"Interdisciplinary Pioneers" Emerge from BHA/BSA Programs
By Meg Siegel, Carnegie Mellon News, May 16, 2000
Patricia Maurides, director of the university's Bachelor of Humanities and Arts (BHA) and Bachelor of Sciences and Arts (BSA) programs housed in the College of Fine Arts, has a lot to say about the students for whom she serves as an academic coordinator and counselor.
"They are extremely bright, resourceful and inventive. I call them interdisciplinary pioneers because they pull together and blend disciplines to create unique undergraduate curricular experiences," said Maurides.
Maurides serves as the first director of the BHA and BSA programs. The position was newly created to provide an academic center for students that draw from the College of Fine Arts, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Mellon College of Science to create self-designed interdisciplinary degrees.
The highly-competitive programs, the newest of which is the year-old BSA offering, cater to academically and artistically talented students who mix and match concentrations to fit their diverse interests. Degree combinations among BHA and BSA students bring traditionally separate disciplines together, joining creative writing and drama, psychology and music, anthropology and art and social history and architecture.
BHA students agree that the strength of the program lies in its interdisciplinary focus. As editor of the BHA journal and creative writing and art major Frederick Zeleny explains, "The BHA program is not a course of study in two different fields; it immerses students in both of their concentrations equally and often requires them to take what they learn in one and apply it to the learning process of the other." Zeleny adds that this dynamic allows students to "develop their own unique perspective and methods for exploring their program."
BHA student Megan Franke, who has concentrated in professional writing and music and will go on to finish her Masters of Arts Management degree next year, said the interdisciplinary spirit of the program was what attracted her.
"I didn't want to limit myself by studying one subject. BHA allowed me to integrate my artistic side into a course of study that was meaningful to me."
Maurides, who also teaches two interdisciplinary courses in the School of Art called "The Art of Biology" and "The Biology of Art," added that BHA and BSA students are being primed for future professional environments where integrated disciplines and collaborations are prevalent. "I believe the experience greatly benefits students after college."
University efforts to enhance interdisciplinary pursuits will be extended further with plans for a Center for Arts in Society, a formal center of study dedicated to energizing research and teaching that links the College of Humanities and Social Sciences with the College of Fine Arts. The center will support undergraduate and graduate courses as well as research.