Beginning in August, Winthrop University's College of Arts and Sciences will implement a new department geared toward helping students and faculty who cross multiple disciplines.
Located in Bancroft Hall, the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies will be led by Marsha Bollinger, geology professor and the Dalton Endowed Chair of Environmental Sciences and Studies.
Bollinger said the new department will be a positive thing, especially for students.
The department will include bachelor's degrees in environmental studies, a master of liberal arts degree and 10 minors: African-American studies; environmental studies; geography; gerontology; international studies; medieval studies; peace, justice and conflict resolution studies; social sciences; women's studies and sustainability.
"It's going to be programs within Arts and Sciences that do not have a very specific disciplinary home," Bollinger said. "For instance, geography does not sit in a department of geography. We don't have a department of geography, yet geography deals with cultural perspectives. It could talk about physical land structure, so it has a lot of different perspectives to it."
While each of the minors has a program director and operates fine, Bollinger said she and faculty and staff members will be able to promote those minors more and bring in more programming and resources.
"If they were all brought together under a departmental structure, they will be more prominent and it will help develop them more," she said.
Bollinger said it also will help faculty and staff assess what students are learning and doing in the classroom and if there need to be curriculum changes.
During the next few months, Bollinger and others will inform students of the new department through open houses and other measures.
The idea to create the department came from discussions headed by Debra Boyd, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
In a press release, Boyd said Bollinger is an excellent fit for the role because the professor's work has been interdisciplinary since she was an undergraduate student. Bollinger has been on the Winthrop faculty for more than 20 years.
Virginia Williams, an associate history professor who leads the peace, justice and conflict resolution studies, said the interdisciplinary faculty and staff already work well together, but having one department will allow better coordination.
"Students will have more of an understanding of what an interdisciplinary degree can consist of if we're working closely together," Williams said.
Students can see what the different studies are composed of and how they fit together, she said.
"Knowledge doesn't always fit so well into one discipline," she said.