Learning Objectives and Design

The online Integrated Social Sciences major was carefully designed as the innovative brainchild of both technology and interdisciplinary scholarship in the social sciences. It is built around two types of courses – thematic areas courses and core courses. The thematic areas courses enable students to explore important areas of inquiry across the full breadth of the social sciences, frequently re-encountering significant themes from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The ISS core courses provide all students with a common intellectual foundation, help build active learning communities, and emphasize integration of learning experiences.

Our program fosters intentional learning, analytical thinking, communication, cultural competence, and global citizenship. By degree completion, we expect all students to be able to:

  1. Explain social scientific research in terms of questions, theories, methods and findings
  2. Construct, debate, and communicate arguments about social phenomena
  3. Evaluate, integrate and critique information
  4. Collaborate with diverse communities
  5. Demonstrate inter-cultural communication and social media competency

Finally, ISS majors learn how to reflect thoughtfully on their learning and how to articulate what they have learned (and how they learned it and why it’s important) to others. They accomplish these important goals by developing an ongoing learning plan and by creating a learning portfolio that is transformed into a polished showcase of learning in the capstone course (ISS 401).

Learn more about portfolios!

Why are these exit outcomes important or valuable?

First, graduates of ISS are expected to deploy theoretical and methodological knowledge in order to analyze and understand human culture, its historical contexts, and related social issues and problems. They learn about the complexity of social relations, social research, and social justice in ways that are faithful to the enduring love of knowledge, theory, debate, and critical thinking that animates all social science. This intellectual framework prepares students for lives of global citizenship.

Second, the practice of integration in the program makes it more intellectually rigorous, fostering self-reflective, life-long learning. Finally, the program’s exit outcomes associated with technological literacy prepare students to be effective in the internet-enabled information age. All of these outcomes are associated not only with intellectual and social competence, but also with professional success across a variety of careers.

A Bit About Online Courses at UW

Students in UW online degree programs are true Huskies! There is no difference between a degree earned online and one earned on campus. Your degree is awarded based on your successful completion of academic requirements, not on your geographic location. As a graduate, you will hold a degree from the University of Washington and you will have all the rights and privileges of traditional UW alumni.

Online courses are held to the same rigorous standards of academic excellence as our on-campus courses. They are developed and taught by the same UW faculty who teach in the traditional on-campus programs, who have international reputations for innovative research and teaching methods. In general, online courses can actually be more challenging than traditional courses because students must be exceptionally motivated and disciplined in order to keep up with assignments, manage time, and maintain effective communication with instructors and classmates.

In particular, the Integrated Social Sciences program requires students to engage in an active and reflective practice of learning through ongoing development of an academic plan and e-portfolio that culminates in a capstone experience. The integrative ISS courses that form the “core” of the major ensure that students become intentional learners and committed practitioners in an interdisciplinary learning community. Intellectual integration is a defining characteristic of ISS and sets it apart not only from other online social sciences degrees, but also from traditional on-campus majors in the social sciences.