BIS 301: Foundations of Interdisciplinary Studies


Arizona State University                                                                                Fall 2009

Text Box: Class:			M, W  9:40 -11:35 a.m.	UCENT 207
			& on line (hybrid course)	
			SLN:  81583		
Instructor:		Dave Wells, Ph.D. (you can call me a four-letter word as long as it’s “Dave”)
Office:			UCENT 351
Phone:			(602) 496-0615
Office Hours:		M 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., 
			T and Th 10:45 a.m. – Noon and by appointment














Course Description

 This course introduces interdisciplinary studies core knowledge, skills, and integration in academic and applied settings.


Course Objectives and Expectations

IDS core knowledge

¨      Understand and explain the following terms:  academic disciplines / disciplinary, crossdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary.

¨      Gain awareness of the history, background, and context of interdisciplinary studies.

Concentration area / knowledge of disciplines

¨      Identify and present key characteristics of specific disciplines.

¨      Examine, apply, or compare key insights, concepts or theories from each discipline to illustrate the disciplinary perspective.

Integration / synthesis

¨      Draw connections between multiple disciplines, including your own specific areas of study.

¨      Provide evidence of integrative thinking.

¨      Apply at least one model/framework of integration.

Interdisciplinarity in applied settings

¨      Understand how disciplinarity and interdisciplinarity function outside the university.

¨      Understand organizational trends as related to notions of interdisciplinarity.



Personal / career development

¨      Assess individual strengths and opportunities for improvement with respect to future success in increasingly interdisciplinary workplaces and social settings.

“L” Writing Related

¨      Build skills in organization, sentence structure, and evidence

¨      Build skills in proper citation/attribution of sources

¨      Build skills in oral presentation


Required Texts

Repko, Allen F. (2008), Interdisciplinary Research: Process and Theory, ISBN: 9781412959155 (paperback), Publisher: Sage. ($56 new, $42 used)

Hewett, Les, Andrew Hewett and Luc d’Abadie (2005), The Power of Focus for College Students: How to Make College the Best Investment of Your Life, (Paperback) ISBN: 0757302890 Publisher: HCI. ($15 new, $11.25 used)

Associated Web Sites: and

Additional Readings on Interdisciplinary Studies posted at the course web site



Web Enhancement

As part of this course, you have been enrolled at the website  (note: no www in web address).  The web sites uses your ASURITE UserId and password.  The course will appear for you under the “courses” tab.  If you've forgotten your ASURITE ID, either call Computer Accounts at (480) 965-1211 or go to  Numerous course documents will be posted at the web site, including your assignments, grading rubrics, selected readings, web links and selected lecture notes or other aids.  You can also access your grade, send papers to the instructor, participate in a discussion/bulletin board, as well as many other things.  Don’t forget to forward email to the email address you use, as the web site sends email to your ASU email account.


Technical Support:

Technical Support can be found at or call the Help Desk (480) 965-6500 or email



Disciplinary Lexicon List (in class use): due Aug. 26

Bring to class 10 terms, categories, labels, or theories used in each of your concentration areas (20 total). Be sure and clearly indicate the concentration areas.—actually not a major assignment.


Disciplinary Map: due Aug. 31

This assignment takes you through the focus, questions asked, key contributors, key terms, concepts, theories/analytical approaches, and embedded assumptions for each concentration area as well as examining how your concentration areas connect.  Formatting document posted at Blackboard.


Disciplinary Analysis: due Sept. 4

Define and use each concentration as a disciplinary lens to evaluate an issue/problem (different issue or problem for each is fine).  You CAN use past papers/projects--but also feel free to improve them. If you use a past assignment make sure you explain how it fulfills the goals of the assignment (and likewise if you do your own).  I’m looking for your ability to correctly APPLY concepts or theories to provide an understanding through the lens of that discipline.   So be sure that aspect is clear.  In some cases you may need a paragraph explaining how the assignment does this, if you think it might not be sufficiently clear. Disciplinary analyses need to be equivalent of 300+ words per concentration area (or the equivalent if not in paper form).


Integrated You: Passion Puzzle Analysis with SMART Goal Plan: due Sept. 9

The cover of this essay is your passion puzzle (you can type it by section if you can’t capture the image—directions at Blackboard).   In this 1000-1500 word essay, you want to examine the choices you made.  How do you justify them?  What did you exclude?  If you could only include three for each category, what would they be and why?  Explore interconnections and possible disconnections between values, interests, skills and ambitions.  Use the Passion Puzzle to come up with ways to achieve integration (parts that do fit together).   Use the Passion Puzzle to identify challenges for integration (parts that really don't fit well together).  Are there different "you's" that emerge in different contexts?  Use these questions to pull together a coherent narrative (so don’t just answer it sequentially, but use your theme to pull it together).


Based on your Passion Puzzle analysis, establish and lay out a plan with benchmarks to achieve a SMART goal.  Justify that it is a SMART goal and connect it to your Passion Puzzle.  You must select a goal which you can begin immediately and assess progress within a month.   Make sure your essay has an introduction that captures the essence of the Integrated You—or the not quite (or very conflicted) Integrated You, and a conclusion that nicely wraps up the paper, perhaps related to your SMART goal, without introducing new ideas.


Cross-Disciplinary Paper and Presentation: due Sept. 14

With a partner (and possibly one group of 3), develop and define the My Concentration of Your Concentration (e.g., the business --or business-based analysis--of education). Group of three rotating so all three people are covered.  Identify a key question or focus and apply pertinent concepts or theories from one of your concentrations to be applied TO one of your partner’s concentrations (and vice versa for your partner).  Justify your choice of focus, concepts or theories.  200-300 word paper for each partner.  Presentation combines both and is up to 5 minutes long plus discussion.


Multidisciplinary Paper and Presentation: due Sept. 28

In a group of four, use the concentration area NOT used in the Cross-Disciplinary case.  Based on those concentrations, identify a question that fits well with them.  Each person uses their concentration area and finds research on it based on a disciplinary perspective that relates to the question.  Examine the disciplinary background of authors or experts cited as you provide a synopsis of four of the best sources related to your question.  Then focus in most detail on the two or three that stand out as most useful and representative of the disciplinary perspective relative to your question.  Include an introduction and conclusion. Length of each written section should be 1000-1500 words plus a bibliography and a System Map or Theory Map (or some variation on either) to help visually capture your paper.


Papers are compiled together with a brief introduction on the problem and what each person did—but no conclusion.


The 8-12 minute presentation (2-3 minutes per person) includes an introduction to help link everything together plus an ending summary of what your feel are the most intriguing discoveries or findings or underlying challenges based on the research done.


Confidential Peer Evaluations will be used to ascertain relative contributions and will be used as part of your overall score determination for the presentation component.


Pluridisciplinary Paper and Benchmark Evaluation of SMART Goal Progress: due Oct. 5

Look at your group paper in the multidisciplinary project and compare and contrast how the different disciplines approached the issue.  What did they have in common?  How did they differ?  Approximately 500-600 words long with an introduction including a thesis that captures your argument, a body with evidence and a conclusion that wraps the paper up well without being a pure summary and not introducing new ideas not suggested or implied earlier (assume the reader has read but not memorized the multidisciplinary paper).


For the benchmark evaluation component (beyond the 500-600 words) evaluate your progress based on a benchmark that occurs during the course.  Be sure and have clear and detailed documentation (which could be based on the chart posted on line) related to how you’ve been tracking your performance.


Integration Paper: due Oct. 14

Build off your pluridisciplinary paper by identifying your concentration area and one other concentration area in the project where you see tension or complementary aspects.  Apply an approach to Common Ground (ch. 11) to create an interdisciplinary result.  Use the multidisciplinary paper's research to discuss the nature of the conflict/tension or complementary aspects and how you might (or might not) work beyond the tension (it might be a fundamental challenge) or come through with a solution.  Feel free to consult with that other person and do additional research. Approximately 500-700 words long focused entirely on the integration issue plus a bibliography (be sure to cite sources in the text as well).


7 day return guarantee and 3 day early review

If you submit your assignment on time, it will be graded and returned within one week of the due date deadline (electronic documents or web site links needs to be readable and posted properly at the web site).  If I fail to post your evaluation within that time period, then you'll receive a 5 percent bonus. 


If you get me a draft of an assignment at least 3 days before it is due, I’ll try and look it over and give you feedback on it.  I can’t make a full guarantee here, as I have nearly 200 students this semester and depending on what’s due in my POS 110 and POS 310 classes I might not have time.


ASU Google Documents:

For some collaborative activities in the course you may wish to use Google Documents.  When working on Google Documents use the "edit" tab and don't forget to click on "save," so your changes are saved!  Google will tell you who else is on line and you'll be both writing on the same "blackboard" so to speak—so you can interact with each other, but don't have to worry that your work will somehow get lost.  I think you'll find it a marvelous tool.  You can email each other and even download the document for your records!  Check them out at!


Electronic Assignments via myasu:

All assignments will be handed out in class and/or available at the web site. If you choose to submit an assignment electronically, please use the myasu web site.  If handing in via myasu click on “assignments” and the “view/complete” on the bottom for assignment you wish to hand in electronically.  Please do not email assignments. The instructor is not responsible for assignments if they are sent via email.


 Click on the assignment name or “view/complete” on the bottom of the assignment you wish to hand in electronically.  A dialogue box will open where you can attach a file and write text.  To assure I can open your file, save your file either as a MS Word document (.doc) or in rich text format (.rtf) and avoid using a “#” or any character that appears above keyboard numbers (e.g., “!”, “@”,…) in the file name.  Also, don't allow Word to default name your document with the first line. When you submit under assignments, an icon will appear under “grades” to show that you have submitted a file.  If you’re concerned about your file, click on the icon and you should be able to open the file you uploaded. When graded the icon will change to your actual score and you’ll be able to click on the score to access feedback.


For quizzes you can save your work and come back, but for me to receive it you need to click on "submit."  A lock appears under "grades" when you have "saved" but not yet "submitted" an assignment whether it's a paper or a quiz.  If you ever think you've submitted an assignment and go to "grades" and only find a dash "-" then you haven't submitted properly and need to redo it.  You don't need to contact me to make sure I got it, if you use the web site.


Please do NOT email me assignments unless you have a web site problem or accidentally send the wrong file at the web site. 


Paper Copy Assignments:  Paper copies received will be handed back in class, though grade sheets may be posted on line.



(late work accepted for assignments worth 10 or more points)





Disciplinary  Lexicon List


Wed., Aug. 26


Blackboard IDS and Disciplinary Exercise


Fri., Aug. 28


Disciplinary Map and

Passion Puzzle

Monday, Aug. 31



Disciplinary Analysis and

Blackboard Power of Focus Exercise

Friday,  Sept. 4



Integrated You: Passion Puzzle Analysis with SMART Goal Plan

Wednesday, Sept. 9



Cross-Disciplinary Paper and Presentation

Monday, Sept. 14


Blackboard Multidisciplinary  Exercise

Blackboard Cite Master Quiz


Friday, Sept. 18




Wednesday, Sept. 30–may be earlier if Career Services wishes to review before class


Multidisciplinary Paper Advanced Draft and

Comments on Others’ sections


Friday, Sept. 25

Sunday, Sept 27



Multidisciplinary Papers and Presentation (with peer evaluation)


Monday, Sept. 28


Blackboard Tension and Complementary Aspects Exercises

Friday, Oct. 2


Pluridisciplinary Paper and Benchmark Evaluation of SMART Goal Progress


Monday, Oct 5


Blackboard Integrative Idea Sharing


Friday, Oct. 9


Integrative Draft


Monday, Oct. 12



Integration Paper

Wednesday, Oct. 14





After Class Feedback Group

1 pt. per time up to two points.

2 max.

(extra credit)









Unless otherwise specified, assignments are due at class time on the day due (and midnight for internet activities for Friday or Sunday) which for those absent will equate to 10 a.m. with web site links disappearing if the assignment is not allowed to be submitted late. However, assignments worth at least 10 points you may submit late.  The late penalty is 2 percent for assignments received through midnight on the day due and 10 percent if received within 1 week of the due date. After 1 week, assignments receive no credit unless you’ve worked with me before then to explain circumstances and set up a submittal plan.  I will place these nonsubmittals in a special category for determining your final grade, provided your overall average is at least 65 percent with the no credit included.   Due to end of term constraints, your Integration Paper must be submitted no later than Friday, October 16 at Noon.   Extensions beyond what’s stated here will be made under documented circumstances where I deem an extension appropriate.




Are you interested in learning or achievement?  As an instructor, I’m interested in your learning—as I’m sure you are, too—there’s just a little problem called grades!  Do you ever just skip the comments and look at “what you got,” the letter or numerical grade—if so you’re looking at the grade, not the learning.  Try and read the comments.


Still worried?  I have the three day early review (see above) and you’ll often be working with others and getting their feedback.  I also try and create building blocks for assignments to assist you toward the final work.


If I’ve worked it out well, then your grade should match up with your demonstrated learning  While I’ll follow convention in assigning + and -, e.g., 90% guarantees an A-, I’ve left it more open, so I can use discretion to evaluate students in the gray areas.


For students at risk of not receiving a “C”, their performance on major assignments, especially those later in the term will be compared relative to their overall point total in determining their final grade.


Here’s the criteria:

(your percent will NOT be rounded, though the instructor will review anyone very close)





















Grade Disputes: On particular assignments, if you have a concern regarding my evaluation of your work, contact me within one week of receiving your assignment back to seek further explanation of the evaluation.  Before meeting with me, document using the criteria for the assignment with evidence from your assignment to show me what you believe I overlooked when I evaluated your work.


Participation: Participation is partly based on being there.  I will take attendance, and note those who arrive late or leave early without permission.  Please contact me before class or as soon as possible after, if you are absent, especially if it is for a reason for which you might be excused. Documentation may be requested to excuse absences. 


While you’re welcome to bring a cell phone, you shouldn’t be checking text messages or email during class.  Likewise, laptops if brought to class are for class activities, not for Facebook or surfing the internet.   If I observe inappropriate use, I will notify you. 


Many assignments will require that you work with others.  I may make student match ups prior to class (e.g., the cross-disciplinary partner)-so if you’re absent that day, you’ll put someone else at a disadvantage and also lose credit on the assignment (min. 1 pt. up to 10 percent deduction).


If you are absent half of the time, you will receive no credit for participation.  Credit will be based on the degree you are present and engaged beyond that. 


Participation records will be kept in an excel file at the web site, so you can track of my records, where other students in class will also see it.  If you’re working in a group on a particular day, the participation score may be group-based rather than individual.  If you have concerns about how your participation is evaluated, see me as soon as you see a discrepancy, not at the end of the term.


After Class Feedback Group

Each week I will conduct an After Class Feedback Group.  Participants will receive 1 point of extra credit for doing so, up to a maximum of 2 points.  After meeting with those students with questions, I’ll convene the After Class Feedback Group.  This group’s task will be to assess the class that just concluded and give advice on future class meetings as well as provide feedback on past and upcoming assignments.  Our meeting will last approximately 15 minutes and may relocate to another room, if another class is entering our room.  So the group is not too unwieldy, participation will be limited to six students, and sign up sheets will be circulated in class.  If your schedule does not allow participation, talk to me about times when class might end a bit early and the After Class Feedback Group occurs earlier.


Academic Integrity

When I read your paper, I expect that it’s your work: the data is real; sources are cited properly, and you don’t represent the work or ideas of others as your own.  The minimum penalty for plagiarism in this course is the loss of 1 letter grade on the assignment, but the penalty is often  no credit on the assignment and even failure in the course with a grade of “XE.”  Most students don’t do this intentionally, but intention doesn’t get you off!  I’ve included an avoiding plagiarism teaching module for you to make sure you understand proper citation in class and have resources available to you.  Please review the BIS program’s academic integrity policy, if you haven’t done so before.  Access it under “forms” at the BIS web site or directly at


Students with disabilities

ASU endeavors to make reasonable adjustments in its policies, practices, services and facilities to ensure equal education programs and activities. 

·             Disability Accommodations: Qualified students with disabilities who require disability accommodations in this class are encouraged to make their requests to me at the beginning of the semester either during office hours or by appointment. Note: Prior to receiving disability accommodations, verification of eligibility from the Disability Resource Center (DRC) is required. Disability information is confidential. 

·             Establishing Eligibility for Disability Accommodations: Students who feel they will need disability accommodations in this class but have not registered with the Disability Resource Center (DRC) should contact DRC immediately. Their office is located on the first floor of the University Center Building, Suite 160. DRC staff can also be reached at: 602-496-4321 (V), 602-496-0378 (TTY), and at: Their hours are 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Eligibility and documentation policies can be viewed at:


Final Thoughts

Let’s have fun, respect each other by helping rather than interfering with classroom learning, and do our best to recognize that everyone has a life outside of class. 


College can be stressful---so if you’re facing challenges, please contact me earlier rather than later about potential accommodations and/or see some of our professionals who can be of assistance, such as Counseling and Consultation,  If religious observances or an official ASU activity conflict with anything I’ve scheduled, please make me aware of this as soon as possible, so we can make appropriate accommodations for you.




PLANNED COURSE CALENDAR (subject to change)

*days when After Class Feedback group meets.







Day Plan

Week 1


Aug. 24

Exploring Interdisciplinary Studies


IR ch. 1 & 2 (Interdisciplinary Research by Repko)

Introducing Selves,  Distinguishing and identifying disciplines, characteristics of interdisciplinary studies and interdisciplinarians



Aug. 26

Disciplinary Focus

Disciplinary Lexicon List (in class use)

IR ch. 3 & 4 (assumptions,  concepts and theory sections only)

Disciplinary Activities: Overall Perspective,  Approach,  Assumptions, Concepts, Theory—Identifying Disciplines



Aug. 28/30

Find IDS on the web, comment on someone else’s post//Identify Disciplines


POF ch. 2 (Power of Focus for College Students by Hewitt et al.)

Post by Aug. 28/Comment by Aug. 30

Week 2


Aug. 31

Integrated Disciplines & Integrated You

Disciplinary Map (done) and Passion Puzzle (in class use)

IR ch. 5

Adjusted Bloom’s Taxonomy, Jigsaw Metaphor-focus on inaccuracies—apply to Passion Puzzle



Sept. 2

SMART goals and Creating a Strategy


POF ch. 4 & 5

Expertise Sharing Round Robin, Benchmark Setting, Evaluating and Reassessing



Sept. 4

Discussions of your ideas and Power of Focus

Disciplinary Analysis

POF ch. 6


Week 3


Sept. 7







Sept. 9

Cross-Disciplinary Examples

Integrated You: Passion Puzzle Analysis with SMART Goal Plan





Sept. 11

Work with Cross-Disciplinary Partner




Week 4


Sept. 14

Cross-Disciplinary Presentations &  Research Questions for Multidisciplinary Project

Cross-Disciplinary Presentation and Paper

IR ch. 6 & ch. 7 (through research map, p. 163-diagram p. 164)

Students explore and develop a research map in class for a possible project (in class).   In class sharing.



Sept. 16

Discussing the Multidisciplinary Project and Getting the Most Out of Your Team


IR ch. 6 &  7 and readings posted on web

Groups formed.   Team Building Activity. Work on identifying a research question and developing a research map (goal to find question that deals with remaining concentration area)



Sept. 18

Multidisciplinary Exercises, Citation Quiz


IR ch. 7

Each person develops concept/principle map from their research.  Post to group web page and fill in perspective stated.

Week 5


Sept. 21

Progress Meetings on Multidisciplinary Project

Bring research material synoposis

IR ch. 9 (stop at p. 228 evaluating strengths and weaknesses)

Meet in class---instructor will visit group at assigned time.  See Blackboard.



Sept. 23

Internship Search Workshop plus time for Multidisciplinary Project



Career Services Specialist Cindy Parnell



Sept. 25/27

Upload Multidisciplinary Papers

Multidisciplinary Papers/Post comments on other’s sections/Create Slides


Papers are very advanced drafts expected to comply with assignment.  Final versions due Sept. 28.  Post advanced draft paper by Sept. 25/Comments by Sept. 27

Week 6


Sept. 28

Multidisciplinary Presenations

Multidisciplinary Papers and Presentation





Sept. 30

Resume Review

Pluridisciplinary: Looking at Selected Presentations

Bring Resume(s)

IR ch. 9 (pp. 228-236)

Career Services Specialist Cindy Parnell



Oct. 2

Identifying tension and complementary aspects exercises


IR ch. 10


Week 7


Oct. 5

Focus on Integration—Approaches to Common Ground

Pluridisciplinary Paper and Benchmark Evaluation of  SMART Goal Progress

IR ch. 11




Oct. 7

Focus on Integration 2


IR ch. 12




Oct. 9

Share integrative ideas related to your pluridisciplinary paper




Week 8


Oct. 12

Bring Integrative Drafts

Integrative Draft Paper





 Oct. 14

NO CLASS submit paper

Integration Paper





.jumpBarSep {

  color: #000099;

  font-size: xx-small;


td .jumpBarBoxFill .jumpBarContent {

  height: 1.3em;

  max-height: 1.3em;

  position: relative;

  overflow-y: hidden;

  margin-bottom: 0.1em;


.jumpBar {

  margin-bottom: 3px;



.jumpBarSep {

  color: #000099;

  font-size: xx-small;


td .jumpBarBoxFill .jumpBarContent {

  height: 1.3em;

  max-height: 1.3em;

  position: relative;

  overflow-y: hidden;

  margin-bottom: 0.1em;


.jumpBar {

  margin-bottom: 3px;