Integrative Studies

NewSchool’s integrative studies curriculum is specifically designed to address the learning objectives of 21st-century students. Our rigorous core of required and elective courses is aimed at producing articulate and confident students capable of achieving academic goals, making interdisciplinary connections, and addressing contemporary concerns. Our faculty place an emphasis on learning that is relevant as we challenge our students to form links between their coursework and the landscapes, natural and built environments, buildings, peoples, and cultures that make up the world — both past and present. Our pedagogical strategy is a balanced exploration of scientific, design, and humanistic inquiry that guides the individual learner on his or her way to becoming a scholar. Through project-based learning, students are challenged to broaden their self-awareness, foster an understanding of others and community, and cultivate a dynamic global perspective that may contribute to a more sustainable future. In turn, students acquire the knowledge and skill set necessary to become global citizens, preparing them to transform their learning experiences into action and stewardship.

Emphasis on Inquiry

NewSchool’s Integrative Studies program consists of courses designed to provide students with a diversity of ideas and concepts. It emphasizes inquiry as the means of developing complex intellectual skills that enable students to become critical thinkers, concerned citizens, and lifelong learners. Instructors facilitate inquiry by integrating learning across disciplines, inviting guest speakers, taking students on field trips, and collaborating in team teaching.

Class Format

NewSchool currently offers on-campus and online class options to complete the school’s undergraduate general education curriculum requirements. These classes provide flexibility in scheduling and allow students to fulfill degree requirements in a self-paced environment.

Sample Courses

Some of our popular Integrative Studies courses include:

HUM360: Myths and Symbols
In this course, students examine both ancient and pre-industrial stories and learn to recognize the unifying motifs that they share with the myths of contemporary societies. Within a comparative framework, the course uses diverse artifacts from anthropology, psychology, literature, and religion to discover questions of origin as the story of the hero unfolds. Through this process, students examine ways to organize and evaluate human experience as they cultivate diverse perspectives about themselves, others, and the world.

HUM361: The Evolution of Surfing
This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to analyze the impact and influence that surfing has had on history, culture, literature, art, design, and ecology. By examining the sport from its early days of crafting crude wooden boards to it becoming a billion-dollar industry, students learn to identify how human innovation interacts with and alters the physical and historical realms of time and place.

HUM362: The Evolution of the Bicycle
This course will chronicle the invention of the bicycle and the evolution of its design, and students will analyze its multitude of uses for recreation, competition, and transportation. By examining the evolution of both the bicycle’s materiality and utility, students are challenged to make interdisciplinary connections between art, design, physics, human anatomy, ecology, and urban planning.

SCI370: The Pacific Ocean
This course outlines several relationships that evolve from the study of oceanography. Topics to be investigated include the origin and history of the ocean basin, atmospheric and weather circulation, the dynamics of waves and tides, and an introduction to marine life. Through this lens, students identify the direct impact that humans have on the local and regional coastline of the Pacific Ocean.

Meet The Director of Integrative Studies

Bruce Matthes has been part of NewSchool of Architecture & Design since 2009. Since then, Matthes has been integral in the development of the Integrative Studies department, teaching a variety of courses in the humanities as well as designing interdisciplinary courses that challenge students to link the arts and the sciences. Prior to joining NewSchool, Matthes gained an extensive amount of teaching experience from several higher education institutions, including his alma mater, California State University, Chico.

Click here to learn more about Bruce Matthes.