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Core Curriculum

Be sure to consult with your advisor to learn more about the courses that INDS offers!

INDS 232/H- Interdisciplinary Introduction to Food System Studies

Recommended Course, 3 Credits 

Will be taught in the Fall 2015

How do insights from various academic disciplines inform our understanding of complex issues? This course examines the methods utilized by different academic disciplines and their contributions to integrative understanding. Beginning with the question “What is Interdisciplinary Studies and why does it matter?” the class will then explore different models of integration as well as “expert” examples in architecture, behavioral economics, evolutionary history, social entrepreneurship, biomimicry, and other hybrid fields. Students will develop skills in interdisciplinary research and problem solving, in oral and written communication, and in design thinking.

Recommended Course Preparation:ENGL100.


INDS 330/H – Ways of Knowing

Required Course, 3 Credits 

A writing intensive introduction to interdisciplinary studies usually taken during the sophomore second semester or junior year. Meets “WI” (Writing Intensive) requirements for GEP general education requirements.

How can the insights from various disciplines inform our understanding of difficult issues? This course explores the methods of different academic disciplines and their implications for an interdisciplinary understanding of complex problems. Each year students will examine a compelling issue (e.g., AIDS, energy policy) by integrating the contributions of several disciplines. Students will develop skills in interdisciplinary research and problem solving, oral and written communication, and in integrating diverse perspectives.

Recommended course preparation: ENGL 226 – Grammar and Usage of Standard English

Prerequisite: You must complete ENGL 100 or equivalent with a C or better.


INDS 335- Degree Plan Writing Seminar

Recommended Course, 1 Credit

This seminar guides students through the process of writing an interdisciplinary degree plan proposal including: a cogent description of an integrative degree; learning objectives and a course list to actualize the degree plan; ideas for capstone research projects; and a professional cover letter. Students will focus on the processes of close editing, re-writing, and collaboration as important techniques for developing an interdisciplinary degree plan but also project and grant proposals of many types. This course is repeatable up to 2 credits or 2 attempts.

Recommended Course Preparation: ENGL 100 .


INDS 399- Guided Reading in Interdisciplinary Studies

Recommended Course, 1-4 Credits

Directed studies carried out under the supervision of faculty mentors previously identified within a student’s INDS degree proposal, under administrative oversight of the student’s primary INDS program advisor. The purpose of this course is to obtain a thorough grounding in key literature pertaining to the area of undergraduate research identified within the student’s degree proposal as a target of the capstone research experience (INDS490).

Recommended Course Preparation: A passed INDS degree proposal. INDS399 is repeatable for a total of up to 4 credits.


INDS 400/H – Independent Study

Recommended Course, 1-3 Credits 

INDS students with an approved degree plan may create an independent study with the approval and guidance of a UMBC faculty mentor. This course enables the student to pursue study in a field that may not be offered in a traditional course format so long as he has support from a faculty member.


INDS 410 – Internship

Recommended Course, 1-6 Credits 

We strongly recommend that students gain professional experience in the field in which they plan to work. You may take INDS 410 as a way to gain credit for doing research and internships relevant to your degree.


INDS 430 – Special Topics

Required Course, 3 Credits 

A seminar course that examines the integrative nature of interdisciplinary studies applied to a specific focus. Different instances of the course deal with fundamentally different topics that each cut across academic disciplines. Each instance of the course is usually offered for 3 Credits, but the course is repeatable for a maximum of 6 credits.

The Spring 2015 Seminars will be:

The Anthropocene: Mitigation, Adaptation, Suffering

Class number: 7886

This interdisciplinary course will investigate the interwoven social, cultural, scientific, and technological aspects of the Anthropocene, the geologic age defined by the influence of humans on the planet. Students in the class can expect to develop an understanding of how the Anthropocene is defined, to examine scientific evidence for that definition, and to discuss the scientific and social implications of that definition. The course will also consider technological and social strategies for managing complexity in this new era.

Creating Food System Justice

Class number: 2441

Students in this seminar will consider current issues under study and reform in the current food system, with a focus on matters implicating the environment, public health and social justice. In addition to classroom study, students will also participate directly in innovative projects, including:  supporting the creation of a new farmers market in West Baltimore;  furtherance of a UMBC student-initiated microgreen enterprise; identification, recovery and development of market outlets for irregularly shaped or marked, but otherwise good, fruits and vegetables that are currently wasted in our food stream; development of a community garden for political refugees living in the Arbutus area; and, the creation of an edible landscape and “Climate Change Monitoring Garden” as part of the UMBC Garden. Students will develop knowledge and skills associated with project planning and management, as well as advocacy and partnership development within various public settings (K12, local government, UMBC). Students will also create and disseminate information about these projects to relevant constituencies.

Kinetic Sculpture Project

Class number: 7902

Kinetic Sculpture Project is an applied learning experience where students research, design, build, and race a bicycle powered work of art. In the 2014-2015 academic year, students from engineering, visual art, environmental science, and interdisciplinary studies designed and built a “Kraken Upcycle” (a plastic sea monster attacking an ancient ship) from recycled plastic bottles and other discarded materials.


Class number: 7100

This class combines physics, astronomy, biology, chemistry, and Earth (planetary) science to explore the relationship between life and the universe. Students will learn about the formation and life cycle of stars, the chemistry that takes place in space, discovery of planets orbiting other stars (“exoplanets”), the formation of our own solar system, the factors that determine habitability of our planet and the origin and evolution of life on Earth. Particular emphasis is placed on the threads that connect insights from different disciplines into a greater understanding of life’s place within the cosmos.

 In the past, INDS 430 has covered such topics as:

  • Special Topics in Health Care: A Case Study Approach
  • Integrative Medicine
  • The Business of Medicine
  • Sustainable Design: the University and Beyond
  • Travel Narratives and the Formation of Global Identity
  • The American Entrepreneur in the 21st Century


INDS 480 – Capstone Project Seminar

Required Course, 2 Credits

Students with an approved INDS proposal who are preparing to do a capstone project are required to complete their capstone 490 proposal form in this course. Learn more about the capstone project in our Capstone Presentation section.


INDS 490/H – Capstone Project 

Required Course, 3 Credits 

An integrative independent project and presentation that students complete in their senior year. Learn more about the capstone project in our Capstone Presentation section.


Required Classes– As part of your INDS degree, you will be required to take a few classes with the express purpose of learning about integrative studies and interdisciplinary problems that we face  today. These courses are taught  by departmental faculty as well as professors from other departments.

Recommended Classes- Being in Interdisciplinary Studies, you will no doubt engage in a great variety of exploration and seek out real world experiences. We encourage that mentality as it incorporates precisely what it means to be an interdisciplinarian, so we also offer two courses that can be arranged and may grant a variable number of credits depending on your activities.