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Faculty Resources

IS Mission and Goals & Curricular Overview

Mission Statement

The Integrative Studies Program provides a structure for students to make personal and intellectual connections across the entirety of their Otterbein education— connections among different courses, between courses and co-curricular activities, inside and outside of their major, and between their academic and their professional lives. The program is committed to the premise that one’s learning should serve and shape one’s chosen responsibilities in and to the world, and each course in the program participates in a shared conversation about the theme of Knowledge, Action, and the Public Good. Our courses recognize the varied and vexed impacts of knowledge and action, and they examine multiple, competing, and contradictory conceptions of the public good. Through this program, our undergraduates develop skills, competencies, and ways of knowing that prepare them for the challenges and complexity of a 21st century world. 

The Theme: Knowledge, Action, and The Public Good[1]

Otterbein's Integrative Studies program is committed to a sustained conversation about "Knowledge, Action, and the Public Good." Teaching and learning within Integrative Studies is designed to inspire curiosity and inform action that will support the flourishing of individuals, societies, and the natural world in the widest and deepest sense.

Program Requirements

To fulfill the requirements of the Integrative Studies Program, all students need to take one course from each of the following 8 “Threads”. With the possible exception of a TYS course which is 2 hours, all courses are 3 credit hours.

It is recommended that FYS and INST 1500 be taken in the student’s first year. The 2xxx-level courses can be taken in any order. Students must have junior standing and have taken at least one course from four of the INST 2xxx courses before before taking INST 3000.

Other than FYS, all courses meeting INST requirements must have an INST-prefix. They must all must address the issues outlined in the thread description, and must engage with the assigned learning outcomes. Courses must be open to all Otterbein students, and must have no prerequisites. Departments may cross-list an INST course with a DEPT prefix, or may simply allow their students to count an INST-prefixed course toward a major or minor.


INST 15xx Identity Projects (one course from INST 1500–1599; 3 hrs)
This requirement area invites you to explore the self in dynamic and critical terms. You will consider the interplay of individual and social identities, and study the self as a catalyst of voice, action, and purpose. In the process, you will engage with questions that are central to personhood: How does the self relate to others? How does the self change across time, culture, and circumstance? How does the self find its place in the world, and know its impact? How does one find one’s identity and shape one’s core commitments, both as an individual responsible for one’s own life, and as a participant in the wider world with a shared responsibility for the public good? Courses in the thread will emphasize critical inquiry and foundational expository writing skills.
*Outcomes aligned with this thread include: A.1, B.3, B.4, and D.7    

INST 20xx: Self, Power and Difference (one course from INST 2000–2099; 3 hrs)

In this requirement, you will use the perspectives and methods of social science to explore the self in a diverse society. The social sciences deepen our understanding of how identities such as race, ethnicity, social class, gender, and sexual identity intersect and inform our relations to power. You will consider the ways in which individuals and groups navigate relationships while examining the cultural, economic, geographic, political, psychological, and social structures that make up complex and diverse societies. Together, we will discover how the social sciences inform our understanding of the public good and the collective behavior necessary to develop the larger goals of social equity and justice. 
*Outcomes aligned with this thread include: A.1, B.3, C.6, and D.8  

INST 22xx Reflection and Responsibility (one course from INST 2200–2299; 3 hrs)
Drawing on the disciplines of philosophy and religious studies, this requirement area encourages you to reflect meaningfully on your own values and to explore the ethical dimensions of human existence. You will investigate and examine such important issues as individual and collective responsi- bility to the public good, the notion of a “good life,” and the nature and significance of personal and civic engagement.
*Outcomes aligned with this thread include: A.1, B.3, B.4, and D.7  

INST 24xx Natural Foundations (one course from INST 2400–2499; 3 hrs)
In this requirement, you will draw on the disciplines of the natural sciences to explore our modern understanding of nature and the physical world and how we have arrived at this knowledge. Courses in this thread examine scientific developments, natural phenomena, and how science provides data that is crucial to addressing many issues facing society today. You will consider how the objective findings of science fuel the development of many advancements that are making the world a better place to live. At the same time you will be challenged to consider your role individually and collectively in using scientific advancements responsibly in the modern world.
*Outcomes aligned with this thread include: A.1, B.3, C.6, and D.8  

INST 26xx Creativity and Culture (one course from INST 2600–2699; 3 hrs)
This requirement area explores how human beings find and create meaning in our world, particularly through creative inquiry in the arts. You will engage with knowledge that encourages deeper understanding and appreciation of the role of the arts across a diversity of human cultures, including how the arts engage questions of human meaning and purpose. You will explore how the arts contribute to the public good by suggesting and creating new possibilities for communities and cultures and also consider questions of responsibility (individual and collective) for maintaining and preserving cultural heritage from around the world.
*Outcomes aligned with this thread include: A.1, A.2, B.3, and C.5  

INST 28xx Global Cultures (one course from INST 2800–2899; 3 hrs)
In this requirement, you will draw primarily on the disciplines of history and modern languages to understand the world’s histories and cultures through an intercultural lens. You will see that there is great variation in how and why people have organized their societies, and you will come to a stronger understanding of these societies, past and present, on their own terms. As a result, you will better understand how our modern world has come to take its current shape, including how competing notions of social and public responsibility interact on a transnational and global scale.
*Outcomes aligned with this thread include: A.1, A.2, B.3, and C.5  

INST 30xx Integrative Seminar (one course from INST 3000–3099; 3 hrs)
This culmination of the Integrative Studies program allows students to see how different disciplines can work collaboratively and integratively to respond to vital topics and issues. Recognizing that you have a life you are responsible for, these team-taught courses will encourage you to explore, confront, and clarify your core commitments. In the process, you will better understand yourself as an educated, engaged, and critically reflective citizen with a responsibility to contribute to the public good.
*Outcomes aligned with this thread include: A.1, B.3, E.9, and E.10

Map of Outcomes

Goal A: To help students recognize how knowledge from the liberal arts and sciences is necessary forintelligentaction in pursuit of the public good.


  1. Studentscan articulate how their learning enables them to contribute to some aspect of the public good.
  2. Studentscan analyzecontemporary and historical understandings of the public good.


Goal B: To promote active and critical reflection on the self in its full range of contexts.


  1. Students can reflect on the different ways of knowing, inquiring, and creating represented by the different disciplines.
  2. Studentscan pose and debateenduring and contemporary questions about meaning and purpose.


Goal C: To develop students’ intercultural knowledge and competencies.


  1. Studentscandemonstratesophisticatedunderstanding of the diversity of ideas, beliefs, and practices across cultures and throughout historical eras.
  2. Studentscananalyze the ways in which our lives are structured by social relationships, cultural exchange, and/orour place in the natural world.


Goal D: To challenge students to critically examine their responsibilities to the public good.


  1. Studentscananalyze and reflect on their own identity and values.
  2. Students can demonstrate that they see themselves as responsible, engaged, and informedcitizenscapable and willing to act in ways that will serve the public good.


Goal E: To inspire interdisciplinary collaboration.


  1. Students canintegratedifferent disciplinary approachesin orderto illuminate an issue connected to the public good.
  2. Studentscan evaluatethe benefits and challenges of interdisciplinary conversations.


Each INST course must meet, at a minimum, each of the four INST outcomes assigned to its thread. 

Outcomes in each thread

INST Syllabus Materials

IS Request Forms

/Integrative Studies Program

Joby DeCoster, Interim Director
Towers Hall 211
p/ 614.823.1564 
e/ jdecoster@otterbein.edu 

Andrew Mills, Director
Towers Hall 322
p/ 614.823.1368
e/ INSTDirector@otterbein.edu

Rachel Martin
Graduate Assistant
Towers Hall 223a
p/ 614.823.1124
e/ isassistant@otterbein.edu