University of Southern California

Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Interdisciplinary Studies

College Academic Services Building
(213) 740-2961
FAX: (213) 740-4839

Faculty Director: Thomas Gustafson, Ph.D.

Director: Richard Fliegel, Ph.D.

Interdisciplinary Major

The interdisciplinary major allows students to create an individual, original major. It is a flexible option available when a combination of existing majors and academic minors does not adequately fulfill a student’s educational goals. With close advisement, students can build their own programs of study.

The interdisciplinary major is an intensive research program for students with a focused interest in a topic that requires study from more than one disciplinary perspective. Interdisciplinary majors are usually self-motivated students with good writing skills and an intellectual passion for a particular area of inquiry. Course work is selected to lead to a thesis project integrating the areas of research comprising the interdisciplinary major.


Admission to the interdisciplinary major is by application. Applications, which may be obtained from the program office, are considered by a special admissions committee. Interested students must have a GPA of 3.0 (A = 4.0) or above; those with less than a 3.3 are the exception. No one is usually admitted after the end of the first semester of the junior year.

Program Requirements

Students in the program must meet all graduation requirements of the college. When admitted, students establish an academic “contract,” which outlines each semester’s course of study through graduation. The contract includes a minimum of nine (four unit) upper-division courses, distributed in at least two fields. The primary focus of the major should be in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. These areas of concentration must then be combined in a senior thesis or project, written under the guidance of a faculty committee.


Course prerequisites cannot be waived; admission to courses restricted to majors is subject to availability and direct negotiations; admission to departments and/or schools which have their own admission requirements must be processed separately.

Bachelor of Arts in Narrative Studies

See English for a full description of the major.

Minor in Critical Approaches to Leadership

This minor is offered by faculty from several disciplines whose perspectives are brought to bear on issues and questions that should inform the judgements of capable, ethical leaders. Students are introduced to theoretical and historical models of leadership, engage in case studies of modern leaders, select critical electives that explore ethical and social considerations of leadership, examine professional applications of leadership principles, and integrate what they have learned in a capstone course. The emphasis of the minor is on leadership as expertise in community-building and takes advantage of USC’s programs in community service, including the Joint Educational Project, the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics and other internships available through the Division of Student Affairs.

Five upper-division courses, totaling 20 units, are required.

Core Courses Units
Choose two:
CLAS 370 Leaders and Communities 4
CLAS 375 Alexander the Great: Leadership, Personality and World Conquest 4
PHIL 335 Theoretical Models of Leadership 4
MDA 325 Case Studies in Modern Leadership 4
Critical Electives Units
Group A — choose one
PHIL 337 History of Modern Political Philosophy 4
PHIL 437 Social and Political Philosophy 4
PSYC 355 Social Psychology 4
REL 341 Ethics in a Technological Society 4
REL 360 Ethical Issues in the New Medical Revolution 4
REL 375 Conflict and Change and the Ethics of Business 4
SOCI 320 Social Psychology 4
Group B — choose one
IR 303 Leadership and Diplomacy 4
MOR 470 Global Leadership 4
POSC 365 World Political Leadership 4
POSC 423 Presidents and the Presidency 4
Capstone Course Units
AMST 365 Leadership in the Community, or
MDA 365 The Art and Adventure of Leadership, or
MDA 475 The Future of California 4
Core Courses Units
Choose two:
CLAS 370 Leaders and Communities 4
CLAS 375 Alexander the Great: Leadership, Personality and World Conquest 4
PHIL 335 Theoretical Models of Leadership 4
MDA 325 Case Studies in Modern Leadership 4

Interdisciplinary Minor in International Health, Development, and Social Justice

This minor is intended for students who wish to understand the challenges associated with health care as an ethical issue in the international context. In doing so, it focuses on the convergence of three large fields of inquiry, raising questions about their intersection. Social justice is concerned with equity, with questions of fairness as they inform (or should inform) access to resources necessary for the survival and well-being of people around the globe.

To provide the necessary content, this minor presents an introduction to political economy, to cross-cultural approaches to health and wellness, and to theories of economic development as they relate to health care.

This minor is intended to prepare students for careers and leadership roles in the arenas of international health, medical ethics, overpopulation, economic development, human welfare and principles of social justice.

As with all minors, students should include four courses outside their major, four courses at the upper-division level, and four courses that are not being used to satisfy any other subject requirement. In addition, to satisfy this minor, students must choose courses from at least two different departments.


Lower Division requirement: Choose one course (4 units) Units
Students should have some experience with engaging ethical questions or considering the context in which these issues arise, which can be accomplished by completing one of the following:
ANTH 101 Body, Mind and Healing 4
ANTH 105g Culture, Medicine and Politics 4
ANTH 125g Social Issues in Human Sexuality and Reproduction 4
ANTH 205 Introduction to Global Studies and Overseas Research 4
BISC 102Lxg Humans and Their Environment 4
BISC 103Lx General Biology for the Environment and Life 4
BISC 150Lxg The Nature of Human Health and Disease 4
ECON 205 Principles of Macroeconomics 4
GEOL 108Lg Crises of a Planet 4
IR 101xg International Relations 4
IR 213* The Global Economy 4
PHIL 137gm Social Ethics for Earthlings and Others 4
PHIL 140g Contemporary Moral and Social Issues 4
SOCI 225g Sociology of Health and the Body: Social Perspectives 4
SOCI 242g Sociology, Human Behavior, and Health 4
SWMS 225 Gender, Sex, and Science: A Gender Studies Approach 4
*Prerequisite: IR 210

Introduction to Political Economy: Choose one course (4 units) Units
The courses in this and the following categories provide an understanding of the forces that shape global development.
ECON 238xg Political Economy and Social Issues 4
ECON 340* Economics of Less Developed Countries 4
ECON 350* The World Economy 4
POSC 435 Politics and the Economy 4
*Prerequisite: ECON 203 or 205

Theories of Development: Choose one course (4 units) Units
IR 325 Rich and Poor States in the World Political Economy 4
IR 344 Developing Countries in World Politics 4
IR 454 The International Political Economy of Development 4
POSC 255g Cultures, Civilizations and Ethnicities in World Politics 4
POSC 450 Political Development 4
POSC 456 Women in International Development 4
SOCI 314 Analyzing Social Statistics 4
SOCI 362 Global and Transnational Sociology 4
SOCI 470 Development and Social Change in the Third World 4
Cross-cultural Perspectives on Health and Wellness: Choose one course (4 units) Units
These courses explore cultural attitudes and differences about health and wellness that affect decisions about health care.
ANTH 301 The Performance of Healing 4
ANTH 305 Childhood, Birth and Reproduction 4
ANTH 405 Evolutionary Medicine 4
IR 339 Public Health and International Relations 4
PSYC 367* Health Psychology 4
PSYC 462m** Culture and Mental Health 4
REL 460 Senior Seminar: Medical Ethics 4
SOCI 385 Population, Society, and Aging 4
SOCI 475 Medical Sociology 4
SWMS 336 Health, Gender and Ethnicity 4
*Prerequisite: PSYC 100

**Recommended preparation: PSYC 100

Perspectives on Social Justice: Choose one course (4 units) Units
These courses familiarize students with the application of legal and ethical questions to social phenomena and the allocation of resources.
ANTH 300 Evolution, Ecology, and Culture 4
IR 316 Gender and Global Issues 4
IR 401 The United Nations and World Order 4
PHIL 431 Law, Society, and Politics 4
PHIL 437 Social and Political Philosophy 4
REL 366 Religion and Social Change 4
SOCI 360m Social Inequality: Class, Status, and Power 4
SWMS 384m Gender, Social Inequality, and Social Justice 4
Capstone Requirement: Choose one course (4 units) Units
These three capstone courses examine efforts to introduce issues of social justice to the distribution of health care and other resources essential for human survival and well-being.
MDA 320 Global Ethics: Poverty, Health and the Human Condition 4
SOCI 408 Volunteers, Non-Governmental Organizations, and Everyday Politics 4
SOCI 450 Non-Governmental Organizations/Non-profits Field Practicum 4

Courses of Instruction

Interdisciplinary Major Program (INDS)

The terms indicated are expected but are not guaranteed. For the courses offered during any given term, consult the Schedule of Classes.

INDS 100 Topical and Multidisciplinary Seminars (1–4, max 12, FaSp) Small group investigation from an interdisciplinary perspective.

INDS 101 Directed Research and Tutorials (1–4, FaSp) Research and study with L.A.S. Faculty Associates and other faculty.

INDS 102 Field Study (1–4, FaSp) In-service experience in a variety of off-campus institutions under the supervision of an L.A.S. Faculty Associate.

INDS 300 Topical and Multidisciplinary Seminars (1–4, max 12, FaSp) See INDS 100 for description.

INDS 301 Directed Research and Tutorials (1–4, FaSp) See INDS 101 for description.

INDS 302 Field Study (1–4, FaSp) See INDS 102 for description.

INDS 400 Topical and Multidisciplinary Seminars (1–4, max 12, FaSp) See INDS 100 for description.

INDS 401 Directed Research and Tutorials (1–4, FaSp) See INDS 101 for description.

INDS 402 Field Study (1–4, FaSp) See INDS 102 for description.

INDS 494 Senior Thesis (1–8, FaSp) Writing the IDM senior thesis under the supervision of a faculty qualifying exam committee.