Specialization Overview

Specialization Overview

"Integrated Sciences [Specialization] is an alternative to a traditional Major or Honours program for students whose interests cross disciplinary boundaries within the Sciences. The specialization gives [undergraduate] students the opportunity, and the guidance, to design their own curriculum.

Students in Integrated Sciences design their own upper-division curriculum, which must bridge at least two disciplines within science or beyond. These custom curricula must include Integrated Sciences 'core' courses (ISCI courses) that are explicitly interdisciplinary. When applying for admission to the Integrated Sciences Specialization … students must accomplish several things. They must demonstrate in essays and during conversations with their IntSci mentor that they are developing a vision of their own education that encompasses more than one discipline, and that it is more valuable for them to explore those fields as a set rather than independently. They design [an] interdisciplinary curriculum that embodies that vision and satisfies University and Faculty requirements for graduation, as well as additional requirements. For example, students must take fourth-year courses in more than one discipline. Students graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Integrated Sciences if they complete the curriculum they propose. This flexibility and the mentoring that accompanies it are very valuable. IntSci encourages students to review their programs periodically.

The Integrated Sciences 'core' courses (ISCI courses) are highly interactive and generally stress active learning, group discussion and collaborative research. They are interdisciplinary and are often taught by a team of faculty from different disciplines. When co-teaching, instructors actively discuss each other's content in the classroom, much as they would do in a research environment. This converts the classroom into a microcosm of the scientific enterprise in general. Of course, engagement of professors from different disciplines also means engagement of disciplines. This significantly broadens students' scientific horizons. In addition to the content-related objectives that distinguish different courses, core courses aim strongly to develop transferable skills and attitudes to support the students' other studies.”

The above text is an edited excerpt from: Benbasat, J. A. and Gass, C. L. 2002. Reflections on integration, interaction, and community: the Science One program and beyond. Conservation Ecology 5(2): 26. The full article is a good source of further information about the educational goals and value of Integrated Sciences, and other interdisciplinary programs.


Integrated Sciences is a 2003 winner of the Alfred Scow Award, which is awarded by the UBC Campus Advisory Board on student development (CABSD) for exceptional contributions and significant improvements to student experience and learning.