Frequently Asked Questions about Integrated Studies

Why should I take three interrelated courses on a single topic or time period?

To learn how to “connect the dots”—to see connections and relationships that other people miss.

All of the individual courses in each Integrated Study have been designed to complement one another; each course brings a distinct, disciplinary focus to the complex phenomena that the Integrated Study as a whole aims to explore. Taking all three courses together introduces you to the kind of flexible, interdisciplinary thinking you will ultimately need to understand our complicated and rapidly changing world.

How will taking an Integrated Study help me find my place at Colby?

Taking three courses with the same students and professors, you will immediately become part of an intellectual community in a positive and welcoming learning environment. Beyond the Integrated Study, you will meet new friends in your dorm, and through all kinds of activities, including athletic teams, clubs, musical groups, volunteer organizations, and your fourth class.

How will taking an Integrated Study help me progress towards my degree?

In two ways. First, each Integrated Study satisfies four all-college distribution requirements, including the first-year writing requirement. The distribution requirements direct students to take courses that provide a broad introduction to knowledge in many fields; students are normally expected to complete these in the first two years. Integrated Studies enable you to fulfill these requirements in a focused and intentional way that helps you to make connections across disciplines.

Second, each Integrated Study introduces you to two or three academic disciplines and may help you discover the joys of a field you had never previously studied. In addition, each Integrated Study includes courses that will count towards one or more majors.

How can I take an Integrated Studies cluster and also major in one of the natural sciences?

The key is to take the introductory course to your preferred science as your fourth course in the first semester and then to work closely with your academic adviser to choose carefully your JanPlan and spring semester courses.

How will Integrated Studies help me get a job?

Employers seek workers who can add value that others cannot. If you can “connect the dots” that others cannot, if you can work with others to develop and refine ideas, and if you can communicate effectively orally and in writing, then you will be able to add value to any enterprise. Each Integrated Study is designed to cultivate these skills in a challenging yet supportive academic environment.

Are Integrated Studies only for first-year students?

No! Although the Fall 2018 Integrated Studies are designed primarily for first-year students, more advanced students have sometimes enrolled in Integrated Studies and have had very positive experiences. Faculty members can accommodate advanced students by designing different assignments or evaluating work at a higher standard, to ensure that students are being challenged at the appropriate level.

The Integrated Studies program has also sponsored senior level, team-taught seminars on significant topics in the humanities, and we will offer more such advanced seminars in the coming years. These seminars provide a context in which students can return to interdisciplinary study of a carefully focused topic later in their college careers, engaging that topic with the greater intellectual sophistication and rigor that their studies have enabled.

Why would anyone not want to take an Integrated Study?

No idea. Who doesn’t want to be able to see connections that others miss?

Seriously, the Integrated Studies program provides a concentrated introduction to so much of what is distinctively great about Colby—small classes with faculty who care deeply about your personal development; a broad, rich, and deep engagement with new and complex ideas; and a challenging yet supportive academic environment.