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Equity and inclusion are core values of the Integrated Social Sciences major. Our mission is to provide equitable opportunity to students from diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds.  Since our students have often faced a variety of institutional and interpersonal barriers when entering the program, our higher education mission is guided by the following principles:

1. PROVIDE EQUITABLE ACCESS: We strive to open the university’s doors to a broad population of students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to pursue a high quality UW baccalaureate degree. Our goal is to dismantle the institutional and interpersonal barriers that have historically excluded certain segments of society from accessing and excelling in higher education, such as time constraints, family commitments, work and financial obligations, and the legacies of racist exclusion. We believe that our identities, experiences, and responsibilities are a source of strength and knowledge. The ISS program welcomes everybody in whatever way they are identified by race, ethnicity, class, citizenship, gender, age, religion, (dis)ability, and sexuality.

2. PROMOTE DISCOVERY AND EQUITABLE ADVANCEMENT: We build on pedagogical and technological innovations in an internet-enabled community that connects students with academic research and researchers. Knowing the barriers of time and location, we strive to innovate in the delivery of online courses to create rich, interactive learning environments that help our students build new skills and connect them to community interests.

3. INSPIRE HOLISTIC LEARNING:  We seek to promote cultural understanding and respect for differences, with attention to historical and contemporary power dynamics at the local, national, and global scale. Through an interdisciplinary program built across the breadth of the social sciences, our curriculum addresses the complexities of our globalized world and all the associated interdependencies and inequalities within and between societies around the world.

Self-reflective learning practice is integral to the ISS experience. We offer students opportunities to reflect on how their past experiences and expertise in the world at large shape their learning. We value ongoing critical thinking about equity, innovation, and interdisciplinarity. And we believe that by integrating student engagement, self-reflection and personalized learning in our 7 thematic areas we can better help integrate students’ real world concerns and interests with research and study in the social sciences. Learn more about the history of ISS on our Program History page.


“Our goal is to help you earn your UW BA in a way that gives you knowledge, skills, and intellectual habits that you can use for life in the world. We believe that integrating your studies with your experiences and expertise from the world beyond the university also enriches online learning itself. And in that same spirit, please keep in touch with any ideas for improving the program.”

Matt Sparke portrait

Professor Matt Sparke
Founding Director


A Note About Accreditation

The University of Washington is fully accredited for all its online and on-campus courses. The UW is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) and is a member of the Association of American Universities. Regional accreditation, the highest form of accreditation that a university or college can obtain, ensures that courses taken and degrees earned through the University of Washington will be accepted by other regionally accredited institutions recognized by Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA**) and the United States Department of Education (USDE).