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IDM Students


Students who wish to pursue a major other than an existing disciplinary or interdisciplinary major may propose an Independently Designed Major (IDM). This option for a major requires considerable initiative and self-discipline from students who elect it. Students pursuing the Independently Designed Major must have the independence to work outside the support and curricular framework ordinarily provided by established departments and programs. The Independently Designed Major is fundamentally interdisciplinary. The course of study within this major must be supported and approved by two faculty sponsors from two different departments/programs. It permits students working with a Major Advisor and Associate Advisor from different departments/programs to design special interdisciplinary concentrations according to particular interests and needs.

Note: IDM applications involving English faculty supervision will have to be approved by the entire department before they are submitted to the Dean’s Advisory Committee for final approval.


Cherylyn Alderfer

IDM Title: Eco-Philosophy: Studies in the Ecological Self
Advisors: Marion Hourdequin, Marcia Dobson
Graduation Year: 2016


IDM Story  


Meredith Allen

IDM Title: Sustainability and Social Action
Advisors: Katherine Giuffre, Corina McKendry
Graduation Year: 2016


IDM Story  


Sarah Breyfogle 

IDM Title: Cognitive Film Studies
Advisors: Scott Kryzch, Tomi-Ann Roberts
Graduation Year: 2017


IDM Story  

Coming into college convinced I would major in Film and Media Studies and go on to direct and produce independent films, shifting to a more academically focused major was a process. From the beginning, psychology fascinated me, but I didn't see myself applying it down the road. Then, as racial tensions came to the forefront of the American consciousness, I started becoming passionate about issues of inequality, particularly since my disciplines of choice were dominated by straight white men and allowed few other perspectives to be heard. After doing a significant amount of reading, I managed to find a field where my three passions intersected; cognitive film studies. With the help of my advisers I developed a cohesive program that explored the effects of film and media on people's lives and minds, across all intersections of identity. If you would like to discuss my field of study or have questions about my process, please email me at sarah.breyfogle@coloradocollege.edu.


Aurelia Carrillo

IDM Title: Global and Cultural Inequality
Advisors: Naomi Wood, Sarah Hautzinger
Graduation Year: 2017


IDM Story  


 

 


Djake Carroll

IDM Title: The Mechanics of Storytelling
Advisors: Ryan Banagale, Dylan Nelson
Graduation Year: 2016


IDM Story  


 

 


Esther Chan

IDM Title: Visual Media and Social Change
Advisors: Katherine Giuffre, Esther Redmount
Graduation Year: 2016


IDM Story  

I fell in love with three very different classes my freshman year: Racial Inequality, Media and Politics, and Power of the Arts in Education. These classes opened my eyes to the media's perpetuation of stereotypes and systems of inequity, but it also showed me how the media can be used for good. How do we use the media to bring meaningful social change? I talked to my current advisor, Kathy, about my new epiphanies and with her guidance, I designed my own major.  I started out with a focus on photographic journalism but I've since found my way to documentary storytelling and multimedia projects that empower marginalized communities.


Jamie Daudon

IDM Title: Politics, Philosophy, and Economics
Advisors: Vibha Kapuria-Foreman, Eve Grace
Graduation Year: 2017


IDM Story  

I first became interested in a PPE major when an international student friend from the UK described the program, which was founded at Oxford and remains popular throughout England. After researching the major further I decided to pursue it here at CC, modeling my major after a few US schools, notably Pomona and UPenn, who offer PPE as a major. The most challenging part of my IDM has come during my senior year as I am attempt to combine the classes I have taken into a cohesive "major." Despite this challenge I have found it worthwhile to think between disciplines and pursue my own academic path. If you have any questions about my major or the process you're welcome to reach me on email: James.Daudon@ColoradoCollege.edu.


Benjamin Garinther

IDM Title: Environmental Philosophy
Advisors: Shane Heschel, Marion Hourdequin
Graduation Year: 2017


IDM Story  


Mitra Ghaffari 

IDM Title: Intercultural Communication: Storytelling in a Global Community
Advisors: Naomi Wood, Clay Haskell
Graduation Year: 2017


IDM Story  

My academic interests have been shaped by and focused on intercultural exchange. I studied abroad in Spain during my junior year of high school as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student. Last year, I spent a semester in Brazil with the CIEE Salvador da Bahia Liberal Arts program and plan to spend my senior year studying in Cuba. On the international scale of communication, it’s easy to translate words but not always as simple to translate meaning. Each piece of information is perceived through particular cultural lenses, and an understanding of each country’s historical and social codes creates stronger and more empathetic cross-cultural interactions. I am interested in the mediums of communication that not only spread information, but those with storylines and emotional engagement that bridge different cultural perspectives through common values and understanding. Visual forms of journalism fulfill the desire to see, experience and relate to what would ordinarily seem distant, transforming art into an unrestricted language. Through my IDM, I translate cultural anthropological theory and media studies into the practical explorations of nonfiction narrative, photojournalism and documentary filmmaking. Creating my own major has given me the opportunity and agency to explore storytelling through many forms of artistic expression, allowing me to pull from multiple departments and cultural immersion experiences. The time, thoughtfulness and dedication that go into creating an IDM ensure each block at CC to be purposeful and significant.


Scott Godde

IDM Title: Depth Psychology
Advisors: Marcia Dobson, John Riker
Graduation Year: 2017


IDM Story  


Tess Gruenberg

IDM Title: Technology and The Human
Advisors: Jonathan Lee, Matthew Whitehead
Graduation Year: 2017


IDM Story  


William Harlow

IDM Title: Structures of Subjectivity: A Modern Study of the Psyche
Advisors: John Riker, Marcia Dobson
Graduation Year: 2017


IDM Story  

While at Boston College, I discovered that I wanted to major in psychology; however, transferring here to CC threw a bit of a wrench into that plan, so I decided that I would pursue a psychology degree here! Unfortunately, in my research of the psychology department at CC, I discovered that there was a profound neuroscience influence on the way that CC approaches studies of psychology. In that moment of realization, I found myself entirely disillusioned from my desired course of study, that is, until I took Ethics with John Riker.

In the course, John described a independently designed major, which a few of his advisees had constructed, that sought to shift the focus of psychology from viewing human beings as objects to viewing them as subjects. I found the prospect of an individually designed and deliberately created major focusing on human subjectivity and individuality far more enticing than following the predetermined route of the CC psychology major.

My IDM is comprised of Philosophy, Psychoanalytic Studies, Comparative Literature, Feminist and Gender Studies, and Psychology courses with the intention of analyzing human experience through a wide lens of myriad human existences. For me, the amalgamation of courses from these departments provided a better method for attempting to better understand human interactions and behavior than the more objective worlds of neuroscience and modern psychology. With my experiences in these courses, I believe I know possess a better capacity to understand individuals and plan on employing my studies in everyday interactions and my future career.


John Jennings

IDM Title: Environmental Philosophy and Practice
Advisors: Marion Hourdequin, Howard Drossman
Graduation Year: 2017


IDM Story  

I was attracted to CC because of its attention sustainability across the campus and disciplines. I thought about majoring in Environmental Science, but knew I was more interested in issues of sustainability pertaining to other fields—environmental science was at the forefront of environmental issues, but what about other fields? How did they relate to the environment and sustainability? So I could pursue this line of questioning and better understand how the environment is regarded in both theory and practice, I created my own major where I took a select handful of philosophy classes and a myriad of environmentally focused classes in various departments.


Taka Kondo

IDM Title: Structures in Subjectivity and Gender Intersubjectivity
Advisors: Marcia Dobson, John Riker
Graduation Year: 2016


IDM Story  


Junior Larrea

IDM Title: Philosophical Investigations in Natural Language
Advisors: Rick Furtak, Christina Leza
Graduation Year: 2016


IDM Story  


Sumner Lawson 

IDM Title: Global Health and Education
Advisors: Kristin Stanec, Andrew Price-Smith
Graduation Year: 2018


IDM Story  

Before enrolling at Colorado College, I took a gap year and, amongst other things, worked for a nonprofit called Iqra Fund. Iqra Fund's mission was to support girls in rural areas of Pakistan in their journey to receive a quality education, whether that be through scholarships, teacher trainings or health education classes. I was inspired by the multi-faceted approach Iqra Fund used to help young girls and women achieve success, and was especially interested in the relationship between healthcare and education, and how they could benefit and build off of each other. This was the birth of my IDM, Global Health and Education. Combining biology, political science and education classes, this interdisciplinary major is designed to explore the intrinsic connection between access to quality healthcare and an individual's ability to receive an education.


Elizabeth Lund

IDM Title: Performance Design
Advisors: Marie Davis-Green, Barry Sarchett
Graduation Year: 2016


IDM Story  

Performance Design is a combination of theatre, art, and film courses with a focus on set and lighting design that together form a cohesive understanding of functional art and designing for staged areas.  Discovering performance at CC was an accident.  I signed up for Professor Marie Davis-Green's Fundamentals of Performance Design class at the very end of the freshman year because I wanted to try something new.  I had been fascinated by theatre my entire life but hated acting and my high school lacked opportunities to work on productions in high school without being an actor.  In taking Fundamentals, I realized how incredible designing for performance was and how much I wanted to create a way for me to continue with learning about performance design. I initially started out as a Performance Design minor, but quickly realized as I designed and ran student shows for Theater Workshop and through working with the Theatre and Dance Department, I was more dedicated to my minor than the major I had at the time.  I decided that the best option for me was the IDM program and constructed my major to include other forms of performance as well as theatre.


Mohammad Mia

IDM Title: Existential Activism
Advisors: John Riker, Sarah Hautzinger
Graduation Year: 2016


IDM Story  


Andrea More

IDM Title: Comedy: Creation and Context
Advisors: Idris Goodwin, Steven Hayward
Graduation Year: 2016


IDM Story  


J.D. Munn

IDM Title: Cognitive Science: The Intersection Between Philosophy, Artificial Intelligence, and Neuroscience
Advisors: Helen Daly, Matthew Whitehead
Graduation Year: 2017


IDM Story  


Katasha Nail DaSilva

IDM Title: Global Health and Human Psychology: Healing the Psyche
Advisors: Andrew Price-Smith, John Riker
Graduation Year: 2017


IDM Story  


Abigail Portman

IDM Title: Sustainable Food Systems and Social Policy
Advisors: Mario Montano, Corina McKendry
Graduation Year: 2016


IDM Story  

My major is a combination of Political Science, Anthropology, Economics, Environmental Science, Sociology, and History. When studying a topic like food, it is necessary to take an interdisciplinary approach. The major hopes to identify current issues within the food system, and the ways in which policy can be used to fix them. 


Will Sardinsky

IDM Title: Ecological Journalism and Media
Advisors: Barry Sarchett, Marc Snyder
Graduation Year: 2017


IDM Story  

I’ve always loved film and photography, but after taking a college bio class in high school I fell in love with biology too. I came to CC planning to study Organismal and Ecological Biology, but kept my mind open. I started to have a desire to share with others what was going on in the biological community, but in a way that they could understand and here I am today majoring in ecological journalism and media.


Margaret Sport

IDM Title: Bioethics
Advisors: Ralph Bertrand, Marion Hourdequin
Graduation Year: 2017


IDM Story  

My interest in bioethics began at a young age when my uncle was diagnosed with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. In my Catholic middle school, I recall grappling with the idea of embryonic stem cell research. This allowed me to find new research on human induced mesenchymal stem cells (hi-MSCs) and umbilical stem cells, more ethical sources of cells not taken from fetal and embryonic tissue. I became engrossed with the subject over time, learning of how these precious cells may hold the key to curing diseases from ALS to Parkinson’s to Macular Degeneration (and many more). This concern for the ethical experimentation soon led me to consider the ethics of medicine and science relating to religion, politics, socioeconomic status and various other factors. Bioethics grew from a single focus to a broad spectrum of issues and topics that interest me, fueled by personal experience: a cousin with a liver transplant, a father diagnosed with Parkinson’s before the age of 50, a grandmother in an experimental drug trial, etc.

I knew by the end of freshman year I wanted to continue with this subject. I had taken classes in both the philosophy and biology departments, but was not satisfied with limiting myself to either one and could not find a similar program that allowed me to immerse myself in each. What better way to combine my interest in both science and the humanities than by creating an independently designed major? This unique opportunity the Colorado College offers seemed too good to be true. My major encompasses the idea of a liberal arts education. It allows me to integrate the humanities with science in a cohesive and comprehensive manner. It will prepare me to further my studies in the field, which I plan on doing by attending graduate school in either law or medicine or both. The list of courses in my curriculum includes classes in a variety of disciplines that incorporate the use ethics employed in modern science and medicine. These, combined with independent studies and internships, give me a better understanding of the central role that bioethics plays in our society today and how I will be able to employ these principles in my future career."


Adam Sterry

IDM Title: Environmental Anthropology: Analysis of Human Interaction with the Natural World
Advisors: Miroslav Kummel, Krista Fish
Graduation Year: 2016


IDM Story  

I was inspired to design a major combining environmental science and anthropology in order to pursue my passion for understanding the relationship between humans and the environment. Although insight into this relationship can be gained through either department, I felt most strongly drawn to the interplay between the two departments. I find the explicit and intentional combination of the two fields to be significantly more meaningful to me than either field studied separately; for me the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I hope to come away from this Independently Designed Major with a set of skills that is extremely applicable to a wide variety of challenges regarding environmental degradation or restoration, the human tendencies that influence ecological management decisions, and efforts to address climate change on varying scales across the globe. In many ways the process of designing this major has already led me to synthesize the material I have covered in my Colorado College education thus far in ways that I would not have considered prior to the design process. It has lead me to experience an internship in agricultural sustainability from a more holistic perspective, and given me a more diverse course history to drawn on when confronting challenges; I followed up on this experience by attending and networking at the World Agri-Tech Investment Summit in early November 2015. I am also currently working towards a thesis proposal to travel to Panama where I will study the effects of climate change on coastal ecosystems and neighboring human populations. Designing my own major was one of the most challenging, and perhaps the most rewarding experience I have had at Colorado College. It is taking me places I never expected and I could not be more grateful or excited for what lies ahead.


Sarah Tafoya

IDM Title: Structures in Subjectivity
Advisors: John Riker, Marcia Dobson
Graduation Year: 2016


IDM Story  


Rebecca Twinney

IDM Title: Wildlife Behavior, Conservation, and Ecology
Advisors: Krista Fish, Marc Snyder
Graduation Year: 2017


IDM Story  

I started out my college career as an English major. I loved writing everything from historical fiction to research proposals, and I began to explore my options early on. By block three of sophomore year, I had taken enough anthropology and biology courses to be utterly confused about my interests. I was fascinated by ecology and biological anthropology, but I lacked the same passion for molecular biology or ethnography. I wanted to delve into conservation and human-wildlife interactions without sacrificing valuable blocks to courses that didn’t coincide with these interests. Skimming through the departmental major requirements for what felt like the hundredth time, I stumbled over a solution. I had never considered designing an independent major, and I realized that it provided the singular opportunity to compile specific aspects of the biology and anthropology majors. Focusing on the ecological and human aspects of wildlife conservation, I was even able to incorporate relevant courses from the environmental science department. Additionally, although not included in the IDM, my English minor complemented the new major, offering necessary preparation for writing grants, proposals, and scientific articles. While the process of writing and applying for the IDM was hard work, it was so worth it. In addition to the range of courses and opportunities the IDM opened up, it also prepared me for the interdisciplinary nature of my study abroad program. While studying in Tanzania this past semester, I was able to assess the environmental health of savannah ecosystems, as well as interview individuals about their relationships with native wildlife. This extraordinary experience, in addition to my IDM overall, caters to the full range of my passions, allowing me to make the most of my time here at Colorado College.   


Hana Wasserman 

IDM Title: Bioinformatics
Advisors: David Brown, Darrell Killian
Graduation Year: 2016


IDM Story  

I proposed an IDM in bioinformatics my sophomore year at Colorado College to combine my passion for computer science, mathematics, and genomics. Bioinformatics captures the incredible potential at the intersection of these three fields. From the human genome project of the early 2000's, to current basepair mapping of chromosome folding, bioinformatics has revolutionized biotechnology and will continue to be the future of genomics, epigenomics, and proteomics. 

Coming to Colorado College, I did not know what I planned to study. I wanted my CC education to challenge me and give me applicable skills that would contribute to the biomedical world. CC's IDM option and my enthusiastic academic advisors helped me achieve the CC experience I wanted. I am excited for my career and continued education in bioinformatics and hope that future CC students will pursue bioinformatics as well.


Josh Winkler

IDM Title: Environmental Philosophy: Interpreting the Anthropocene
Advisors: Marion Hourdequin, Bruce Coriell
Graduation Year: 2016


IDM Story  

When I first came to CC I knew that I had a wide range of interests, and that I had no idea what I actually wanted to major in.  Over the course of my first few years at CC I took classes that interested me, and as time passed I began to recognize patterns within my studies.  I began to see overlap within my environmental science, anthropology, philosophy, religion, and political science classes.  I realized that there was an academic niche that was both intellectually stimulating and robust in its character.  At first I thought I could follow my interests in one major, environmental science or anthropology, but I soon realized that in order to study what I was increasingly beginning to feel passionate about, I had to step back and create my own cohesive major.   

My major is Environmental Philosophy: Interpreting the Anthropocene.  The major aims to provide a means for studying climate change and the environment through a social, political, and philosophical lens.  Grounded in geology, ecology, and climate studies, the major is inherently interdisciplinary, in that it has provided me with a scientific background to understand what is happening physically to our earth, so that I can take my studies a step further and ask: why are these changes occurring?  What is it about our current sociopolitical condition that is holding us back from instigating change?