Integrated Studies

Integrated Studies is an innovative academic program designed to introduce students to methods of interdisciplinary analysis and interpretation and to encourage them to use these methods to explore important questions about varied aspects of human experience. Taken together, integrated studies courses provide a strong foundation in the liberal arts, on which students can build during their four years at Colby. The program is supported by grants from the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation of New York.

Each year the program organizes several clusters of two or three courses that focus on a relatively brief historical period, studying that era from the perspectives of different disciplines. Students must sign up for all courses in the cluster. Integrated studies clusters allow students to explore a subject in great depth, working closely with a team of faculty members in small, seminar-style classes. Students learn how to gain mastery of an important topic in considerable depth and from varied points of view. At the same time, the clusters provide a coherent context in which students can explore vital questions about human experience, pursuing an understanding of moral, political, aesthetic, spiritual, and epistemological issues as they are relevant to the cluster topic.

This intensive experience enables students to develop important intellectual capacities, including training in both disciplinary and interdisciplinary critical thinking and problem solving, critical writing, and meaningful participation in small-group discussions. Most clusters also fulfill several all-College area distribution requirements, providing a broad, interdisciplinary liberal arts foundation for students’ subsequent work at Colby.

The courses within each cluster, which have no prerequisites, are described in the list of courses and are cross-listed in their respective departmental sections of this catalogue. Each course is offered for four credit hours. Enrollment in first-year clusters is limited to 16 students.


Coordinator, Professor Margaret McFadden