Advanced Integration

A reflection on the interconnectedness of varied approaches

At the end of USD's academic experience, students and faculty connect ideas across disciplines, synthesize disparate areas of knowledge, and pose the "big questions." Core Curriculum components connect and build on one another and integrative learning is an approach that creates an opportunity for students to make connections among ideas and experiences to synthesize knowledge.

How are students prepared for Advanced Integration?

In first-year integration students practice recognizing and articulating connections between multiple disciplines, perspectives and/or approaches to learning. They are also prompted to reflect on how these connections can enhance one’s understanding of practical issues and problems. There are two major academic events designed to help students achieve initial benchmarks of integration: Open Classroom or Interdisciplinary Faculty Exchange allow students to practice integration and while the First-Year Integration Project, which includes presenting at the Integration Showcase, allows them to demonstrate their understanding of integration. For more information, visit the First-Year Integration page.

Learn to Synthesize and Apply

Focus is placed on drawing meaningful connections between diverse perspectives to enhance the overall body of knowledge and applying these perspectives in a form appropriate to the students' particular academic discipline.

Integrative Core Project

The Integrative Core Project is the culminating experience for students nearing the completion of their core curriculum. Courses meeting Advanced Integration through this Core Project may be courses within the major or outside of the major. Students are asked to build on the integrative learning they experienced during First-Year Integration to further apply and synthesize integrative concepts at this advanced level. The Integrative Core Project prompts students to make connections between disciplines, apply knowledge in a variety of contexts, or make connections between curricular and co-curricular activities in order to synthesize Core competencies.

Class Formats

The Advanced Integration requirement can be met through a variety of possible courses and experiences; the most ideal of which are team-taught or linked/cluster courses. It is important to note that Advanced Integration is a flag that can be attached to a course regardless of the unit load for that course. See descriptions below for viable advanced integration options:

Interdisciplinary upper-division courses, typically taught by faculty from two different departments and including one or more synthetic, applied integrative projects (the “Core Project”) evaluated by both instructors.

Example of Team-taught course

INST 350 - Epicuriosity
Team-taught by Dr. Atreyee Phukan (English) and Dr. Jonathan Bowman (Communication Studies)

"Epicuriosity" combines literary and cultural theory with communication theories to explore how habits and rituals surrounding food define cultural and communal identity. Together these lenses attend to how food culture shapes and is shaped by critical events such as colonialism, migration, globalization, and the ways that we communicate with one another. The Final Integration Core Project has a written and oral component. Through poster presentations, students will teach each other about a food-related need within a community of their choice. In their individual final papers, students will integrate both disciplinary perspectives on the role of food to answer a significant question about cultural identity in that community.

Simultaneous courses representing different disciplines linked by an instructor-coordinated theme or activity and consisting of one or more synthetic integrative projects (the "Core Project") applied across the courses. Paired/cluster courses can be structured in various ways to meet the advanced integration learning outcomes.

Example of Linked courses

ARTV 328 - Fundamentals of Painting
EOSC 488 - Geomorphology

Students from the Geomorphology course, which teaches processes that shape the Earth's surface, will be grouped with students from Fundamentals of Painting course. Guided by a lecture on scale and process in the context of the two disciplines and a field trip in one meeting, students will discuss ideas and then create a physical work in a studio workshop with a peer from the other class. Students will then present their work to the group in a final meeting of the two classes. Through the project, students will investigate, experiment, and create a demonstration of at least one of the processes discussed at a scale appropriate to the medium. This assignment is both oral and physical, combines the two disciplines of geoscience and art, and serves as the Integrative Core Project to satisfy Advanced Integration.


Example of Clustered Courses

LBST 495 - Senior Seminar in Liberal Studies
SOCI 494 - Sociology Capstone
THRS 450W - Themes in Theological Studies

Students in these courses will all meet together in at least two class sessions for facilitated discussion under the broad theme of social justice. The broad question is: How does an interdisciplinary and integrative framework help assess and rearticulate the meaning(s) so social justice? This will be approached from the perspectives of sociology, education, theology and religious studies.

Each student participating in capstone courses writes an intellectual autobiography paper.  In this paper, the student reflects upon his/her intellectual journey so far and about his/her perspective noting that no one enters from a "perspective free location."

The second assignment builds upon the first. The three courses will come together as a group for shared conversation about an image. This pedagogy uses an object or image to stimulate a collective conversation between groups.

The third assignment requires students to read a shared text that will then be discussed and analyzed from different disciplinary perspectives at another group meeting.

Students will demonstrate advanced integration learning outcomes through their final integration papers, forming their Core Integration Project.

A community engagement course may satisfy the advanced integration requirement if it includes at least one assignment (the Core Integrative Project) in which students must integrate the community engagement experience in a way that meets the learning outcomes for advanced integration. The assignment(s) must be evaluated by both the instructor and the community partner. Community engagement projects meeting the advanced integration requirement should provide opportunities three for significant acquisition and integration of experiential knowledge and must be supervised and evaluated by the community partner(s) in conjunction with a faculty advisor.

Example of Community Engagement course

THEA 475C - Theatre and Community

Students in this course will gain skills in the use and creation of theatre for consciousness raising and alliance building with specific communities and their concerns. The Integrative Core Project is the culminating event, which consists of an evening of staged theatrical one-acts inspired from the partnership that will be evaluated for cultural competency by both USD and the community partner.

Single-instructor and discipline-specific capstone courses may, at times, also meet the advanced integration criteria. In order to achieve the learning outcomes associated with advanced integration, Core Projects in these courses should entail the substantial synthesis and application of multidisciplinary knowledge by prompting students to draw upon their entire Core experience by synthesizing across their previous Core courses.

Example of Single-Instructor course


LBST 495 - Senior Seminar in Liberal Studies

The Liberal Studies capstone asks students to complete an Integrative Core Project that is comprised of an Intellectual Autobiography and Final Capstone Paper. Through these assignments, students will reflect on the ways in which the integration of their core courses, their Liberal Studies courses, and their experiences outside of the physical classroom (school placements, tutoring/internships, study abroad, etc.) have informed their understanding of the educational issues that matter to them most.