seal  Purdue News

August 25, 2003

Liberal Arts creates new office for interdisciplinary studies

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Ten interdisciplinary studies programs have been combined in a new office at Purdue University to enhance students' liberal arts experience in areas such as Asian, film or medieval studies.

"The Interdisciplinary Studies Office will increase the visibility of interdisciplinary studies for undergraduates and provide more administrative support for graduate students," said Susan Curtis, a professor of history and director of American studies, who will serve as the program's first director of Interdisciplinary Programs. "The office will be a clearinghouse for programs that were scattered in liberal arts departments and the offices of faculty members."

The new office will oversee American, Asian, classical, comparative literature, film, Italian, linguistics, medieval, philosophy and literature and religious studies. Jewish, African-American and women's studies will continue to function as their own programs and collaborate with the Interdisciplinary Studies Office. More than 100 liberal arts students pursue a second major or program in liberal arts interdisciplinary studies.

"These programs capture innovative thinking that goes beyond the general disciplines, and by combining them, they will serve liberal arts, and Purdue, with more avenues of learning," said Toby Parcel, dean of the School of Liberal Arts. "The new structure will provide an increase in services for the smaller interdisciplinary programs."

The office, in the Beering Hall of Liberal Arts and Education, Room 1289, will provide mailboxes for graduate students, and they will have a place to interact with colleagues. The Liberal Arts Honors Program, which was housed in Room 1289, will move to advising and student services in Beering Hall, Room 1114.

Curtis said she expects to see more undergraduate students pursue interdisciplinary studies as a complement to their major.

"It's important for students enrolled in interdisciplinary studies, such as Asian studies, to immerse themselves in the culture, history and language of the subject while meeting their requirements for a disciplinary major like political science," Curtis said. "This undergraduate opportunity is valuable for a liberal arts student pursuing political work or a communications student planning to work overseas. Students who want to continue in academia also can begin a more specific course of study earlier on."

Charles Cutter, history professor, will serve as interim director for American studies. American studies, which is the oldest liberal arts interdisciplinary program at Purdue, was founded in 1964.

Writer: Amy Patterson-Neubert, (765) 494-9723,

Sources: Susan Curtis, (765) 494-4159,

Toby Parcel, (765) 494-3661,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Related Web sites:
Liberal Arts academic departments

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