Multidisciplinary Programs

Africana Studies

Founded in 1969 out of student protest and political upheaval, the Africana Studies Program continues its commitment to social change and the examination and creation of new knowledge. The program brings together scholars and scholarship from many fields of study and draws on a range of theoretical and methodological approaches to explore the cultures, histories, institutions, and societies of African and African-descended people. Program strengths include: education and activism; literature; feminism; political thought; Arabic language and culture; critical race theory; queer studies; prison studies; visual culture; creative writing; social, cultural, and political movements; and popular culture. More

American Studies

American Studies offers students an opportunity to engage the society, culture, institutions, and mores of the United States from a variety of perspectives and through the methodologies of different intellectual disciplines. Because of the social diversity of Americans, the study of American culture necessarily involves consideration of many cultures and must ask how this diversity coexists with a national identity; therefore, all courses incorporate multiple examinations of race, ethnicity, class and gender in America. Study of the subject matter is multidisciplinary and most courses are team-taught. Majors create their own courses of study and undertake a year-long thesis or project during the senior year. More

Asian Studies

The program offers a multidisciplinary and global approach to studying the peoples and cultures of Asia. Course offerings in both the social sciences and the humanities focus on East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, and cover a wide range of topics, including East-West encounters, diasporas and globalization, social movements, environmental and political histories, technology, economies, regional security issues, gender and sexuality, post-colonial and nationalist film genres, music, art history, popular culture, Asian education systems, history, rituals, religion and Asian healing traditions, and both Asian and Asian American literary texts and social contexts. Options include a major and a correlate in Asian Studies as well as a correlate in Asian American Studies. Majors and correlates work closely with advisers to design their program of study based on their specific interests. The program encourages and places students to study abroad in Asia. More

Environmental Studies

This program invites students to explore environmental issues through a wide range of perspectives in the social and natural sciences, as well as the humanities and the arts. Students combine work in a particular field of their choice with multidisciplinary courses, often team-taught, in the program. The major involves field experience undertaken in regional settings (such as Vassar's 416-acre ecological preserve and urban ecology projects in New York City) and through international programs. Introductory and senior seminars frame the major, which also includes a senior project or thesis of the student's own design. More

The Independent Program

This program allows Vassar students to pursue areas of concentration that lie outside the college's existing majors. Students in the program design their own interdisciplinary majors in consultation with faculty and the director. They propose a sequence of courses and independent work that culminates in an interdisciplinary senior project or thesis. Independent majors approved by the program are comparable in breadth, depth, cohesion, and rigor to other majors at Vassar. More

International Studies

The program provides a solid, systematic grounding in the study of global interdependence while allowing students to develop strengths in at least two traditional disciplines. In consultation with the program's director, each student designs a program that builds a core of knowledge in the international social sciences, develops fluency in at least one foreign language, and includes upper-level work that may come from the sciences, humanities, or literature and arts. Students are encouraged to spend their junior year abroad. In addition, each year the program organizes a specialized study trip to an area of current interest. Treated as a semester course, students learn about the language, culture, and history of the area they will visit. Recent destinations have included Cuba, Indonesia, Russia, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe. Work in the final year includes a senior seminar in the program and the completion of a thesis. More

Jewish Studies

This program provides a multidisciplinary and multicultural approach to the study of Jews and their cultures — a subject unified by a history of some three millennia. This historical experience is marked by a rich diversity with respect to race, ethnicity, and gender roles; class formation, political status and affiliation, and geography; languages, literature, and other forms of expression; and religious beliefs and practice. Majors who intend to spend the junior year abroad in Israel are advised to begin with study of Hebrew in the freshman year. More

Latin American and Latino/a Studies

The program provides a multidisciplinary approach to the study of Latin America and the Latino/a populations of the Americas, allowing students to explore the multiplicity of cultures and societies of Latin and Latino/a America in ways that acknowledge the permeability, or absence, of borders. The program emphasizes knowledge of global politics, economies, cultures, and nations as theorized, imagined, and practiced through Latin/Latino/a America. Students often study abroad (or away) during one or both semesters of their junior year; while on campus they often do community-engaged learning in organizations rooted in the local Latino/a community. Students may elect a senior thesis or project, co-directed by faculty from two different departments; they may also do additional coursework in lieu of a senior thesis or project. More

Medieval and Renaissance Studies

The program provides a coherent course of study of the arts, history, literature, and thought of European civilization from the fall of Rome to the 17th century. In addition to a team-taught interdisciplinary course in medieval and Renaissance culture, students select courses and seminars from art and music, language and literature, history, philosophy, and religion. Students concentrating in medieval studies must demonstrate competence in Latin or at least one vernacular language (French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish) besides Old English; those concentrating in the Renaissance must achieve a reading knowledge of Italian. The program culminates in a senior thesis combining at least two disciplines. The program also offers a correlate sequence. More

Media Studies

The program encourages the understanding and critical evaluation of new and old media technologies, the centrality of media in global and local culture, and the contemporary and historical impact of media on individuals and societies. The program emphasizes several interrelated approaches to the study of media: multidisciplinary perspectives derived from the arts, humanities, social and natural sciences; historical study of communication and the representation of knowledge; theoretical and critical investigation of how media shape our understandings of reality; examination of global as well as indigenous and oppositional media forms and practices; and practical work in the use of media technologies. Prospective majors submit a "focus statement" outlining their interests, objectives, the proposed course of study, and a tentative senior project. More

Neuroscience and Behavior

This multidisciplinary program applies the perspectives and techniques of biology and psychology to the study of the brain and behavior. Neuroscientists examine how the interactions of the brain, body, and environment contribute to animal (including human) behavior. They study the structure and function of the nervous system, the development and evolution of neural and behavioral systems, and interactions among behavior, environment, physiology, and heredity. Academic options include courses in neuroscience proper as well as in both parent departments, field work, in-depth research, and independent work. A senior seminar is required. More

Science, Technology and Society

This multidisciplinary program engages broadly the conversation on the intersections between science, technology, and a breadth of social, political, historic, economic and philosophic contexts which shape and, in turn are shaped by, science and technology. More specifically, the curriculum in Vassar’s STS Program is designed to enable students to understand the central role of science and technology in contemporary society; to examine how science and technology reflect their social, political, philosophical, economic, and cultural contexts; and to explore the human, ethical, and policy implications of current and emerging technologies. A senior thesis and senior colloquium are required. More

Urban Studies

The transformation of cities and their surrounding regions, urban history and geography, social problems of urban life, design of the built environment, and past and present programs of urban planning are among the major themes in this multidisciplinary program. In addition to coursework in a wide range of departments, students gain applied experience by engaging in community-engaged learning, taking courses in urban practice, completing an optional senior thesis or project, and doing community-engaged learning with a governmental agency, community group, or professional organization. The program also offers a correlate sequence. More

Women's Studies

Working with an advisor or advisors in the program, students plan a course of study tailored to their particular interests. Students take an introductory course, courses from at least three disciplines, at least one course in feminist theory, and other courses germane to their self-designed programs. A senior thesis or project is also required. Recent topics include "Global Feminisms" and "Feminist Approaches to Science and Technology." The program also offers a correlate sequence. More