Dixie State University’s Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (IAS) department houses two programs that allow students to create a customized major: Integrated Studies and Individualized Studies. DSU student Megan Scoresby interviewed IAS faculty member Dr. Nancy Ross to learn more about her experiences in the IAS department.
Megan: What is your favorite part about working in the IAS department?
Nancy: I have a lot of favorite parts. I love my colleagues, I work with some really great people who’ve done some really interesting things. I like the inter-personal dynamic that we have. We’re a pretty friendly department, and I enjoy that so much. I also like working with students from a lot of different kinds of backgrounds, we get a lot of returning students in this department, as well as a lot of traditional students, and everything in between. I have enjoyed, not just working with students in one subject area, but working with students who are interested in a lot of different things—I enjoy engaging those interests.
Megan: All in all, what attracted you to this program?
Nancy: Well, my Ph.D. is in art history, but a handful of years ago, I started doing research outside of art history. Then in about 2013 I started working and publishing in the area of sociology of religion, and almost all of my work since that time has been in that area. I realized that I was working pretty consistently outside of my home discipline. The only way I could really live into that space in my teaching was to move to the IAS department., I knew a bunch of people in this department at that time, and I could see the way in which they drew on lots of different disciplines in their teaching and how that seemed to keep things lively and interesting. It seemed like working in this department offered a lot of variety, all the time. That’s part of what drew me to IAS.
Megan: What are you working on right now?
Nancy: Right now, I am outlining a book with a co-author and friend of mine named Jessica Finnigan. Our book is on LDS garments—it’s a sociology of religion work. We did a big survey a number of years ago and got four and a half thousand people to tell us about their garments.
Megan: How does your research experience benefit students in your department?
Nancy: One of the classes that I’m teaching right now is called INTS 3100, where students do a lot of writing and learn how to write literature reviews, which is a more formal type of academic writing than lots of students have done before. The class has helped me write better literature reviews in my own work, and that helps my teaching because I can point out and say to my students, you know, we’re not just doing this for fun, I’m still working on building some of these same skills. I focus on honing and refining my writing skills too. I feel like the teaching and research feed on each other to help me be a better teacher. It would be hard for me to ask a lot of my students with regard to their writing, if I wasn’t also working on my writing. I feel confident when I ask students to do things, that I’m not asking them to do something that I can’t or wouldn’t do, but rather something that I’m also learning to do better.
To learn more about Integrated Studies visit their website here.