The Interdisciplinary Science Program aims to democratize science using a planetary health framework, addressing health, environment, and equity. The curriculum emphasizes the importance of scientific and quantitative thinking in addressing contemporary challenges that include access to clean water, climate change, biodiversity, responsible use of emerging technologies, and policies shaped by mathematical models of social phenomena. Our course, co-curricular experiences, public programming, and pedagogies make strong connections between science and social justice. For more on the role of social justice as it relates to STEM learning, see this this blog post by Joe Graves published in 2016 and this list of Minority Science Organizations.
For more information about our curriculum visit the Lang website. For those interested in majoring or minoring in Interdisciplinary Science explore the sections below.
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MAJORS and MINORS : The Natural Sciences and Mathematics department offers a BA degree in Interdisciplinary Science as well as a Minor in Interdisciplinary Science. The Interdisciplinary Science Major prepares students for science-based careers that depend on strong scientific and quantitative reasoning and an understanding how natural sciences and mathematics relate to social sciences, humanities, and art. The curriculum achieves this interdisciplinary understanding by explicitly connecting science and mathematics to issues of social interest such as health disparity, resource management, urbanization, global development, and responsible health and environmental communication and education. Students also have access to a unique set of University Minors that cater to interests in technology, design, data visualization, journalism + design, anthropology, and communication.
PEDAGOGIES: We use innovative student-centered pedagogies and connections to the arts and social sciences to make science and math relevant, tangible, and meaningful to students from all backgrounds who are interested in promoting social reflection and social change. Students learn basic concepts, principles and methods, and then apply this knowledge to develop effective and appropriate scientific, health, and environmental practices and policies. The curriculum merges theory and practice with sequenced courses providing depth and breadth, and experiential experiences such as internships that address real world problems. Classroom learning is student centered, seminar-based, and integrative. Courses are rigorous, emphasizing deep understanding of key scientific concepts and methodologies as well as applications of these concepts so that students are able to appreciate the importance of a scientific approach in investigating problems. Introductory courses impart scientific and mathematical principles, theory, and methodology, and provide opportunities to develop problem-solving and laboratory skills. Intermediate and advanced level courses build on foundational knowledge and emphasize application of scientific and mathematical principles. In all courses, students are encouraged to move away from passive learning and memorization and toward fundamental understanding and applications of scientific and mathematical principles.
EXTRACURRICULAR LEARNING :Students can build on their coursework by participating in campus programs such as the Science and Math Fellows, Peer Health Advocates Program, the Tishman Alaska Environmental Scholars Summer Program, and The Civic Engagement and Social Justice Summer Fellows Program, as well as various student organizations. Those interested in the global aspects of health and the environment can participate in study abroad programs such as the The Organization of Tropical Studies, ICADDS, and S.E.A. Semester. Students may also apply for funds to support these activities through the Lang Opportunities Awards Program. We also provide students with close mentoring and support through the Mohn Family Science and Social Justice Fellows Program, which can cover living expenses for students who have secured internships or research positions in non-profits, government agencies, or other public serving organizations in the area of health and the environment.
POST GRADUATE OPTIONS: Graduates from the Interdisciplinary Science degree program are prepared to conduct research in areas spanning health and environmental policy, advocacy, management, public health, and education. Students are also prepared to enter interdisciplinary graduate programs in science communication, public health/epidemiology, health and medical geography, environmental policy, medical anthropology, journalism, history and philosophy of science, health and environmental economics, design, science education, science communication, or professional graduate programs such as law, genetic counseling, and business. Most graduates have chosen career paths and graduate programs that rely on strong scientific and quantitative understanding; a list of alumni biographies are available on this website. The strong liberal arts emphasis at Lang ensures that students can undertake any career path for which a liberal arts degree provides a solid foundation. Students will also be poised to work for institutes focused on policy-making and ethics, conduct research, or work for NGOS/NPOs interested in promoting healthy people and environments. See the Global Health Corps Fellows Program, the CDC Public Health Associates Program , Genetics Counseling Resources, and other programs on our resource pages. Note that taking on a job in public service, can also offset your student loans via a loan forgiveness program.
GRADUATE LEVEL COURSES AT THE NEW SCHOOL. Students who are in the junior and senior year may complement their undergraduate study with graduate courses focused on health, culture, and gender offered by the NSSR Psychology and Anthropology Departments. Those interested in environmental sustainability, advocacy and policy may complete graduate courses in the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy, and the Parsons programs in Communication Design, Environmental Policy and Sustainability, Transdisciplinary Design, and Design & Technology. Those interested in communication, can consider the combined Masters program in Creative Publishing and Critical Journalism.
PROFESSIONAL HEALTH SCIENCES or GRADUATE PROGRAMS IN THE NATURAL SCIENCES: Though students can pursue careers in medicine and nursing, which primarily address individuals managing illness or disability, our Lang curriculum uses a social justice lens geared towards global environmental change and its relationship to global and public health and thus, our courses are not traditional; we do not offer Bio101, Chem101, nor a specific disciplinary major such as biology or chemistry. To pursue training for professional careers such as medicine, nursing, or genetic counseling, students must complete traditional courses in the natural sciences and math at other institutions. Similarly, students who intend to pursue graduate training for the Ph.D. in the natural sciences, also must complete some standard prerequisites. This can be accomplished by completing 1) post-bac programs (see Laura Weber alumni biography); 2) premed requirements through Mount Sinai’s early admission into medical school program designed for sophomores in the humanities- though this program requires two full years of chemistry and biology to apply; 3) summer courses to round out their curriculum at Lang; 4) courses through the Lang-Cooper Union agreement (see Gordon Burke alumni biography), or the Sarah Lawrence exchange program- note that the Cooper Union program is one designed for engineering students and does not have a full roster of biology courses with traditional lab and requires students to have prerequisites in Calculus (their Course Schedule can be accessed here); or 5) non-traditional paths involving completing coursework after the BA, tuition-free while one works as a research assistant at a university (see Lianna Schwartz-Orbach, Marissa Shipman, Jennifer Brustein alumni biographies). For more information regarding how to prepare for professional graduate programs in the health sciences we recommend viewing the Student Resources Post Bac Link.