Back to University Catalog 2004-2005

Interdisciplinary Studies
College of Liberal Arts        
                                                Department of Interdisciplinary Studies

Bachelor of Arts

Civilizations Concentration

Environmental Studies Concentration

PACE/General Area Concentration

Human Studies Concentration



Environmental Studies

Human Studies

Science, Technology and Society

Thematic Project



David Heifetz, Department Chair

David Brest, Myrna Donahoe, Lorna Fitzsimmons, Cathy Jacobs, Gary R. Levine, Linda Pomerantz, Frank Stricker

Marilyn Brady, PACE Coordinator

Jeanne Butler, Program Secretary

Program Office:  SBS B-232, (310) 243-3649, (310) 243-3640


Program Description

Interdisciplinary Studies requires the completion of an Area of Concentration, which unlike traditional majors, does not contain a list of required and elective courses. Rather, students work with an Interdisciplinary Studies mentor to build their individual program of studies.  Each of the Areas of Concentration provides a structural framework that defines the types and numbers of courses which may be chosen to develop the major.  Appropriate courses may be chosen from departments throughout the university as well as from the Interdisciplinary Studies course offerings.  Similarly, the minor also is  designed for the individual student using Interdisciplinary Studies and other appropriate courses.



Interdisciplinary Studies was established in 1972 to provide alternative programs and courses in undergraduate Liberal Arts and Sciences. Interdisciplinary Studies offers students alternative majors (called “Areas of Concentration”), and alternative minors through course work or through the thematic  project.  All Interdisciplinary Studies programs are tailored to fit the individual needs of each student through the assistance of an Interdisciplinary Studies faculty mentor.

These programs allow students to pursue majors and/or minors which are individually designed within the liberal arts and sciences and allow students to choose courses from one of several departments throughout the campus.  These combinations build an integrated major (or minor) that can provide special preparation for entrance into graduate or professional schools or can help prepare for a particular area in the world of work.

Interdisciplinary Studies classes emphasize discussion, student participation, writing, and critical reasoning.

Another feature of Interdisciplinary Studies not found in traditional programs is the Thematic Project.  It allows students to develop a creative or research project of significant scope that leads to a valuable product.  Students have used this opportunity to carry out such diverse projects as writing a novel, apprenticing in England to study construction of early musical instruments, producing films and video productions, and reporting on the education of immigrant children in the Los Angeles area.  A Thematic Project may be used to meet the requirement for a minor or a student may use elective units to develop an intensive study in an area of interest.


Program for Adult College Education (PACE)

PACE is designed to assist students who must work full time while trying to complete their college educations.  The program, which exists in various forms at several colleges and universities throughout the country, recognizes that increasing numbers of adults are returning to school for intellectual growth, personal development and enhanced career opportunities.  PACE students at California State University, Dominguez Hills usually have completed most of their lower division requirements when they enter the program. They are highly motivated people with limited amounts of time to allocate to their educations and thus want to make the best use of that time.

PACE provides an accessible and intellectually rigorous academic major in Interdisciplinary Studies.  In addition, PACE students need to complete a minor and any other courses necessary to complete the bachelor’s degree.  Another element of PACE is a strong support base of academic advisors, counsellors and administrators who understand the needs and concerns of the working adult student and help them to complete their studies in an efficient and educationally rich manner.  Courses are scheduled in sequences and at times and locations convenient to many working adults.  Currently, classes are available both on campus and off campus in the evenings and on campus Saturdays and Sundays in a weekend college format.  Students are advised to pursue either a part-time or full-time course of study, depending on their individual needs.  Faculty members are chosen who appreciate the special challenges presented to these students as they pursue their educations.  PACE students are given assistance in integrating their courses of study with their work, family and social obligations.  The course scheduling and advising are designed to allow PACE students to finish the junior and senior year requirements, when appropriate, for the degree in five to six semesters rather than the four to five years that are typical for part-time students.


Academic Advising

Interdisciplinary Studies provides each student with an Interdisciplinary Studies mentor, a person who will assist the student in choosing classes, in defining a direction for the program of studies, and in coping with problems associated with both traditional and nontraditional areas of university life. A mentor is a current faculty member who is teaching regularly in Interdisciplinary Studies.  The mentor will usually have special interest and expertise in areas that coincide with the interests of his/her advisees.  An Interdisciplinary Studies mentor will expect to meet with each of his or her students at least once each semester to discuss progress-to-date and to plan the next semester’s course of study.  Students are encouraged to see their mentors more often during the school year as problems, concerns and new ideas arise.



Interdisciplinary Studies allows students to design their own majors and minors; it is open to all students who are admitted to the University. Students who find that the regular programs of the campus do not meet their specific needs should contact the Interdisciplinary Studies Office for an appointment with an Interdisciplinary Studies mentor.


Career Possibilities and Graduate School

Interdisciplinary Studies provides one of the best modes for students who are not in one of the “professional studies” areas to prepare for a career following graduation. Throughout the design of the individual program, the student and his/her mentor will discuss “after college” plans.  If it is determined that it will be necessary for the student to pursue an advanced degree (master’s degree, law degree, doctoral program), then the most appropriate undergraduate courses for entrance into and success in that graduate program will be built into the undergraduate major.  In other cases, a student may wish to add one or more professional courses to his/her Interdisciplinary Studies program to prepare for a particular career field to be entered upon completion of the bachelor’s degree.  In all cases, the ultimate use of the undergraduate degree earned from CSU Dominguez Hills through Interdisciplinary Studies will be constantly assessed during the development of that degree so that the student is as fully prepared as possible to enter a career directly or to continue his/her education in graduate school.  As future needs are discovered, the mentor will assist the student in choosing appropriate courses, internships or other undergraduate preparations to meet those needs.

Graduates from the Interdisciplinary Studies Program successfully have completed law school, have careers in teaching, counseling, personnel management and computer engineering.  While the majority of graduates continue their educations in graduate or professional schools, many have opened their own successful businesses or have taken positions of their choice in all areas of commerce, industry and the arts.


Graduation With Honors

An undergraduate student may be a candidate for graduation with Honors in Interdisciplinary Studies provided he or she meets the following criteria:

1.   A minimum of 36 units in residence at CSU Dominguez Hills;

2.   A minimum grade point average of at least 3.5 in all courses used to satisfy the upper division requirements in the major;

3.   Recommendation by the faculty in the department or program in which the honors are to be awarded.


Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies

Total Course Requirements for the Bachelor's Degree

See the "Requirements for the Bachelor's Degree" in the University Catalog for complete details on general degree requirements.  A minimum of 40 units, including those required for the major, must be upper division. 


Elective Requirements

Completion of elective courses (beyond the requirements listed below) to reach a total of a minimum of 120 units.


General Education Requirements (54-60 units)

See the "General Education" requirements in the University Catalog or the Class Schedule for the most current information on General Education requirements and course offerings.


United States History, Constitution and American Ideals Requirement (6 units)

See the "United States History, Constitution, and American Ideals" requirements in the University Catalog.  Courses used to satisfy this requirement do not apply to General Education .


Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement

See the "Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement" in the University Catalog.


Minor Requirements

Student completing this major will need to complete a minor in another field.


Major Requirements (33 units)

This major also requires that a student choose a Field of Emphasis that is analogous to a concentration or option within a traditional major.  Each Area of Concentration consists of a minimum of 33 semester units that are grouped in a unique structure. 

Common to each of the Areas of Concentration is the following:

o    There must be a minimum of 24 semester units of upper division course work, except for the General Area of Concentration (PACE) which requires a minimum of 27 units of upper division course work;

o    A minimum of 12 semester units of courses used to fulfill the Area of Concentration must be appropriate Interdisciplinary Studies courses;

o    A minimum of 15 units of course work must be completed after the student has entered the Interdisciplinary Studies program and has agreed on the Area of Concentration with his/her Interdisciplinary Studies mentor except for the General Area of Concentration which requires a minimum of 18 units;

o    A grade of “C” or better is required for all courses used to complete an Interdisciplinary Studies Area of Concentration; and  prior to the final approval of the Area of Concentration, the student must develop a brief essay explaining the thematic rationale for his/her Field of Emphasis within the Area of Concentration. The completed program is then reviewed by the core faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies who must approve the program before it is submitted to meet graduation requirements.


Area of Concentration in Civilizations  (33 units)

Field of Emphasis

Twenty-one semester units are chosen by the student, with the assistance of a faculty mentor.  These courses form a closely related cluster or sequence of courses that cross the lines of several disciplines.  The field of emphasis provides an interdisciplinary study of the thought and institutions of one or more cultures from one or more time periods.


Related Field

Twelve semester units of courses, which relate to the Field of Emphasis, are chosen by the student with the assistance of a faculty mentor. “Related” is defined in any defensible way.  For instance, it can be an area similar to the Field of Emphasis, but from a different focus, a different culture or time period, or from a comparative perspective.


Area of Concentration in Environmental Studies
(33 units)

Background Courses

At least 12 semester units of appropriate courses are chosen from the natural and social sciences which provide a basis for the successful completion of courses in the Field of Emphasis.

Perspectives in Science

At least six semester units are chosen from courses that are concerned with the impact, history or philosophy of science.

Field of Emphasis

Building upon the structure of the background courses, at least 15 semester units of upper division courses are chosen that form a cohesive field of study involving the scientific, technological and/or social aspects of an environmental issue.

It should be noted that appropriate upper division courses for this Area of Concentration may require additional prerequisites that must be taken in addition to the background courses.


PACE/General Area of Concentration (33 units)

Thirty-three semester units are chosen from the Liberal Arts and Sciences with a minimum of nine semester units selected from each of three main areas of humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.

Field of Emphasis

At least 15 semester units used to complete the General Area of Concentration must be chosen to form an integrated, thematic focus.

Because of the less structured nature of this Area of Concentration, students must complete a minimum of 27 units of upper division course work and must complete a minimum of 18 units of course work after the student has been assigned a mentor for advisement.


Area of Concentration in Human Studies (33 units)

Background Courses

o    A minimum of three semester units of METHODS courses;

o    A minimum of three semester units of THEORY courses;  and 

o    From six to 12 semester units of courses designated as TOPICS courses, as required, to bring the total number of units in the Area of Concentration to 33 semester units.

Field of Emphasis

Fifteen to 21 semester units to form an integrated, thematic focus within the area of Human Studies, are chosen with the assistance of an Interdisciplinary Studies mentor.


Minor in Interdisciplinary Studies (15 units)

Interdisciplinary Studies offers four minors, plus a Thematic Project, which may serve in lieu of a required minor.  All minors require a minimum of 15 semester units, at least six units of which must be from Interdisciplinary Studies Courses, and at least 12 units of which must be upper division.  As with Interdisciplinary Studies Areas of Concentration, students must develop a brief essay that explains the thematic rationale used to develop the minor. Each student’s minor is reviewed and approved by Interdisciplinary Studies core faculty prior to submission to meet graduation requirements.

At least three of the courses (9 units) used by the student to complete the minor must be taken after the student has chosen the minor and has been advised by an Interdisciplinary Studies mentor.

A grade of “C” or better is required for all courses used in Interdisciplinary Studies minors.


Minor in Civilizations (15 units)

The Minor in Civilizations consists of a minimum of 15 semester units that allow the student to study the development of ideas and institutions of Western Civilization or of a non-Western culture.


Minor in Environmental Studies (15 units)

The Minor in Environmental Studies consists of a minimum of
15 semester units of courses which must form an integrated theme in Environmental Studies.


Minor in Human Studies (15 units)

The Minor in Human Studies consists of a minimum of 15 semester units of courses, which must include at least three semester units of METHODS or three semester units of THEORY courses. 
At least 12 units of the minor must form an integrated theme in
an appropriate area relevant to human studies.


Minor in Science, Technology and Society (15 units)

The Minor in Science, Technology and Society consists of  a minimum of 15 semester units of courses, which must include at least one course dealing with the impact, philosophy or history of science and/or technology.  At least 12 units must form an integrated theme in an area relevant to the relationship of science and/or technology with society.  In some cases, it may be necessary to take additional courses that are prerequisite to upper division science courses chosen to complete the minor.


Thematic Project (15 units)

The Thematic Project is an individually-designed and substantial body of work on a particular theme that leads to the production of an evaluable product (such as a research paper of publishable quality, a film, a dramatic production).  The Thematic Project normally consists of four parts.

1.  The Proposal (1 unit)

2.  Course work as needed (variable unit requirement)

3.  Fieldwork/Research (variable unit requirement)

4.  Final Product (variable unit requirement)

Each project is individually designed by the student and his/her Thematic Project Advisor.  The Thematic Project Proposal is reviewed and ultimately approved by a Thematic Project Committee.


Course Offerings

The credit value for each course in semester units is indicated for each term
by a number in parentheses following the title.  Departments may indicate the term
in which they expect to offer the course by the use of:  “F” (fall), “S” (spring) or “EOY” (every other year).


Lower Division

IDS 255     Language and Methods of Science (3) FS.

Prerequisites:  Completion of General Education science and math courses.

An interdisciplinary course designed to prepare students, at a level beyond General Education, to take upper division courses in Interdisciplinary Studies majors.  Topics include scientific nomenclature, graphs and charts and operational mathematics. 


Upper Division

IDS 320     Interdisciplinary Topics in Human Studies (3) FS.

Provides an in-depth study of a topic in human behavior and attitudes.  The topic will be examined using interdisciplinary perspectives.  Examples of topics include class and careers, immigration and cultural impact and poverty.  Repeatable course.  Three hours of seminar per week.

IDS 326     Perspectives in Human Studies (3) FS. 

Special Topics course using nonstandard times and/or days to explore issues in the human behavior and attitudes.  Repeatable course. 

IDS 330     Interdisciplinary Topics in Civilizations (3) FS. 

Provides an in-depth analysis of a major topic in the history of ideas and  institutions through the study of the topic in relation to the disciplines relevant to the topic.  Sample topics include archetypal patterns in literature and history of modern thought.  Repeatable course.  

IDS 336     Perspectives in Civilizations (3) FS. 

Special Topics course using nonstandard times and/or days to explore issues in the history of ideas and institutions.  Repeatable course.  

IDS 350     Interdisciplinary Topics in Science, Technology, and the Environment (3) FS. 

Prerequisites:  Lower division General Education science courses.

Provides an in-depth investigation into a topic in science and/or technology, insights into the relationships of different disciplines and an understanding of the methods of scientific exploration.  Topics include scientific reasoning, technology and society, and environmental studies. Repeatable for credit as long as course topics are different.

IDS 380     Portfolio Preparation (1) FS.

Prerequisite: Completion of 30 units in residence prior to assessment.

Supervised preparation of a Portfolio to Assess Prior Learning.  CR/NC grading.

IDS 382     Assessment of Prior Learning (1-11) FS. 

Prerequisite:  Completion of 30 units in residence prior to assessment.

Evaluation of Portfolio of Prior Learning. Prior learning is evaluated for credit by faculty experts in various departments. Credit may be used as elective units or, on approval of Department Chair, as part of requirements for a major or a minor. CR/NC grading.  Repeatable course.  

IDS 397     Writing Adjunct (2) FS.

Prerequisites: ENG 100 and ENG 101 or IDS 107.

Individualized instruction in expository writing taught in conjunction with papers assigned in other courses.  Individual tutorial sessions and classroom lectures and workshops are employed.  CR/NC grading.  Repeatable course. 

IDS 398     Writing Adjunct (Competency Certification) (2) FS.

Prerequisite: IDS 397.

Individualized instruction in expository writing taught in conjunction with papers assigned in other courses.  Individual tutorial sessions and classroom lectures and workshops are employed.  In-class essay writing and Cooperative Essay Exam. CR/NC grading. 

IDS 491     Thematic Project: Proposal (1) FS.

Prerequisite:  Consent of instructor.

Supervised development of a proposal which describes the Thematic Project.  Proposal will define a problem, outline means to solve problem and describe the final product resulting from the project.  Completed proposal contain advisor’s justification and will be approved by committee.  CR/NC grading.

IDS 492     Thematic Project: Fieldwork/Research (1,2,4) FS.

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

Supervised activity in fieldwork and/or research necessary to carry through a thematic project.  Repeatable course.  

IDS 493     Thematic Project: Final Product (1,2,4) FS.

Prerequisite:  Consent of instructor.

Supervised activity in preparation of the final product necessary to carry through a thematic project.  Repeatable course. 

IDS 494     Independent Study (2,3) FS.

Independent pursuit of a topic or project which is proposed by the student. Study must be interdisciplinary and must be approved, in advance, by faculty member supervising study.  Repeatable course.


Infrequently Offered Courses

The following courses are scheduled on a "demand" basis.  Students should consult the department office for information about the next schedule offering. 

IDS 006     Intensive Writing Skills Workshop (3) FS. 

An individualized, self-study program
in the basic skills of English Composition, emphasizing the construction of sound sentences and paragraphs and requiring journal writing, in-class essays and one longer essay.  Each student will work on appropriate modules in the Learning Assistance Center.  CR/NC grading.  Repeatable course. 

IDS 107     Writing Adjunct (2) FS. 

Prerequisite:  Pass EPT or equivalent.

Individualized instruction in expository writing taught in conjunction with papers assigned in other courses.  Individual tutorial sessions and classroom lectures and workshops are employed.  CR/NC grading.  Repeatable course. 

IDS 360     Special Studies in Civilizations (1-3) (Summer). 

Prerequisites:  Upper division status and permission of instructor.

This course will investigate one or more special topics in Western and/or Non Western civilizations. Instruction will usually include off-campus activity such
as, but not limited to, foreign travel.  Repeatable course.