Roughly half of the sophomore class is enrolled in a fall IP course, and the remainder will choose from a different suite of IP courses in the spring.

"No other institution has a program quite like this, and absolutely nobody is doing it on this scale." 

Are we missing out on a cool class? Send suggestions to heather.johns@bucknell.edu.

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