Why USAO’s IDS Courses Are Different


Katie Fikes

Why do I have to take this course?

How is the course relevant to my major?

This class is just a waste of time.

Throughout your career at USAO, there will be courses you will have to take in which you feel are a waste of time because they have nothing to do with your major.  These courses generally turn out to be USAO’s uniquely manufactured Interdisciplinary Studies Core Curriculum, or IDS courses.

The IDS courses are not the typical basics required by most colleges.  They are engineered in a way that will help any student in whatever they do in the “real world.”

IDS courses are split up into two types of courses.  The skills courses are taken first followed by the idea courses.  Skill courses are the essentials such as writing, public speaking, and computer science.

The idea classes, however, are what make the system so unique and exceptional.  These courses are split into four categories: the self, the natural world, the community and the nation, and the world of ideas.  These courses don’t just present the facts.  They spark thought in students.  They generate a thought-process that many kids have not experienced.

These classes are all team-taught.   This means two or more professors will be teaching a specific course.  For example, American Civilization can be taught not only by a historian but also a religion or economist professor.  This presents a new perspective on many issues students have learned about since grade school.  It shows that there is no correct way to look at any situation.  There are always multiple points of view.

Having to think critically and knowing there is not one way to think helps any student in any major.

In total, twenty courses make up the curriculum.  As a freshman enrolling in your first semester, this may seem like a t-ball player stepping up to the plate with Nolan Ryan pitching.

However, they are spread over the course of four years.  You don’t take them all at once.  Having this set up allows students to start on their major courses as freshman as well as getting the required basics out of the way.

So, when you go to these classes don’t go in intended to put no extra effort forth.  Go into it will the mind set that becoming a well-rounded student will hurt you in no way.  It will only help you in life.

Think about it this way.  For most of us, we will never again have an opportunity to sit down with people from all walks of life and talk about controversial and provocative topics without being judged.

Seize the opportunity.