Page Settings

  • Show menu: true
  • Use horizontal menu: true
  • Show sidebar: no
  • Skip to main content

    How to Craft a Proposal

    The heart of the IDM application is the rationale, and the best way to assure your acceptance into the IDM is to craft a strong rationale. This page will go over the basics of what elements are needed for a strong rationale, highlighted with examples from a sample. Fundamentally, a rationale should be rooted in the criteria by which it is evaluated (purpose, necessity, interest), which can be found on our How to Apply web page. As such, your rationale should include clearly articulated statements of purpose, necessity, and interest. They need not be divided into individual sections with those headers, but for the sake clarity this page will be broken down into sections accordingly. Like any other work you submit at CC, your rationale should include proper in-text citation with an accompanying bibliography.

    The complete sample proposal from which the following excerpts came can be found here.

    Statement of Purpose

    The rationale must demonstrate a strong sense of purpose. The rationale must articulate a clearly defined field of study, identify its major characteristics, and place the field into a wider intellectual context. Ideally, the rationale will also draw connections between the proposed major and an established or emerging field of research and/or majors offered at colleges or universities outside CC. Things you should include in this section are:

    • What specifically is the topic you wish to base your major around? 
    • What kinds of questions are currently being studied in this field?
    • What current departments or majors at CC might be able to provide you with coursework to help you achieve your goal of studying this?

    The following is a sample taken from a past IDM application which strongly demonstrates the above criteria:

    Public health science encompass theories and applications from public health, community health education, and human biology, seeking to translate and communicate knowledge of the human body, disease pathology, mental health awareness, and health resources to diverse communities, ranging from children to elderly, from the socioeconomically-disadvantaged to individuals with developmental disabilities. These health topics extend beyond discussions of sexual health education, first aid, and disaster prevention, which are most commonly employed in traditional school settings. This domain seeks to redefine how to communicate integral topics of health to communities amid social, economic, linguistic, and/or physical barriers (Bandyopadhyay et al., 2017; FEMA, 2013). In communities, factors that can perturb typical development and wellness include socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, disability, family dynamics, access to food and water, and proper housing (Bornstein et al., 2015). Public health science considers a solid foundation in human anatomy, physiology, and a thorough understanding of intersectional barriers in education and communities to increase health literacy.

    Current school-based instruction on health literacy is limited to lecture on sexual health or disaster intervention, which yield poor memory retention given its ineffective format (Bandyopadhyay, Manjula, Paul, & Dasgupta, 2017; FEMA, 2013). Of these topics, content may not be holistic or unbiased. Of the 30 states that contain legislature regarding school-based sexual health education, nearly 70% explicitly promote or endorse abstinence. This leads to higher rates of teen pregnancy, unregulated abortions, and risky behavior that afflict one’s quality of life. These negative outcomes carry greater impact among marginalized groups (Stanger-Hall & Hall, 2011). Despite recent changes in legislation to promote comprehensive sexual health education among select states including Colorado (Colorado Department of Education, 2020), the present instruction that children and adults of varying identities receive in traditional settings is solely limited to this sexual health and first aid, which is not encompassing of all factors that constitute the general well-being of communities (Bornstein, Leventhal, & Lerner, 2015).

    This independently-designed major is primarily modeled off of parallel majors at the following colleges: Alma College (integrative physiology), Drexel University (public health), Minnesota State University Mankato (community health education), Ohio State University (health and wellness innovation in healthcare), San Francisco State University (health education), Taylor University (human physiology and preventative medicine), University of Colorado Boulder (integrative physiology), University of Colorado Denver (public health), University of Iowa (health and human physiology), University of Georgia (health promotion), University of Maryland (public health science), University of Wisconsin Superior (community health promotion), and Ursinus College (health and exercise physiology). At Colorado College, this field of study will have roots primarily in human biology and education, though complementary subfields include chemistry, molecular biology, psychology, and sociology. I hope to take core HBK coursework to gain a comprehensive understanding of physiological processes, anatomy, and pathology that affect humans. Given this thorough, instruction, this knowledge can be translated into digestible formats for a myriad of audiences and communities. However, this core content will be informed by educational and sociological principles; coursework in these domains will equip me with an intersectional lens that is crucial for executing health education and promotion among diverse communities.

    This sample clearly articulates (1) what the proposed field of study is, (2) a general understanding of current research in that field, and (3) examples of programs offered by other colleges and universities that cover this field. An ideal rationale should include all of the above, demonstrating that the applying student understands the full context of their intended major.

    Statement of Interest

    The rationale must demonstrate the major is driven by the student’s individual goals and ideas. This typically includes articulating a distinct set of questions framing the proposed field of study. Proposed majors must not be extrapolated from current or former IDM projects. The IDM is a very project-oriented major. This means that as you write your application and rationale you should have your senior thesis in mind. This does not mean that you need to have a fully fleshed-out thesis proposal, but perhaps some thoughts or ideas on potential projects. This section of the rationale may answer questions such as:

    • Why do I want to study this?
    • How do I relate to this field?
    • What are some general topics which interest me in this field? If possible, propose potential thesis topics.

    The following is a sample taken from a past IDM application which strongly demonstrates the above criteria:

    Current nationwide initiatives in this field over the past 20 years include promotion and motivation theory, STI prevention, safe sex practices, illicit drug use, alcohol dependency, social and emotional learning, exercise promotion, and healthcare access (Minnesota State University Mankato, 2019). As one can see, these thesis topics require a rich understanding of human anatomy and physiological processes, as well as an individualized knowledge of the communities that educators are trying to reach out to. I have delved into similar work both in the past and currently, as I wed principles from human anatomy/physiology and individualized education. For my high school thesis in biomedical science, I created an educational board game to teach the respiratory system to elementary-aged children which demonstrated efficacy in increasing students’ knowledge of such system and processes. Another thesis project concerned individualizing instruction of science and literacy to better students’ academic performance and self-attributive thoughts in the classroom. Apart from such academic projects, I am involved in several committees at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment whose work applies the knowledge that this independently-designed major would grant me. I am a member of the Comprehensive Sexual Health Education Oversight Entity, which seeks to put comprehensive sexual health education in rural and/or underserved school districts, with an intersectional lens, in accordance with the recent 2019 Colorado house bill 1032. During the next academic year, I will be interning with the Community Health Partnership to promote robust health literacy via making health education and policy more accessible to marginalized communities in Colorado Springs. This previous and current work requires holistic knowledge of human biology, individualized education practices, and intersectional studies, which this would provide.

    The validity of this field will be demonstrated by applying its principles to a potential thesis idea. Despite the plethora of aforementioned theses (Minnesota State University Mankato, 2019), a novel idea suggests growth and relevance of this field. Differentiated instruction incorporates student abilities, learning styles, and personal characteristics to tailor education to best meet one’s needs (Watts-Taffe, Laster, Broach, Marinak, McDonald-Connor, & Walker-Dalhouse, 2012). Emerging studies suggest efficacy of board games and related nontraditional formats on improving health literacy in young adults (Sardone & Devlin-Scherer, 2016). These ideas, in conjunction with improving sex ed standards in Colorado (Colorado Department of Education, 2020) can be applied to an interactive computer software that teaches basic anatomy and comprehensive sexual health, specifically accommodated for marginalized LGBTQ+ individuals via relatable scenarios, personalized instruction (e.g. including names and pronouns) and links to other helpful LGBTQ+ services. The efficacy of this idea could be measured via quantitative and qualitative analyses of knowledge retention and engagement/interest among consenting participants at the InsideOUT Youth Services in Colorado Springs. Evidently, this thesis requires knowledge of human biology, individualized education practices, and intersectional studies, which this major would provide.

    Statement of Necessity

    The rationale must also demonstrate that your major is distinct as an independent major. This includes a clear articulation of how the major (typically, through the thesis) will integrate two or more disciplines at CC. The proposed major also must be able to be reasonably accomplished within 15 units of study. Finally, the application must provide a preponderance of evidence that the goals articulated through the major cannot be accomplished through a combination of existing majors and minors at CC. Questions that you might address in this section include:

    • Why can't this topic be studied in a traditional major? That is, why must this be an IDM?
    • Specifically, what fields does this IDM integrate, and where are they available on campus?

    The following is a sample taken from a past IDM application which strongly demonstrates the above criteria:

    Public health science is a valid and prevalent field of study across many U.S. universities, evidenced by a plethora of related thesis topics (Minnesota State University Mankato, 2019), a plausible thesis topic discussed above, and over 150 colleges across the United States offering degrees parallel or identical to this independently-designed major, all accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH, 2020). This cohesive field of study goes beyond the current majors at Colorado College in many ways. Psychology can teach theories of motivation and learning, but emphasizes psychological research instead of human health. OBE can teach human anatomy, physiology, and cellular processes, but emphasizes a wide breadth of species and biological lab research, which does not align with the community education focus. Sociology is viable given its emphasis of intersectionality and power structures in human interactions, but does not emphasize human health. Lastly, education holistically teaches inequities, applications, and curricula design in a pedagogical context, but does not emphasize human health.

    At Colorado College, this field of study will have roots primarily in human biology and education, though complementary subfields include chemistry, molecular biology, psychology, and sociology. I hope to take core HBK coursework to gain a comprehensive understanding of physiological processes, anatomy, and pathology that affect humans. Given this thorough instruction, this knowledge can be translated into digestible formats for a myriad of audiences and communities. However, this core content will be informed by educational and sociological principles; coursework in these domains will equip me with an intersectional lens that is crucial for executing health education and promotion among diverse communities.