Ted. Seattle Japanese Garden. November 4, 2011. Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Seattle_Japanese_garden_2011_17.jpg#file.

A quarterly newsletter for ISS students, alumni, faculty, and staff

                        Vol.2, Issue 1                    Autumn Quarter 2018

ISS Welcomes Students "Back to School"

Amid Seattle’s graceful autumnal display in late September, Integrated Social Sciences welcomed new and returning cohorts of students back to school, including students who have been away for quite a long time.

One aspect of our ISS student population that enhances the jubilee of autumnal beginnings is the number of students who return to academia after many years or decades, rich with experience and perspective.  The range of motivations and challenges experienced by mature students in the ISS degree completion program are deeply compelling.

Denise Ireland, who entered ISS in Autumn 2015 at 61, says she began “full of apprehension about my ability to balance a full adult life with my academic aspirations.” Challenges included working with considerably younger professors, tamping feelings of intimidation, and developing healthy mindsets to approach her anxieties. In the end, “the ISS program was a transformative experience that gave me confidence in my knowledge, an informed voice, an intersectional perspective, and a foundational set of skills I apply to my world daily,” says Ireland.

Vicky Price, a member of the Autumn 2018 ISS cohort, returned with enthusiasm and focus. “After a multi-decade break from school, I'm thrilled to resume my studies at the University of Washington,” says Price.  “As I enter the second half of my life I want to channel my passion for activism into useful and effective strategies to create change. I chose the ISS program because the Social Science disciplines ask questions and encourage perspectives that spark innovative solutions.”

These nuanced explanations reinforce the implicit goals of the program to provide equitable access, promote discovery, and inspire holistic learning.

Did You Know?
Joe Hannah, ISS Adviser

In this issue’s “Did you know?” section, we look at ISS student data to shine light on how age factors into the program’s demographics. “Age” is an important piece of the picture of how ISS provides access to a high quality education to folks who would have a hard time attending an on-campus program.


As can be seen in this bar graph, data on our students ages shows us that the bulk of our students are in their 20s and 30s, with but a very few younger students. Our “mature students,” in their 40s and older, also make up a significant portion (23%) of all ISSers.

This “box and whisker” graph shows a little more detail: it emphasizes that the bulk of our incoming students are in their late 20s through their 30s. Very few student join ISS in their early 20s or younger, but a long upper whisker showing we have a lot of students joining ISS at older ages, many after multiple decades of being away. (See the blue box.). Our graduates (orange box) show a very similar distribution of ages, only slightly older (since they have spent a few years in the program).

The range of ages in our program means that students are in many different life circumstances and bring a diversity of experiences to their work in the program. Similarly, the life circumstances and the career goals of our students vary greatly – from those who are starting their career, to career changers, to those looking toward new opportunities at retirement. This diversity in age not only reflects the ISS mission of providing access, but also demonstrates the richness of the learning community in our program!

Portfolio Voices
Eileen O'Grady, recent "Back to Schooler"

I re-entered the University of Washington in 2017, 36 years after I withdrew to focus my efforts on a profession in finance.  Now I want to “rage against retirement;” to determine how to redefine the word retirement on my own terms. The interdisciplinary focus of the ISS program has yielded apt tools for this process.

The bibliography exercises called for in the portfolio classes ISS 350 and ISS 355 facilitate my pulling everything together, giving me a frame of reference for how I am maturing in ISS.  As I reviewed all of my readings and writings from my courses to date, it was exciting to intellectually connect, from ISS 301, Haraway’s “Chthulucenes” and “Anthropocenes” to my JSIS 331’s study of “Development and Sustainability.” In that course we analyzed Naomi Klein’s valiant efforts to snuff neoliberalism and control global warming in one fell swoop with her “Marshall Plan for the Earth.” And I could imagine my favorite social theorist, Bruno Latour, from the ISS Societies and Environment 301 Thematic, eviscerating Milton Friedman’s free market theory as presented in JSIS 331.

These intellectual overlaps have endowed me with an ability to now sense how imbalanced society is after decades of conformity to the hegemony-- I just had to work this word into my comments!-- of neoliberalism, corporatism and “extractive capitalism.” Now, after some painstaking work, the ISS and Interdisciplinary context is clear and resonates with that advanced by Manuel Castells’ ICT Network Society, which I studied about in ISS 301.

As I round the turn towards graduation, I do so having learned that social theories that aim to explain human behavior have the capacity to generate important social action. In the words of Emma Goldman, “revolution is but thought carried into action.” The interdisciplinary approaches have shaped an intellectual matrix that will guide my future studies, activities, relationships and insights. I shall rage on.

ISS Bulletin Board: News, Events, and Announcements
Our community of students, alumni, faculty and staff are up to great things! If you have an update you'd like to share, please email us!
  • Charles Wilform, an Autumn 2016 grad, received his MBA from Louisiana State University - Shreveport. Congratulations, Charles!
  • Eileen O'Grady and Alexandra van Belle began their student representative service on the ISS Diversity Committee. Thank you!
  • Isabelle Fraser, Michelle Schoonover, and Darla Varrenti were selected to serve on the UW Libraries' Professional and Continuing Education Student Advisory Board for the 2018-2019 school year. Thank you!
  • Reed Garber-Pearson, ISS Librarian, was elected to serve as President of the Association of College & Research Libraries Washington Chapter for a 2018-2021 term. 
  • ISS Assistant Director of Academic Services and Adviser Joe Hannah invited to participate in iPASS, an opportunity to influence the development of training resources for UW advisers across the campus.