• Participation in a learning community
  • Thematic interdisciplinary courses
  • Global perspectives
  • Field-based and experiential learning
  • Focus on the world of the future
  • Development of written and oral communication skills

Class Structure

Students come 4-5 Saturdays per semester to the Sonoma State campus for a full day of activities. The morning is devoted to a seminar with your cohort of up to 15 students, with whom you will study throughout the program, forming a close learning community. The bulk of the talking is done by students - they pose the questions, they frame the answers, and the instructor facilitates the process. The afternoon may include a lecture or workshop and a short concluding seminar to discuss the day's insights.

The Web-based computer seminars allow students to explore topics and readings in depth. Each week, students read the assigned materials and compose a one-page response that is then posted on the forum. Over the weekend, they log back in to read each other's postings and respond to at least one other person's comments. The instructor caps the week's discussion with a summarizing response. In this way, class members carry on a rich dialogue without having to coordinate busy schedules.

Field-based projects complete the curriculum, allowing students to connect the theories they have been discussing to everyday life.

Class Descriptions

Students take one 10-unit interdisciplinary course per semester. The courses are designed by at least two faculty members from different disciplines, and explore topics of current interest. The first three are thematic courses taught by faculty; the final 10 units of the major is a self-designed senior project. The core courses are designed to cover a variety of issues and angles on a common theme, moving from the personal to the global.

  • Identity and Society looks at the changing self, drawing from psychological and sociological theory, as well as from literature, art, and biology. It includes autobiographical writing which places the personal process of self-discovery in the context of the broader frame of reference provided by the course readings.
  • Work and the Global Future explores topics such as the global economy and its impact on societies around the world; the shift to a service- and information-based economy; the increasing distance between the haves and the have nots; and issues of race, class, and gender in the workforce.
  • Technology and the Environment concentrates on some of the major environmental issues facing us: nature's capacity for regeneration; the relationship between the human environment and the physical environment; sustainability; and economic and political aspects of environmental issues.
  • The Senior Project allows you to combine your individual interests and goals with one or more themes from the core courses. Projects may be personal, community-based, or career-oriented, and you may work with a mentor to develop and implement your plan. This experience culminates in a formal presentation to your classmates.

The Hutchins approach to learning allows students flexibility and freedom in their studies. Courses are designed to provide students an opportunity to walk around a subject or theme in order to view it from different angles. There is a concerted effort to include differing points of view and to include various modes of presenting the information (audio, visual, tactile, etc). The assignments are planned to allow maximum flexibility for students to pursue their own interests in fulfilling them.

General education and electives for completing the 120-unit requirement for graduation may be met in many ways, including directed studies and independent studies. The program advisor, Amy Unger, can help you explore these and other options.