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Academics

Integrative Studies

Integrative Studies
Some schools call it general education. But Otterbein's required Integrative Studies (IS) curriculum is anything but general. In fact, experts call Otterbein's curriculum the model they hope other schools will follow. Our alumni will tell you the IS curriculum truly prepares you for the complexities that await you.

It was the concept of thinking bigger than just a class, bigger than just a major that has guided and really been helpful to me in my career. I've had more experiences in my career than I could have ever expected a little girl from the tiny town of Dresden, Ohio to get to do. I've had to think big. Those Integrative Studies courses and seeing how things connected and all worked together really paved the way.
Julie Longstreth Moorehead '95
Founder of Growth Solutions Ltd. and recipient of the 2012 Otterbein Young Alumni Award for Professional Achievement

The Integrative Studies Program, begun in 1969, is at the heart of Otterbein’s commitment to liberal learning and is the largest component of general education at the University. The program prepares Otterbein undergraduates for the challenges and complexity of a 21st century world. It foregrounds interdisciplinary and integrative skills, competencies, and ways of knowing and is committed to the premise that one's learning should serve and shape one's chosen responsibilities in and to the world.

Year One: First Year Seminar

The First Year Seminar (FYS) is an introduction to your new responsibilities and opportunities as a member of Otterbein's academic community.  It also serves as the first course in the Integrative Studies curriculum.  Guided by a team of faculty advisors and peer mentors, your FYS will help you tap into your strengths, experience diversity, engage in intellectual conversations and develop relationships.

A Sampling of FYS Courses
  • How Green Do I Have to Be?
  • The Science of Happiness
  • The Soundtrack of Your first Year
  • Evolution and Identity in Science Fiction
  • Leadership Pathways
There are 32 FYS course offerings, including one taught by Otterbein President Kathy A. Krendl.  Explore the complete list of FYS courses here.

Year Two & Three: The Five Curricular Threads (IS)

The core of the eight required Integrative Studies courses is organized around the following five curricular threads, which are designed to help grow the breadth of your knowledge. 

  1. The Identity Projects develop your willing skills while emphasizing critical inquiry.
  2. Through Interconnections, using approaches of history and social sciences, you will examine how and why peoples and societies have become increasingly interconnected and interdependent.
  3. Responsibility and Reflection invites reflection on your own values and ethics, while examining issues like the common good and personal and civil engagement.
  4. In Natural Foundations, you confront the wonders and dangers inherent in science and our modern understanding of nature and the physical world.
  5. Creativity and Culture encourages deeper understanding and appreciation of the role of the arts across a diversity of human cultures.

Year Four: Interdisciplinary Dyads (IS)

In a dyad, two courses are linked together by a shared theme with perspectives informed by two different disciplines.For example, in the dyad, "A Sense of Place: An African Experience," you'll explore the biological uniqueness of African countries while also considering connections to the habit and history of the great apes.  They dyad culminates in true interdisciplinary and integrative learning.

The Senior Year Experience (SYE)

If FYS was your transition into college, thick of SYE as your transition into life.  SYE can be completed either through a course, an intense immersive experience, study abroad or an internship.  It has three goals:

  • Action. You will combine the knowledge from the IS curriculum and your majority curriculum and apply them to develop solutions to a contemporary problem.
  • Reflection. SYE asks you to forecast applications for the knowledge and skills you've acquired and plan for how  you'll apply them.
  • Transition.  SYE bridges all that you've learned with you future plans, including co-curricular offerings like financial literacy workshops and professional networking to help prepare you for life after Otterbein.

Learning Goals

  1. To inspire intellectual curiosity about the world as it is and a deeper understanding of the global condition.
  2. To assist students in cultivating intercultural knowledge and competencies.
  3. To promote active and critical reflection on the human self and its place in the world.
  4. To challenge students to critically examine their ethical responsibilities and choices in both local and global contexts.
  5. To encourage purposeful public engagement and social responsibility.

/Integrative Studies Program

Denise Shively, Chairperson
p/ 614.823.3383
e/ dshively@otterbein.edu 
 
Nellie McHugh
Graduate Assistant
p/ 614.823.1124
e/ isassistant@otterbein.edu