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Interdisciplinary Studies in Liberal Arts

College of Liberal Arts

Interdisciplinary Studies in Liberal Arts provides a wider perspective and broader educational experiences than more traditional majors. The path you follow in this degree is driven by your own interests, questions and career aspirations. 

San Luis Obispo, California

The curriculum consists of a common set of core courses plus electives tailored to your individualized plan of study. You will also have a large number of free electives that allow you to focus on the issues, problems and skills you are passionate about.

Interdisciplinary Studies Curriculum

Interdisciplinary Studies in Liberal Arts currently utilizes emphasis areas rather than formal concentrations. 

Arts & The Human Experience

This emphasis area will help you develop a critical lens and aesthetic appreciation for diverse works of literature and visual and performing arts. By interpreting and analyzing such works, you will deepen your empathy and respect for a wide array of human experiences and expressions.

Ethics, Law & Justice

This emphasis area examines how historical and contemporary social forces influence the legal system and how law affects society. You will analyze and evaluate how personal and societal value systems, as well as identities and their intersections, shape attitudes towards and treatment within the legal and judiciary systems.

Global Studies

This emphasis area prepares you for an increasingly globalized and interconnected world. You will identify, describe and analyze the diversity of the world’s peoples, cultures, religions and languages from contemporary and historical perspectives. You will also analyze and evaluate transnational processes and connections.

Health, Culture & Society

In this emphasis area you will examine the social and societal dimensions of mental and physical health. You will investigate how gender, race, social class, sexuality and ethnicity shape health, as well as the political, ethical, environmental, cultural and social influences on health and health institutions.

Science, Technology & Society

In this emphasis area you will investigate and analyze the complex relationships between science, technology and society. You will identify, assess and develop solutions to complex problems transcending the traditional divide between the humanities and social sciences and scientific, technical and professional fields.

Social Sustainability

This emphasis area challenges you to conceptualize, understand and analyze issues of sustainability from social, cultural and environmental perspectives.  It reflects the idea that long-term sustainability requires attention to social equity, cultural preservation and economic development as well as to environmental stewardship.

Technology & Human Expression

In this emphasis area you will examine the ways technology shapes how humans communicate and express themselves, as well as how social and societal forces shape the development of communication technologies.  This perspective will inform your own use of expressive technologies and their critical engagement with these technologies.

About the Program

Interdisciplinary Studies in Liberal Arts allows you to combine the best of several subject areas around a single theme to tackle the global challenges we face today.

As part of the major, you'll select one of seven emphasis areas to help focus your work and empower you to change the world. In each area of emphasis, you will learn to critically and creatively think and communicate across disciplines in order to take a holistic approach to problem solving. This could mean understanding the interconnections of film and social justice or developing better social and policy responses to future health or climate challenges. In interdisciplinary studies, you will engage in research projects and other activities that will help you develop the intellectual and practical skills necessary to create a more inclusive, just and equitable world.

Learn by Doing

From researching how race impacts the justice system to developing tools to allow the public greater understanding of emerging sciences and technologies, you will find many opportunities to engage in hands-on learning. This may mean working with a nonprofit in developing tools to illustrate the consequences of global climate change. It could mean researching and accessing methods of scientific testimony to the California legislature. Interdisciplinary studies allows you to decide what you want to study and encourages hands-on research and internships. 

Still image from a student film of a young child sitting on a curb next to a caregiver who is holding a skateboard.

Make a Short Film

Write the script for and produce a short fictional film or documentary, like the students in ISLA 341 class. 

Watch their Short Cuts

Our Graduates

Broad-based training in interdisciplinary studies develops the essential skills desired by employers and prepares our graduates for their future careers.

This includes a vast range of fields, including business, education, the arts, public administration, advocacy, law and more. Our alumni have also been accepted into graduate programs in divinity, environmental studies, health professions, humanities, interdisciplinary studies, law, management and social sciences.