The Interdisciplinary Studies Program at Lawrenceville is not a separate department, but a series of courses that emerge from our core disciplines of history, math, science, english, foreign language, art, and religion and philosophy.
Beginning in the Second Form, students become familiar with the insights, methods, and approaches of these core disciplines. Interdisciplinary courses then attempt to build on these disciplinary groundings in the Fourth and Fifth Form by encouraging students to integrate two or more disciplines. Increasingly, the most complex intellectual and practical problems in the world lie beyond the boundaries of a single discipline. As such, the goal of the Interdisciplinary courses is to answer a question, solve a problem, or achieve an understanding impossible through a single discipline alone. At Lawrenceville, we specifically define Interdisciplinary Studies as “Inquiries which critically draw up two or more disciplines leading to an integration of disciplinary insights.”

  1. “Inquiries”: Interdisciplinary Courses should focus on a question or a problem that requires analysis from multiple disciplinary perspectives.
  2. “Which Critically Draw Upon Two or More Disciplines”: Interdisciplinary Courses should emerge from our core Departments and the disciplinary groundings students have acquired during their first two to three years at Lawrenceville. The purpose of Interdisciplinary Courses is to leverage the insights of two or more disciplines while also encouraging students to reflect critically on the limitations of each discipline.
  3. Leading to an Integration of Disciplinary Insights”: Once a course's essential question is examined from the perspective of the contributing disciplines and each discipline reaches the limits of its explanatory or problem-solving power, Interdisciplinary courses should then become a search for a "third way"—a  strategy that builds on the insights and approaches of the contributing disciplines but then "integrates" them in the service of answering a question, solving a problem, or achieving an understanding impossible through a single discipline alone.

Explore Our Courses

  • IN504 - Legal Practice And Procedures

    This course is intended as the main conduit to the Lawrenceville Mock Trial Team and, as such, has as its practical goal the preparation of students to participate in those competitions. On a more broad front the course seeks to educate students on both the principles of the American legal system and the ways those principles are expressed during the course of an actual litigation. The course will take up differences between civil and criminal litigation; the rules of direct vs. cross-examination; and the definitions of various rules of evidence like hearsay. What, for instance, is its definition, and what might be considered exceptions to that rule? Students should expect to read extensively and closely the details of an individual case and to write a number of openings, closings, and witness statements. They will also be expected to master the rules of courtroom procedure and to engage in extensive role-playing. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA** 1IN/1EN Cr.; Terms: T1; Forms: V; Prereqs: EN401 **IMPORTANT: This is NCAA approved as a Social Science and can not be counted towards the English requirement for NCAA
  • IN507 - Spies... Like Us: Cold War Literature

    The Cold War was a political as well as a cultural and philosophical war between the Soviet Union and the West, putting a tremendous amount of pressure on writers and artists to be political spokespeople fighting for the hearts and minds of everyday people in support of their respective ways of life. Writers composed novels, poems, and films rich in social and philosophical complexity, but always with underlying political commentary and agendas. In doing so, they re-examined the foundations of western values, such as individual rights, social commitments, duty, freedom, power, sense, spirituality, and sanity. The questions they raised will be the same ones we raise and answer using literary texts. Is there something essentially "human," such as a human spirit, and what is its constitution? What is the purpose of poetry when tanks are in the streets? To what degree does an individual owe allegiance to her moral ideals? Does language serve to reveal or to mask reality? Is sanity socially or transcendentally defined? We will read novels, poems, essays, and films by writers from both sides of the Iron Curtain, possibly including Schneider, Koestler, Milosz, Havel, Kundera, Le Carré, Greene, Kubrick, Wajda, von Dannersmarck, Jean-Luc Godard, Brodsky, Barthes, Derrida, Nabokov, Tarkovsky, Sontag, Cavell. Experiential Component: Spring Break Trip to Berlin, Gdansk, Warsaw, and Prague Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; 1IN/1EN Cr.; Terms: T2; Forms: V
  • IN508 - Science and Literature: Being Human

    “Are you doing STEM in college? Or are you an English/History person?” Although our culture tends to these unfortunately popular binaries are all too seductive, leading us to believe that we have to reduce our life-paths to these facile categories because they accurately organize our world. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the sciences and the humanities have long influenced each other. Some scientists say the universe acts poetically; some poets say poetry is a form of knowledge about the universe. We will read poets, playwrights, and novelists engaged with, inspired by, and in critical conversation with science, and we will read scientists writing poetry, fiction, and philosophy. Given the explosion of writing in recent years about the intersection between these two fields, this course has been expanded to two terms. The Fall Term will focus on the Science and Philosophy of Consciousness, Cognition, Artificial Intelligence, Memory, Ecology, and Physics as represented in Literature. Authors will include Albert Einstein, Philip K. Dick, William Wordsworth, Michael Frayn, Wallace Stevens, Forrest Gander, and Susan Blackmore.
    Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA 1IN/1EN Cr.; Terms: T1; Forms: V
  • IN509 - Science and Literature: The Good Life

    The guiding question, the subtitle of this course, has been a philosophical or theological project for millenia. Happiness, love, well-being, joy were states of mind ascribed to both moral and pragmatic choices, the consequences of a life well-lived. The independence of mind and body (or what is called Cartesian dualism) seemed to have been cemented by Descartes, and Cartesian dualism continues to be the way most people continue to understand themselves. Recently, however, science seems to offer other insights into the state and health of our inner lives, emotional and psychological states, our relationships, even our thoughts, desires, and hopes. Feeling depressed because of a loss? We have pills for that. Want to know why you feel so great after winning? Neurotransmitters. But… does that seem right?  Starting with the positive psychology movement, this section of Science and Literature will use novels, poems and essays to examine the intersection between science and the philosophical projects of building a good life. In addition, this course will ask students to apply the theories throughout the term. The Winter Term will include literature representing the science and philosophy of Health, Medicine, Physiology, Psychology, Well-Being, and Happiness. Authors will include Hippocrates, Oliver Sacks, Aristotle, Atul Gawande, Miroslav Holub, Aldous Huxley, Lewis Thomas, Albert Camus and Susan Blackmore. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA 1IN/1EN Cr.; Terms: T2; Forms: V
  • IN511 - Modern Thought And Literature

    In Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to discover that he’s not the person he thought he was—that everything he thought he knew about the world was somehow wrong. At the heart of this interdisciplinary course is a sustained exploration of and confrontation with the radical uncertainty that characterizes modernity. The technological, cultural, and social changes of the past two centuries have undermined and called into question our most basic values and foundational assumptions about how the world works, challenging us to wrestle with some fundamental questions: How do we know what we know? What is right and good and beautiful—and how can we be certain? What does it mean to live a meaningful life? What does it mean to be human? Through readings in literature and philosophy, we’ll consider the ways a number of 19th- and 20th-century writers explored and tried to answer these imperative if perhaps unanswerable questions. Readings for the course will include Marx’s Communist Manifesto, Baudelaire’s poetry, Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols, Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, and Beckett’s Waiting for Godot; at the end of the term, we will visit The Met in New York city. Major assignments will include creative and critical papers and a final project. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; 1IN/1EN Cr.; Terms: T3; Forms: V
  • IN512 - Heuristics

    Each week is a separate unit organized around a concept which becomes our heuristic -- our path to discovery. The concept might be Freud's theory of the unconscious mind, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, Chomsky's theory of Universal Grammar, Natural Law as envisioned by Thomas Aquinas, Coleridge's notion of the "willing suspension of disbelief," Jack Kerouac's vision of a global felahim, degeneration as understood in immunology, or homeostasis as defined by Claude Bernard. All of these constitute powerful gears of thought within their own discipline or context. But can they be usefully applied to problems beyond their native boundaries? We select and define a new heuristics at the start of each week, explore its uses and implications mid-week, and close the week by attempting individually to discover, and write up, a novel application for the concept beyond the confines of its home court. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary 1IN/1EN Cr.; Terms: T3; Forms: V
  • IN513 - Poverty

    This is a unique course combining the study of poverty in the classroom with community service. Poverty is a two-trimester course that examines the historic, economic, and cultural roots as well as the impact of poverty in the developing world and in the United States. In particular we will try to understand the cyclical nature of poverty and the interaction between causes and effects. We will then study many of the different approaches taken to alleviating poverty—from big aid programs to microfinance, social entrepreneurship and more, looking at the strengths and weaknesses of each and the lessons we can learn along the way about how to effectively alleviate poverty.  As we turn to the US, we will look especially at poverty in Mercer County, exploring how domestic issues are similar or different from those studied in the developing world.
     
    Integral to the course is our service learning work with Home Front during our extended block.  We learn about all the aspects of Home Front in their efforts to provide full-service assistance to homeless families in Mercer County. In addition, we will do various tasks at their Family Campus, from childcare and arts and crafts to cooking, programming and whatever they need us to do. In turn, this service will inform our understanding of poverty and the poor communities throughout the world. The course will culminate in students devising a plan of action for addressing a specific aspect of poverty in the world. Independent and group research are central components of the course, so students need to be able to research independently. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; 2IN/2HI Cr.; Terms: T2 and T3; Forms:  V (IV Form only with permission of instructor)
     
  • IN515 - A Hero’s Journey: Lewis and Clark

    The Lewis and Clark Expedition offers us a real-life mythical tale full of adventure and danger as Meriwether Lewis and William Clark lead their ‘Corps of Discovery’ through the American West from 1804-1806. You’ll relive their experience in the Northern Great Plains, the badlands of the Dakotas/Montana, the rugged Rocky Mountains, and the Columbia River basin in the Pacific Northwest--and back--as you track their progress and consider the multiple primary source journals that have been preserved, full of detail and emotion that comes alive through their work. We’ll study this important expedition through the explorers’ and the Native Americans’ lens as this American epic comes alive through the fascinating and accessible academic research along with their incredible journal documentation. We’ll study the Corps’ contributions to science as they classify and catalogue new species while collecting scientific data daily as they search for a navigable route to the Pacific. You’ll have a parallel historical experience as we set forth to build our own canoe and paddles--by hand-- in the newly expanded Gruss Art Center to better understand the art and science of the North American canoe on this expedition, both in form, structure, and as Native American expressions of cultural identity. This epic journey will capture your imagination as you reconsider what you knew about Native American culture, the natural history or the West, and how a scientific body of knowledge comes to fruition. This three dimensional, interdisciplinary course will draw on the history, science, and visual arts disciplines so you can learn, ‘remake,’ and appreciate this piece of classic Americana in the epic tale of adventure of Lewis and Clark. You’ll leave the course with a deep understanding of the early 19th century west, a love of natural history, knowledge of the scientific discoveries of the Corp--and the experience of crafting a canoe and using it in a traditional style! Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary; 2IN/2HI Cr.; Terms: T2 and T3; Forms:  V (IV Form only with permission of instructor)
  • IN516 - Russia: History and Memory

    How has the Russian national identity been created by its culture? What is remembered? What is commemorated? What is preserved? How does what is remembered differ from the historical record? This course is an opportunity to explore not only the history of Russia, but also its rich culture, including Russian art, music, architecture, literature and language. The span of time covered will be from Kievan Rus in the 10th century through the present day, including the rule of the tsars of Russia, the Russian Revolution, the Soviet Union under Stalin, and the fall of communism. Particular attention will be given to the late 1800's, the time widely recognized as Russia's Golden Age, when Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov and the great Itinerant painters were all creating great works of Russian literature, music and art that represent an essential aspect of Russian national culture. A focus of the course will be to try to understand how Russians see themselves, through an examination of what they remember, value, and preserve and the implications of this in the current global community. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; 1IN/1HI Cr.; Terms: T2; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: HI301
  • IN519 - Brazil: Order and Progress

    The largest country in South America defies easy generalizations. One of the largest economies in the world, Brazil is a thriving democracy of over 200 million people spread over a territory larger than the 48 contiguous states of the United States. Multiracial, multicultural, home to millions of immigrants, politically open, economically vibrant, and socially tolerant, Brazilian identity and civilization has emerged from the crucible of political instability, military coups, hyperinflation, religious syncretism, and racial discrimination. The course explores Brazil’s history, economic development, politics, religion, and geography as we explore how Brazilians have invented and reinvented their sense of identity as they faced, and continue to confront, complex questions of race, migration, poverty, growth, corruption, accountability, sustainability, and quality of life. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; 1IN/1HI Cr.; Terms: T2; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: HI301
  • IN520 - Africa: Then and Now

    This course will evaluate recent events and the current state of Africa as well as study the themes and issues which have contributed to the history of the continent. While this course can be taken on its own it is highly recommended to also take the second term course "Africa: Then and Now - From Independence" for a more complete chronology of African history, culture, and modern issues. Students begin the course by acquiring a general sense of Africa today through a study of geography, resources, and current events. Our exploration of Africa will highlight the greatness of its history as we begin chronologically with a study of Africa in the Middle Ages, a time of great power and world influence. This study of Africa's history is necessary to further evaluate and debate the impact of the transatlantic slave trade and further understand it in the context of the indigenous as well as Arab slave trade. We will also celebrate the continent’s rich diversity as we explore the arts: visiting museums, working with our own collection of masks and visual art, and will learn African drumming and dance utilizing local instructors. Chronologically the course ends with a study of colonial rule and the legacy of imperialism. A special feature of this course is its curricular connection to a spring break trip to Ghana. This trip will enable students to learn about slavery past and present and will also feature African drumming and dance. Students enrolled in this course will be given the first opportunity to enroll in this program. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; 1IN/1HI Cr.; Terms: T1; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: HI301
  • IN521 - Africa: Then and Now - From Independence

    This course is well paired with the 1st term course "Africa: Then & Now" but may be taken without the first term course. The course will evaluate current events in Africa and look at the themes, issues, and sources of causation in Africa's history. We will explore how and why many in Africa have experienced famine, war, and destabilization in spite of the continent’s enormous wealth of resources. A look at Africa's geography, resource wealth, and current events will launch the course before we study the impact of colonialism and the transition into a state of independence. Other topics of study include the legacy of the Cold War in Africa's development, ethnic conflict and genocide, and other contemporary themes. A special feature of this course is its curricular connection to a spring break trip to Ghana. The trip will enable students to learn about slavery past and present and will also feature African drumming and dance. Students enrolled in this course will be given the first opportunity to enroll in this program. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; 1IN/1HI Cr.; Terms: T2; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: HI301
  • IN522 - The Middle East - Myth And History

    This course will focus on common misunderstandings and misperceptions of the cultures and religions that meet at the complex crossroads of the Middle East, through an examination of the historical record and cultural interactions from varying points of view. By taking this course focused on the history, religions and cultures of the Middle East, the students will gain a broader world view of this critical and complex region of the world. For students to more fully understand the modern Middle East, they must investigate the roots of conflict and misunderstanding by understanding the historical memory of the peoples that coexist in this complex region and looking through various cultural lenses. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; 1IN/1HI Cr.; Terms: T1 or T2; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: HI301
  • IN523 - Civil Liberties and the American Constitution

    Civil liberties – the choices individuals get to make even in the face of great social opposition – are ultimately claims about the meaning and limits of morality and justice. Claims about what is moral, good, or right have become embedded in the fabric of American law because the Supreme Court, in its the efforts to contract, preserve, or expand civil liberties over time, has relied on such claims to limit the powers of the state. What competing conceptions of justice do our laws embrace? What ideas about human nature, politics, and morality have guided the Supreme Court in its adjudication of claims? By critically examining court opinions as well as readings in moral philosophy and science, students will explore what have been – or should be – the boundaries of governmental regulation of contested areas such as religious liberty, freedom of speech, and personal privacy. We will explore the state of the law in areas such as hate speech, religion-based exemptions to the law, abortion, pornography, and assisted suicide, among others topics, as we explore how reasoning about what is moral impacts American ideas about justice and the constitution. Grants: Honors NCAA; 1IN/1HI Cr.; Terms: T1; Forms: V; Prereqs: HI421 or HI511
  • IN524 - Immigration Stories/Theories

    “There is a limit to our powers of assimilation, and when it is exceeded, the country suffers from something very much like indigestion,” bemoaned a The New York Times editorial in 1880, in response to the greatest wave of immigration our country had ever seen. Since then, the United States has become the refuge, the workplace and the home to millions more immigrants, legal and not, from countries near and far. What explains this massive influx of people? And what are its implications - both for the immigrants who leave home, family and history behind to reinvent themselves in America - and for America itself? Can this nation of immigrants continue to absorb, economically and socially, wave upon wave of newcomers? Can we afford not to? And how will a new administration’s immigration policies affect our nation, our national identity, and our position in the world? In this two-term interdisciplinary course, students will explore these questions through the lenses of history, economics, memoir and literature. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA 2IN/1HI/1EN Cr.; Terms: T1 and T2; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: HI423 or HI513
  • IN525 - Honors French: French Cinema

    From the very beginnings of cinema, France has produced internationally recognized films, and many historians consider France as the birthplace of cinema. From the advent of the “cinématographe” by the Frères Lumière in the 1890’s, France has also been responsible for many early, significant contributions to film and for the creation of important cinematic movements. This course will follow the development of French cinema from the late 1800’s to the present. Students will study films from each decade from a historical, cultural, and artistic lens while becoming familiar with the appropriate cinema terminology. Grants: Honors; Terms: T3; Forms: All Prereqs: LA562, LA566 or IN526
  • IN526 - Honors French: Versailles

    The palace and gardens of Versailles, as well as the art, poetry, music, and literature that it spawned, continue to delight visitors, spectators, and readers today. In the 17th century, Louis XIV undertook the construction not only of a palace, but also of a country: the palace and gardens of Versailles are the physical manifestation of Louis XIV's creation of the cultural and geographical France we know today. This course will use the gardens and château of Versailles to explore the inspiring, intoxicating and, at times dangerous, intersection of art, science, politics, and literature in 17th century France. Students will study the historical period of Louis XIV's reign, read the poetry of La Fontaine as well as excerpts of plays by Molière, conduct research on a topic of their choosing, and prepare both written and oral presentations. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary 1IN/1LA Cr.; Terms: T2; Forms: All Prereqs: LA561, LA562, LA566, LA568 or IN525
  • IN527 - Honors Spanish: The Hispanic History of the U.S.

    Florida was initially claimed by the Spanish. About one-third of the current continental United States originally belonged to Mexico. While U.S. history books often focus on our English origins, Spanish-speaking countries and peoples significantly contributed to the development of our country. This course explores our Hispanic roots, beginning in the early 16th century during the age of exploration, and continues through the centuries, concluding with the study of prominent Latinx figures of the 20th century. Students read first-person accounts of the Spanish explorers, watch history documentaries and create a final project for the end of the trimester. This honors elective will be taught in Spanish.
    Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; 1IN/1LA Cr.; Terms: T3; Forms: All Prereqs: LA511
  • IN528 - Honors Spanish: Politics & Poetry

    This interdisciplinary course explores Nicaragua and its unique link: politics and poetry. Covering a chronological view of historical events and poets, students will read primary documents, discuss and write about events and topics, and participate in several group and individual projects using Spanish. Some select, lengthy history readings may be done in English. Available to IVth and Vth Forms only. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary; 1IN/1LA Cr.; Terms: T2; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: HI301 and LA511
  • IN530 - Honors Calculus with Physics

    Through an inquiry-based approach, this course explores key principles of physics and the calculus methods related to them. The study of each physics topic requires students to create hypotheses, develop computer models, design experiments, and craft components. Topics of calculus are introduced in support of this process, allowing students to model their understanding mathematically. Among the calculus topics included are derivatives and integrals and applications including velocity and acceleration, linearization, extreme values, accumulation, area, and volumes. Some independent study is required of students preparing for the AP® Calculus AB exam.
    Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; 1IN/3MA Cr.; Terms: All; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: MA 407 or MA421 and SC321 co-requirement with IN531 **NOTE: Only one IN credit will be granted for the pair.
  • IN531 - Honors Physics With Calculus

    Through an inquiry-based approach, this course explores key principles of physics and the calculus methods related to them. The study of each physics topic requires students to create hypotheses, develop computer models, design experiments, and craft components. Topics of calculus are introduced in support of this process, allowing students to model their understanding mathematically. Among the physics topics included are translational, orbital, and rotational motion, conservation laws, friction, and electrostatics. General and limiting physical behaviors will be explored mathematically and computationally. No previous programming experience is expected; Javascript is taught as a tool for exploring course topics. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; Terms: All; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: MA407 or MA421 and SC325 co-requirement with IN530, and Department Approval.**NOTE: Only one IN credit will be granted for the pair.
  • IN532 - Acoustics

    Musical acoustics is a unique area of study where “art” and “science” meet together and sometimes produce unexpected results! This course will cover the generation and propagation of sound, and the ear’s response to sound. We will study sound generated from musical instruments and sound from the human voice. There will also be an introduction to room acoustics, sound analysis, musical intervals and scales. A significant portion of the class will be devoted to building acoustical models and musical instruments. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary 1IN/1PA Cr.; Terms: T3: Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: Completion of any 300 level art class
  • IN535 - Mythological Theatre: Gods, Heroes, and Monsters

    Every civilization has its myths; great stories of gods and mankind that have been passed down, enduring over time. Through theatre we can pass on these myths, capturing their purpose and significance in the present. In this interdisciplinary course we take a critical look at mythology, identifying what roles myths hold in different cultures, past and present, and their social importance. We will ask "What is myth?", "What purposes do myths serve?”, and “How does performance help us to see or know these stories anew?" We will study Greek, Norse, Eastern, and Western mythology, identifying important cultural markers, patterns, roles and conflicts, and create our own stories from these findings. Students will collaborate on a new theatrical work, weaving classical myths with these modern interpretations, presented through live performance. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary 1IN/1PA Cr.; Terms: T3: Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: Completion of any 300 level art class
  • IN536 - The Exploration of the Universe through Theatre

    Life of Galileo explores the complex relationships among faith, reason, and the social responsibility of the scientist. This play becomes a catalyst for our examination of the real-world conflicts between the intellectual and authority, science and politics, the Church and the State, all of which both Galileo and the playwright, Bertolt Brecht, struggled with through their lives. In addition to investigating the scientific and historical context of Galileo’s paradigm-shifting discoveries, we will explore Brecht’s concepts of Theatre of Alienation and its impact on the development of modern theatre. Our exploration will include a field-trip to NYC to view a performance in the style known as Brechtian Theatre. The culmination of our experience will be research projects based on performance studies and written analysis of a chosen “radical thinker”.  Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary 1IN/1PA Cr.; Terms: T1; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: Completion of any 300 level art class
  • IN537 - The Culture Industry in the US

    This course traces the evolution of music as cultural product in the U.S., focusing on its relationships with important historical and social movements. We explore what is meant by the term "popular" in relation to emerging musical styles, and how those practices have been important for the rise of a uniquely American entertainment industry. We will also look at how popular music has been used as a marker for identity (including class, race, and gender) throughout our history.  Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary; 1IN/1PA Cr.; Terms: T1 or T3; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: Completion of arts requirement
  • IN538 - Varieties of Religious Experience

    This interdisciplinary course will explore the varieties of religious experience through the study of religious and spiritual autobiography beginning with Sacred Journey by Frederick Buechner ’43. We will study the autobiographies of those as distinct as Augustine and Malala, Rumi and Frank Lloyd Wright, Hildegard and Michelle Obama, Aldo Leopold and James Cone, an eclectic group, for certain, that will be approached thematically: classics, social activists, mystics, radicals, and naturalists. We will consider the question of spiritual autobiography through the arts: John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" is one example and Octavio Solis' Retablos is another. The title of this course is taken from William James’ Gifford Lectures delivered at the University of Edinburgh in 1902, in which he developed a way of examining religious experience.  We will read portions of James’ work in order to apply his manner of analysis. We will also read William Zinsser’s Writing About Your Life to deepen our ability to write excellent, concrete, imaginative narrative. The final project is a spiritual autobiography, where creativity is encouraged. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary 1IN/1RP Cr.; Terms: T2; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: Any 400 or 500 level Religion and Philosophy (RP) course
  • IN542 - The Karma Of Words

    The intention of this course is to bring religion and philosophy to bear on the study of literature, while using the authors and great works studied as windows into religion and philosophy. The Karma of Words will focus primarily on the classic and modern literature of Japan. The Confucian, Taoist, Zen Buddhist traditions and aesthetic treatises of medieval Japanese poets and Samurai will provide the religious and philosophical materials. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary 1IN/1RP Cr.; Terms: T2; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: Any 400 or 500 level Religion and Philosophy (RP) course.
  • IN544 - Religious Dimensions Of Music

    There is a deep and nuanced connection between religion and music. Both are widely diverse subjects that evoke personal, subjective responses that deeply influence our everyday lives. Yet, why is music tied to nearly all religious practice? What distinguishes sacred from secular? How does music move people, in religious practice and in cultural movements? In this interdisciplinary course we will explore how religious traditions have shaped and formed the development of music, and how music has shaped and formed the development of religious traditions. Looking and listening through the lens of music, we will survey Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Islam, among other religious practices, and assess the religious dimensions of Jazz, the Baroque and Medievals eras, American folk and modern music, and major musical instruments tied to religious practice. We will also take a deep dive into the music and culture during the rise and work of the American Civil Rights movement. The term will conclude with an independent final project rooted in our studies. By unearthing the connections, intersections, and distinctions between religion and music, we will re-learn to listen to music with greater understanding and context, and think critically about the complex ideas inherent in these two disciplines. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary 1IN/1RP Cr.; Terms: T3; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: Any 400 or 500 level Religion and Philosophy (RP) course or Department Approval.
  • IN546 - Religion And Ecology

    Our perception of the natural world and the environment, and man's responsibility toward the natural environment is shaped by many influences. Human-nature interactions are shaped by cultural constructions, cosmology, and ethics. Science can describe the relationships but it cannot prescribe meaning to these ecological verities. What makes a place sacred, and what is man's place in the natural world? In this course, we will explore how spirituality and world religions understand and value the natural world, and how geography, nature, and ecology itself influence the development of religious thought and practice. As the global environmental crisis grows, what is the potential role of religions in managing this crisis? Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary 1IN/1RP Cr.; Terms: T3; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: Any 400 or 500 level Religion and Philosophy (RP) course.
  • IN550 - Makers Modern Mind

    A two-term offering, Makers of the Modern Mind will address itself to the history of ideas at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the twentieth. The first part of the course will establish the elements of thought and practice that constitute “Modernism” through Kant, Darwin, Marx, and Kierkegaard. In the second part, while those thinkers will still come under discussion, the course will focus more on literature and language as we examine the deconstructive implications that emerge from the modern consciousness as represented by Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein. Students will write original philosophical papers and fiction as well as the standard critical papers. Accordingly, extensive reading and seminar papers are an integral part of this course. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary; 2IN/2RP Cr.; Terms: T2 and T3; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: Any 400 or 500 level Religion and Philosophy (RP) course.
  • IN558 - Bioethics

    Pick up a newspaper.  Flick on Fox or MSNBC.  What do you see?  Bioethical dilemmas… everywhere.  Should the government quarantine health workers returning home from fighting Ebola?  Should we treat infected people with experimental drugs?  Should parents vaccinate their children against measles and pertussis?  Is it a problem if they decide to opt-out?  Then, there are those perennial favorites:  Abortion.  Death-with-Dignity.  Human Enhancement.  Even if you try to avoid the news, change your homepage to Facebook, and hide under a virtual rock… you won’t escape bioethics.  All you have to do is go to Abbott for lunch.  Should you eat that juicy hamburger?  Or spare the cow and make a hummus sandwich, instead?   What is Right?  How do you know?  And what should you do about it?  This two-term course challenges students to blend science and ethics to develop thoughtful positions on complex issues. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA 2IN/1SC/1RP Cr.; Terms: T2 and T3; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC325 and any 400 or 500 level Religion and Philosophy (RP) course.
  • IN560 - Race

    Race is both a biological myth and a social reality. Human biological variation is not reducible to race, yet the idea of race continues to have a profound effect on the lives we live. This course explores race through biological, historical, psychological and social perspectives. We will examine the science of human biological variation, the construction of the idea of race, and the impact of that idea on Western society, particularly the United States. Grants: Honors; Interdisciplinary NCAA; 1IN/1SC Cr.; Terms: T3; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC321 or SC325 and Department Approval
  • IN562 - Food Studies

    In Food Studies, we address the questions "What is the significance and value of food to humans?" and "How do we know that?"   All animals need food; humans, however, have elevated this basic biological requirement to a symbol of cultural significance and value.  We'll seek answers from history, biology, geography, anthropology, environmental studies, visual art, literature, technology, politics, economics, ethics, and will remain open to other fields of inquiry and discovery. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary 1IN/1SC Cr.; Terms: T3; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC325 and Department Approval
     
  • IN566 - Dramaturgy

    This course is a one-term 500-level Interdisciplinary course between HI and PA focused on Dramaturgy, the theory and craft of dramatic composition. Dramaturgy steeps itself in detailed research of the historical time period, influences, factors, and anthropological data that influence the world in a given play. In this class, we will analyze three classic plays and compile three bodies of research tied to the context and influences of the time and setting as presented in a contemporary performance. The culminating project will require students to present a comprehensive portfolio of materials based on a driving dramaturgical prompt, requiring research in scholarly articles, performance archives, and visual supportive evidence. The study and culminating work is where history and anthropology collide with culture and theatrical craft, in and through research.
    Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary; 1IN/1PA/1HI Cr.; Terms: T2; Forms IV or V; Prereqs: Completion of any 300 level art class
  • IN568 - Design For Social Change

    Design-thinking is a user-oriented process that utilizes concepts found in both art and engineering to develop solutions that have the potential to impact individuals, communities, and societies. In Design for Social Change, students take on the role of design-thinkers, identifying and solving problems through a discrete process that includes deep observation, imagination, creativity, prototyping, and iteration. Focused on the intersection of art and engineering, we examine the foundational concepts of both fields and consider design-thinking as the domain where these two disciplines overlap. As students learn how to solve problems through design and work on projects relevant to our community, they engage in discourse on the potential of solving real-world problems with an interdisciplinary approach. In the past, projects have ranged from improving campus dining services, redesigning and repurposing what we recycle in our community, creating new learning environments in our classrooms, strengthening student involvement and participation in school events and traditions, and implementing lasting programs that impact all areas of student life, including social life, arts, athletics, academics and the house system. Additionally, students read and discuss Change by Design by Tim Brown, a leader in the design-thinking movement. Projects range from collaborative enterprises designed by small student groups, as well as individual inventions and interactive presentations, whose goals are to implement designed solutions to make a short or long-term impact on our community. Students are eligible if they have completed their graduation requirement for the arts in any of the three arts disciplines. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary; 1IN Cr.; Terms: T1; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: Completion of arts requirement.
  • IN572 - Water and Humanity:A Collaborative Study

    This one term course grants one interdisciplinary credit and one science credit. Water and Humanity examines the dynamic and tenuous relationship between water resources and human development. Looking at water from a multidisciplinary perspective, this course will enable students to think more critically about the central role water has played and must continue to play in the viability and vitality of all civilizations. Students will encounter diverse materials, use holistic approaches, and engage in innovative project planning to consider, understand, and propose solutions to complex water issues. This course uses a project based learning approach to learning and assessment. There will be fieldwork involved in your studies and field trips to local watersheds. You will be involved in student-to-student collaboration, guided lessons, field research, and multimedia readings and videos. The course is a project based learning program with three modules that culminate in a capstone project at the end of the term. The course will focus upon the value of water and water issues within the contexts of religious ceremony, politics, economics, science and climate, sustainability, and industrial development. This interdisciplinary, project-driven course will also encourage students to think about the place of water in their own local, regional, and global communities, while researching and proposing their own solutions to complex multidisciplinary water issues. It is through collaborative projects that students will enjoy the advantages of this in-depth and interdisciplinary endeavor. A central methodology for the course is to enable students to engage in dialogue and collaboration with other students and faculty with the goal of furthering students’ thinking and conclusions about the central dilemmas this course explores. Students enrolled in this course need to have completed their science requirement. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary 1IN/1SC Cr.; Terms: T1; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC325 and Department Approval
  • IN584 - Urban Education in America

    This service learning course examines urban education in the United States through a combination of scholarship and service in a local charter school. With input from an experienced charter school educator from Philadelphia, students explore the economic, demographic and social issues that impact student learning, issues like poverty, funding, race, teacher quality, curriculum and instructional strategies. We will ask: What is the achievement gap? What are the factors inside and outside the classroom that contribute to the problems in public education in our cities? How is the crisis in urban education related to other issues of social justice? Through visits to urban classrooms and conversations with teachers, administrators, students, and parents, we’ll hear first-hand about the challenges and successes of some local schools. We’ll consult scholarly articles and media portrayals to offer additional perspective from researchers, educators, and policy-makers. And we will evaluate alternative educational models such as charter and community schools. Students in Urban Education spend a significant portion of time outside of class working directly with a partner, a 7th grade student from a charter school in Trenton or Philadelphia. This mentoring relationship illuminates the challenges facing students at home and at school and challenges participating Lawrentians to reflect on ways to authentically and reciprocally connect with peers beyond the gates. Grants: Honors, Interdisciplinary 1IN Cr.; Terms: T3; Forms: V
  • IN588 - Capstone

    The State of the Fourth Estate: Spotlight on Journalism. This course will focus on many aspects of journalism: the changes in the dissemination of information from print to social media, biases in news reporting in major newspapers and networks, the concept and dissemination of "fake news", how journalism varies across disciplines,  the profession of journalists, including bloggers, reporters, investigative journalists, editorial writers, and how accounts of events and leaders vary in the world media. Well respected journalists and historians will join the class to discuss the craft of journalism and examine the current state of journalism within the United States and worldwide. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary; 1IN Cr.; Terms: T3; Forms: V
  • IN599 - Ind. Study: Interdisciplinary

    Grants: Honors; Terms: All; Forms: IV or V; Department Approval

Our Faculty

  • Photo of Erik Chaput, Ph.D.
    Erik Chaput, Ph.D.
    Co-Chair of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program
    Providence College - B.A.
    Providence College - M.A.
    Syracuse University - M.Phil.
    Syracuse University (Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs) - Ph.D.
  • Photo of Julie Mellor
    Julie Mellor
    Co-Chair of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program
    College of William and Mary - B.S.
    Princeton University - M.A.
  • Photo of Dana Kooistra H'14 P'20
    Dana Kooistra H'14 P'20
    Director of Teaching, Learning, & External Partnerships
    Columbia University Teachers College - M.A.
    Wellesley College - B.A.
  • Photo of Jason VonWachenfeldt, Ph.D.
    Jason VonWachenfeldt, Ph.D.
    Chair of the Religion and Philosophy Department
    Georgetown University - Ph.D.
    Union Theological Seminary - M.A.
    University of Mary Hardin-Baylor - B.A.
Through House and Harkness, Lawrenceville challenges a diverse community of promising young people to lead lives of learning, integrity, and high purpose.  Our mission is to inspire the best in each to seek the best for all.