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

  • 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. France is also responsible for many early significant contributions to film and for the creation of important cinematic movements. Today, France continues to have a strong film industry due, in part, to measures undertaken by the French government to protect it. The course will follow the development of the film industry from the 1930's through the present. Students will watch films representing each significant period and/or film movement; they will become familiar with the appropriate cinema terminology and will be introduced to general rules governing film critique. Grants: Honors; Terms: T3; Forms: All Prereqs: LA562, LA566 or IN526
  • 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 NCAA 1IN/1LA Cr.; Terms: T2; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: HI301 and LA495 or 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.
  • 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
  • IN506 - Forms We Live By

    Biologists distinguish between an organism’s form and its function. Architects weigh a building’s form against its use. Painters differentiate a picture’s form from its object. Philosophers separate reality’s form and its substance. Indeed, almost all facets of human life have some concept of form. (We even have one here at Lawrenceville.) But what good is form? Why talk about it? How does it work? What, after all, is it? This course will look at definitions of form put forward by multiple disciplines - from statistics to sculpture, literature to linguistics. By tracking form across myriad disciplines, we will hope to learn more about why it has become so crucial to the ways that humans conceive and order their world. And, by analyzing humanity’s formal achievements (Bach’s Fugues, Leibniz’s calculus, Frost’s poetry), we will begin to develop our own thoughts about why form matters, how we value it, and what its purpose is in our everyday lives.
    Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary; Terms: T3; Forms: V
  • 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
  • IN509 - Science and Literature

    “Are you doing STEM in college? Or are you an English/History kind of person?” “Science knows, but poetry feels.” 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 and writers engaged with, inspired by, or in critical conversation with science, and we will read scientists writing poetry. The class will focus on Human Physiology, Psychology, Consciousness, Ecology, and Physics. Representative texts will include poems, novels, essays, and plays. Authors may include: Einstein, Wordsworth, Bohr, Frayn, Stevens, Holub, Rogers, Gander, Lem. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA 1IN/1EN Cr.; Terms: T1; Forms: V
  • IN510 - Linguistics: Dr. Johnson To Dr. Chomsky

    We investigate the astonishing properties of language. Students lead the analysis of subjects that may include lexicography, theories of the origins of language, syntax and semantics, etymology, phonetic transcription, universal grammar, slang and dialect, neurolinguistics, and artificial intelligence. We begin with an examination of Samuel Johnson's production of the 1755 Dictionary of the English Language. We then read selected chapters from a standard linguistics textbook followed by a careful examination of classic essays by language theorists like Ferdinand de Saussure, Charles Sanders Peirce, and Roman Jakobson, then modern investigators such as Noam Chomsky, John Searle, Gerald Edelman, Derek Bickerton, Terrance W. Deacon, Oliver Sacks, and Steven Pinker. Students write three papers and conduct a term-end linguistic research project of their own devising. 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: T1; 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 real 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 how poverty impacts women and families. We will 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. As we turn to the US, we will look especially at poverty in Mercer County, exploring how local issues are similar or different from those studied in the developing world.
    As part of this section of the course we will engage in service learning in Trenton during our extended block.  In turn, this service will deeply 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 and students may take part in the school trip to Tanzania in June. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; 2IN/2HI Cr.; Terms: T2 and T3; Forms: IV or V
  • 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
  • IN517 - Russian Language and History

    This two-term course introduces students to the vocabulary and grammar of the Russian language as well as important topics in Russian history. Students will start by becoming familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet and will go on to learn key words and phrases which would be useful for travel to Russia. Interspersed with language units will be discussion and readings on major events and themes in Russian history, including the rise of Russia as a major European power under Peter and Catherine the Great, the origins of the revolutionary movements of the 19th century, the emergence of the Soviet Union following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, and the development of post-Soviet Russia under Yeltsin and Putin since 1991. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA 1IN/1HI Cr.; Terms: T1 and T2; Forms: IV or V Prereqs: HI301 and completion of language requirement
  • IN519 - Brazil: Order and Progress

    The largest country in South America defies easy generalizations. Brazil’s national flag reflects its imperial past while proclaiming “ordem e progresso” (order and progress), to be the country’s future-oriented vision. 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 continental United States. Multiracial, multicultural, home to millions of immigrants, politically open, economically vibrant, and socially tolerant, Brazilian civilization has emerged from the crucible of political instability, military dictatorship, hyperinflation, religious syncretism, and racial discrimination. The course will explore Brazil’s history, economics, national ideology, language, music, religions, sense of space, and aesthetic sensibility through the lenses offered by four cities; Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, and Curitiba. Students will learn that while scars from the colonial past are still visible today, a future of sustainable development and urban renewal is already part of Brazil’s present. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; 1IN/1HI Cr.; Terms: T2; 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.; Term: 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; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: HI301
  • IN523 - Civil Liberties and the American Constitution

    Claims regarding what is moral, right, and good have become embedded in the fabric of American law because, in the efforts to contract, preserve, or expand civil liberties, the Supreme Court has relied on such claims to limit the powers of the state. What competing conceptions of justice and morality have been at the center of controversies regarding civil liberties? What ideas – political, historical, and ethical – have guided the Supreme Court in its adjudication of claims? By critically examining court opinions as well as engaging selected readings in moral philosophy, students will explore the boundaries of governmental regulation of contested areas such as freedom of speech, religious liberty and personal privacy, liberties that impact choices regarding “offensive” speech, pornography, intimate relations, end of life, drug use, and commoditization of human parts. 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
  • 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 Versailles-the château, gardens, and court etiquette-to focus an exploration of 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
  • 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. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; Terms: All; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: MA 407 or MA421 and SC321 or SC325 co-requirement with IN530 **NOTE: Only one IN credit will be granted for the pair.
  • IN533 – Hamilton, the Musical: History, Hop-Hop & Telling a Story

    This class will be a deep dive into a Broadway phenomenon. From an historian’s perspective, we will ask “What does the musical get right?”, “What does it get wrong?”, and “Does it matter?” “Does Lin-Manuel’s take on the Founding Fathers misrepresent the past or does it communicate a vision for our future?” We will study the source material that Lin-Manuel studied himself, not only the historical documents but also the hip-hop, rhythm & blues and musical comedy songs that influenced him. From the artists perspective we will ask, “What theatrical, musical and visual techniques did Lin-Manuel’s team use to communicate to their audience?” A collaborative final creative project will synthesize your disciplinary studies so students must be willing to do one or more of the following: rap, hip-hop dance, sing, act, write original music and/or lyrics, write original scenes, create a visual art piece (poster, program, costumes, set design), reimagine and perform actual selections from the show.
    Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary 1IN/1PA Cr.; Terms: T2 or T3: Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: taking or completed 400/500 level American History and Completion of arts requirement
  • IN534 - Popular Music In America

    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: T3; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: Completion of arts requirement
  • 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 arts requirement or Departmental Approval
  • 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; Terms: T1; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: Completion of arts requirement or Department Approval.
  • IN538 - Varieties of Religious Experience

    This course will find its entryway into religion through a reading of selective autobiographies of memorable figures from diverse faiths. The texts chosen will be treated as literature offering windows into the spiritual lives of the authors and as landmark religious documents that shed light on critical social and religious issues both within and across traditions. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary 1IN/1RP Cr.; Terms: T1; 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

    This interdisciplinary course will address and explore how music has shaped and formed the development of religious traditions, and how religious traditions shaped and formed the development of music. Through the study of the musical dimensions of Buddhism, Christianity, Balinese Hinduism, and Islam, among others, as well as the religious dimensions of Jazz, American folk music, the organ, the gamelan, J. S. Bach, and early sacred music, the course is designed to surface the connections, intersections and distinctions between religion and music. Through this deep inquiry, students will learn to listen to music with greater understanding, and to integrate their understanding and think critically about the complex ideas inherent in these two disciplines. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary 1IN/1RP Cr.; Terms: T2; 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 NCAA 2IN/2RP Cr.; Terms: T2 and T3; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: Any 400 or 500 level Religion and Philosophy (RP) course.
  • IN554 - The Universe Story

    The prolific and paradigm changing scientific discoveries of the past one hundred and fifty years have radically changed our understanding of the origins and development of the universe and the biological life within it. For the first time in human history we are able to posit a complete scientific cosmology, an epic of evolution, that tells the important story of emerging life and growing complexity. This story, like the great mythic narratives of our ancestors can and should help us live in better accordance with the reality of the truths it shows us. Yet, we continue to live the toxic stories of endless resources and an objectification of nature. These stories have lead us to the horrors of mass extinction and to the reality of climate change. This course will examine new scientific cosmology, and paradigms that compete with their story for our allegiance. We will look at the specific natural world around us, the environmental challenges that are emerging, ecological restoration projects, the sixth extinction, and climate change. Intensive reading, Harkness discussion, individual and group research, multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary thinking, and outdoor experience are all integrals parts of the learning for this two-term elective. Extensive reading and seminar papers are an integral part of this course. Students enrolling in the course and intersted in the intersections of religions and nature should consider taking Religion and Ecology in the Spring. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; 2IN/2RP Cr.; Terms: T1 and T2; 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: SC321 or SC325 and any 400 or 500 level Religion and Philosophy (RP) course.
  • 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: SC321 or SC325 or Department Approval
  • IN564 - Honors Art History: Athens, Rome, Constantinople/Istanbul

    The Classical World and the emergence of Monotheism as a dominant force. This course will begin in Classical Greece and Move through Rome to Constantinople until it reverts to Istanbul.
    Polytheism gives way to monotheism on a relatively swift and sweeping scale. Why and how does this happen? Using art and architecture as the entry we will investigate what gives rise to civilization, governance and the organization of people. Is art a mirror that reflects societal interests? or is it a hammer that shapes them? The course will be informed by selected readings; most images will be accessed electronically. Learning how to write about the art and the context surrounding it will be a major component of the course. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary 1IN/1VA Cr.; Terms: T1; Forms: IV or V Prereqs: Must have completed two courses in any of the arts and Department permission
  • IN565 - Honors Art History: The High Renaissance-Genius at Work

    Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Brunelleschi and Bramante all walked a narrow patch of earth in Italy at the same time. What gave rise to this well spring of genius? Are their widely different personalities reflected in their art? Did their legacy influence what followed? This course will begin with the Gothic Spirit and continue through Mannerism and into the early Baroque. Selected readings will be employed and most images will be accessed electronically. Writing about the artists, their art and the context surrounding them will be major components of the course. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary 1IN/1VA Cr.; Terms: T2; Forms: IV or V Prereqs: Must have completed two courses in any of the arts and Department permission
  • IN566 - Honors Art History: Cogito Ergo Sum

    Did an Age of excess give rise to the Enlightenment? “Man is born free yet everywhere he is in chains,” Rousseau’s quote may be as appropriate today as it was in the late 18th Century. How did artists respond to and influence post Enlightenment thinking; that ripple continues today, Beginning in the late Baroque with a close examination of Neo-Classicism and Romanticism this course will also zoom forward to the 21st Century looking for parallels and responses in the art of painting and architecture and the culture from which they emerge.  Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary 1IN/1VA Cr.; Terms: T3; Forms: IV or V Prereqs: Must have completed two courses in any of the arts and Department permission
  • 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.
  • IN570 - From Freud To The Void

    First off, we ground ourselves carefully in the rudiments of Sigmund Freud's scandalous psychoanalytic theory (The Rat Man and Civilization and its Discontents). Then we pick up the trail of the good doctor as it surfaces in the America Dream of the early 1950s. We pursue it, psychoanalytically, through the post-war mannerists of repression like John Cheever and J.D. Salinger, who explored some possible modes of behavior in response to the Freudian predicament. We then turn to the libidinous Beats (Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and William Burroughs) who reshaped the project into the apocalyptic postures that were politicized in the 60s, commercialized and/or pastoralized in the 70s, romanticized in the 80s, then detoxed and archived on t-shirts for our own new century. Last stop: Hunter S. Thompson. Course work includes three essays and a final paper. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; 1IN/1EN Cr.; Terms: T1; Forms: V
  • IN572 - Water and Humanity:A Collaborative Study

    This is a two-term course that grants one interdisciplinary credit. Water and Humanity, a course available to all students within the Eight Schools Association (ESA), 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 “flipped classroom” approach to learning and assessment. You will be involved in student-to-student videoconferencing, guided lessons, and collaboration with other students and teachers in the ESA. The course involves both synchronous and asynchronous online videoconferencing meetings. There will also be necessary field research and a capstone project in the spring term. The course will focus upon the value of water and water issues within the contexts of religious ceremony, the human-water relationship in fine art and architecture, national and imperial infrastructure, 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 with students at the other schools as well as our own that students will enjoy the advantages of this online and interdisciplinary endeavor. A central methodology for the course is to enable students to engage in dialogue and collaboration with other students and faculty from across the Eight Schools Association, with the goal of furthering students’ thinking and conclusions about the central dilemmas this course explores. Grants: Honors, Interdisciplinary 1IN/1SC Cr.; Terms: T2 and T3; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: SC321 or SC325
  • 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

    2019 Senior Capstone: 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. This wide-ranging course will be taught by an interdisciplinary team of teachers as well as distinguished guest lecturers.
    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

  • Julie Mellor

    Co-Chair of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program
    College of William and Mary - B.S.
    Princeton University - M.A.
  • Dana Kooistra P'19

    Director of Teaching, Learning, & External Partnerships
    Columbia University Teachers College - M.A.
    Wellesley College - B.A.
  • Jason VonWachenfeldt, Ph.D.

    Co-Chair of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program
    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.