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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Robert Joseph Turner
BIS 300
Bothell Campus

Interdisciplinary Inquiry

Introduction to advanced work in interdisciplinary studies centered on broadly based questions and problems. Stresses the skills necessary to engage in upper-division research and learning in the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Program.

Class description

Interdisciplinary Inquiry is a 5 credit seminar-style course where student contribution in the classroom is the primary goal and lectures are essentially nonexistent. The learning objectives and activities of the course are facilitated by the professor in collaboration with the academic staff of the Library, Writing Center, and Quantitative Skills Center.

The purpose of BIS 300 is to introduce and orient students to upper-division work in the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences program (IAS). This includes an introduction to the use of a portfolio, a personal academic history book students will build by inserting and assessing key work throughout their IAS career.

BIS 300 will teach you how to pose questions, conduct research to find answers to those questions, realize that those answers only produce more questions, then pursue those questions as well.(1) The course content is less important than the studentís understanding of and engagement with this complex process of producing knowledge, both individually and socially.(2)

As we produce knowledge through the guided reading of challenging texts, spirited and thoughtful discussion of complex intellectual concepts, and careful writing, each student will develop a foundation of ideas and skills for success as an IAS major, and more importantly, as a lifelong learner.(3)

What sets this version of BIS 300 apart from other sections is the focus of our knowledge production. The course will have a sustainability research orientation.

We will acquire a good working knowledge of sustainability research via assigned readings (and a few films), independent online research, lots of in class discussion, and by designing and conducting interviews and surveys.

After we establish a base of understanding on sustainability issues, students will work in groups to investigate more specific questions of interest. As you will find, the practice of framing the questions, finding the answers, and generating a proposal are interdisciplinary tasks that will set you on the track for success in IAS and beyond.

1 Swiped with permission from Burgett, B (2004). BIS 300 Interdisciplinary Inquiry syllabus. Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Program, University of Washington Bothell.

2 Swiped with permission from Krabill, R (2006). BIS 300 Interdisciplinary Inquiry syllabus. Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Program, University of Washington Bothell.

3 Swiped with permission from Goldstein, D (2006). BIS 300 Interdisciplinary Inquiry syllabus. Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Program, University of Washington Bothell.

Student learning goals

Understand and become excited about the interdisciplinary production of knowledge and the ways it underwrites different aspects of the IAS program.

Gain a critical understanding of the IAS program's diverse and inter-related (inter)disciplinary fields and methods of inquiry.

Become better readers, with enhanced skills in reading and interpreting not only text but also data.

Become better critical thinkers and writers, capable of posing and addressin a variety of complex quesions, and writing in a variety of modes. As part of this process, become more skilled at critical self-reflection on their own work.

Become better researchers, able to use resources at UWB and elsewhere in order to identify existing and complementary scholarly work while producing original knowledge through data gathering and interpretation.

Learn to work collaboratively, as both learners and teachers.

General method of instruction

Seminar-style course featuring directed readings, group brainstorming, independent and collaborative research, class room discussions.

Recommended preparation

Junior level standing and a desire to take charge of your learning.

Class assignments and grading

Assigned readings, classroom participation, leading discussions, reflective and critical essays, portfolio contributions and critiques, reports, report presentations.

17% for participation and presentations. The rest of the grade comes from an evaluation of your performance on various writing assignments. No exams! See the syllabus for further details.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
BIS 300B homepage
Last Update by Robert Joseph Turner
Date: 10/27/2010