INTD Brings Variety to Students’ Learning Lives

Sierra Nevada College is unique in its flexibility with majors. An interdisciplinary studies major at SNC constitutes 22 different combinations of fields of study.

These options are not limited either: A freshman or transfer student coming into SNC can choose a combination that has not yet been done and petition for a new integration, potentially creating a major that is tailor-made for their interests.

Katie Zanto, INTD chair, said the major offers a unique curriculum designed to challenge students while preparing them for a diversity of professional careers.

“It is bringing them together to solve a problem, create a solution, find insight, and be creative,” she said. “ at’s what we are really pushing our interdisciplinary program to be about…bringing unique or less unique fields together. Some are more traditionally grouped together but coming up with unique applications from that integration is what we strive for.”

Declared INTD majors are required to take three INTD courses: INTD 250, service learning, and senior portfolio, which is traditionally taken in the last semester of a student’s senior year. This semester the professors leading these classes are Katie Zanto, Nick Babin, and Daryl Teittinen.

These courses are non-traditional by college standards. They are all project-based and give students a chance to nd their passion by using skills and experiences.

“INTD 250 is a series of projects,” Zanto said. “In the spring it is eight projects including the field trip, and in the fall its seven projects.

“These projects allow you to experiment with both depth and breadth within your fields. They also allow you to experiment and, most of all, to try stuff out and see if new ideas come about.”

Service learning is more focused, Zanto said. It gives students a chance to find their lens within their two subjects and to hone in on specifics.

“You move from multiple projects to one action and hands-on project that you are doing throughout the whole semester,” Zanto said.

For the senior portfolio, INTD students combine knowledge from previous courses to develop a culminating nal project and portfolio.

Senior Vanessa Dunn is an international studies and humanities major. She was introduced to the idea of combining her majors and becoming an INTD student by Rosie Hackett. “I decided on it because I was attracted to its alternative approach to learning,” she said.

Dunn is taking both the INTD 250 and service learning courses this semester. She says these courses can help her “build a bridge that can help extend learning and perspective which can be crucial in the work force.”

Sophomore Gabby Dodd is studying new media journalism and says she enjoys the “with the times” approach to traditional journalism. Dodd had not heard of the Interdisciplinary studies program until speaking with SNC professor Ann Marie Brown. “She told me about the program and I’ve been invested with it ever since,” Dodd said. “It really speaks to how I learn.”

The project-based classes help students like Dodd who like a more hands-on approach to learning.

“It makes way more sense to me. It gets me engaged in the subject,” Dodd said. “I have a hard time sitting through a whole lecture. I wish more students took interest in the INTD program. It’s a really unique and effective way to learn.”

Not only does Dodd say that this new way of learning is useful, but she says she also finds many connections between all of her subjects and is constantly progressing within all three disciplines. She says inter- disciplinary studies is like being a “jack of all trades.”

“By the time students are ready to graduate they have built their resume, been out in the community, and are active, civically engaged members of the community,” Zanto said. “They’re either able to plug into a job…or they can then create their own job and work towards a business that they are passionate about and start filling in those pieces.”