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Academic Programs

The Academy of Transdisciplinary Studies is the academic home of some established transdisciplinary programs and minors at Virginia Tech. Additionally, the academy is incubating a catalog of majors and minors that will be launched in stages in the next few years.

These existing and planned curricular offerings and research hubs are organized around three (3) areas.
Identities and Intersectionalities
Space and Place
Digital Transformation and Scientific Collaboration


Minor Degrees Currently Available

Africana studies is an interdisciplinary field that teaches students to critically assess present cultural forces, structural forces, and historical conditions. 

The American Indian Studies Minor gathers an understanding and examines the history, culture, politics, and issues of indigenous peoples in North America.

Learn about the interdependencies of brain, behavior, and environment through an interdisciplinary space where the natural sciences and social sciences converge.

Learn about the Appalachian region as you study environmental, social, and political experiences from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Deepen your understanding of diversity and inclusion in regard to disabilities. Discover how society defines disability and the ways individuals with disabilities overcome social barriers in their everyday lives. 

The women's and gender studies program presents new ways of thinking about how race, class, and sexuality shape our society and our experiences in it. 

Current and Upcoming Programs

Identities and Intersectionalities

Africana studies is an interdisciplinary field that teaches students to critically assess present cultural forces, structural forces, and historical conditions. You will study the economic, legal, psychological, educational, social, and moral status of people of African descent. The curriculum includes courses in literature, history, sociology, political science, religion and culture, and gender relations.

Virginia Tech’s American Indian Studies (AINS) program came into existence at the request of the Native Nations in the Commonwealth. Our program is guided by a holistic and practical approach to the issues and realities confronting Indigenous peoples, past, present, and future. American Indian and Indigenous Studies is by nature an interdisciplinary and place-based endeavor, and our program works closely with regional Indigenous communities to foster a global understanding of critical issues impacting culture, environment, and society through multiple perspectives. Our pedagogical and research initiatives begin close to home—in the ancestral homelands of the Monacan Peoples—and follow a pattern of outward-moving concentric circles to promote a deeper understanding and application of Indigenous knowledge in addressing global concerns and in empowering Indigenous communities to advance culturally-relevant and place-based agendas. 

This Pathways minor introduces students to Indigenous, Black, and European experiences and histories in the surrounding region and invites students to take action, informed by scholarship, to improve the well-being of people, communities, and ecologies.

The disability studies minor includes courses in human development; apparel, housing and resource management; psychology; education; and science, technology, and society. Whether working with people directly or through systems of design, this study is relevant for careers ranging from equipment engineering to classroom teaching to legal policymaking.

The minor in Latin American and Latinx Studies offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of Latinx and Hispanic identities in the US and Latin American societies. By studying politics, history, art, popular culture, and literature from these communities, students will get to better comprehend issues of identity, power relations, inequality, social justice, and cultural diversity.

This undergraduate minor will provide students with opportunities to better understand veterans and their experiences by exploring the political, social, emotional, cultural, and historical aspects of military service and its implications for veterans, their families, and society.  We address veterans in society and will not be limited to one particular country, ideology, era, or a predetermined set of military experiences. 

 

Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) is an interdisciplinary program that promotes complex, holistic perspectives on identity, inequality, knowledge, and power from  feminist theoretical perspectives. The program fosters the generation of knowledge about gender and sexuality in all their diversity and thus applies an intersectional lens, demonstrating at every level the importance of race/ethnicity, class, dis/ability, and nation/location for understanding gender issues.

Space and Place

Displacement studies is an emerging interdisciplinary field that examines processes of displacement and the structural systems that contribute to forced relocation. The field intersects with refugee and migration studies. Displacement studies focuses on the ways in which humans experience processes of displacement, whether due to natural disaster, climate change, government-induced development, civil unrest, or eminent domain. The field also examines how these experiences are addressed — or not — in laws, policies, technologies, housing, and historical narratives about displacement. Finally, the field explores the intersections among related issues such as human rights, citizenship, statelessness, sovereignty, (national) security, housing, social services, and community health.

The Environmental and Climate Justice minor will prepare Virginia Tech students to tackle the equity and justice dimensions of the climate crisis and other environmental challenges. Environmental degradation and climate change affect nearly every aspect of society, including health, well-being, education, the built environment, gender and race relations, food security, politics, the economy, disaster recovery, and work; however, the effects of environmental degradation and climate change are not felt equally.

The Food Studies Program is a community of people engaging with food, in all its dimensions, and adding a critical perspective drawing from the humanities and social sciences. Food Studies facilitates teaching, interdisciplinary research, and community engagement to promote understandings of food consumption and production within historical, social, and ethical contexts. We draw on the expertise of faculty from fields such as history, sociology, political science, philosophy, gender studies, literature, folklore studies, geography, education, Africana studies, American Indian Studies, and more. The program seeks to establish conversations, facilitate critical thinking, foster effective communication, and work toward solutions around food issues, both within and beyond the academy.

Digital Transformation and Scientific Collaboration

The Adaptive Brain and Behavior (ABB) minor helps students bridge learning between natural sciences, social science, and the humanities at the nexus of neurophysiology, behavior, and social environment. In addition to meeting Pathways requirements, students completing the ABB minor benefit from having a multidisciplinary perspective on factors that impact health, wellbeing and resilience, and a deeper understanding of the neurobiological underpinnings of thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, and social influences.

The Pathways Minor in Communicating and Engaging with Science is intended to help non-STEM majors engage creatively, confidently, and critically with issues related to science. Learning to communicate about complex scientific and data-driven ideas, will allow non-STEM majors to become better communicators around to crucial issues of science in our world. In addition, they will learn techniques and strategies for improving communication and collaboration within their own disciplines. The minor will allow non-STEM majors to combine their required Reasoning in the Natural Sciences and Quantitative and Computational Thinking coursework with communication and evaluation techniques and methods. They will be able to engage in meaningful scientific discussion and inquiry.

The Data in Social Context (DiSC) program at Virginia Tech builds upon a theoretical framework drawn from data science, humanities, and social science fields that share a common intellectual purpose of asking about the relationship between counting and context. The Data in Social Context initiative builds on the most recent, exciting, and transformative shifts in critical data studies that address questions of structural inequality, recognize marginalized populations or silenced voices, and highlight contributions of diverse communities.

The Content Operations initiative explores a trandidsciplinary approach to content (including creation, design, management, marketing, publication, etc.) that prioritizes people over tools; cares about diversity, equity, and inclusion in authors and readers; establishes and updates a governance plan built on ethical considerations and effective user experience research; aligns with organizational business goals without ignoring the human beings involved in its processes; implements and revises the appropriate technology tools for responsible automation and personalization of content; and adapts to the global and local needs of diverse audiences.

The Digital Games and Interactive Entertainment minor is concerned with developing curricula accessible to students across the Virginia Tech campus interested in the design, creation, analysis, and criticism of digital games, simulations, virtual environments, and similar interactive and immersive media technologies. Whether students are interested in working in the games industry, developing powerful digital narratives for prosocial aims, or exploring the social, behavioral, and cultural dimensions of virtual environments, we are working to develop courses and student experiences based in a range of faculty research expertise to complement the strengths of existing Virginia Tech majors and prepare graduates for a range of roles related to interactive media.

Using interdisciplinary approaches to the study of security, Integrated Security facilitates the study of complex interactions that take place within and among human, cyber, economic, global, and political dimensions. It enables students to develop conceptual, analytical and evaluative skills relative to the dynamic and cascading effects of emerging security events, threats, and risks. Students learn to exercise decision making with a holistic and integrative understanding of a wide range of security challenges.

 

The language sciences working group is developing an academic major to provide students with a universal skill set marketable in speech-related professions, careers with a cross-cultural focus, a variety of research fields, and any career with an emphasis on strong communication skills.

Tech for Humanity is a university-wide effort that emphasizes Virginia Tech’s role as one of the top human-centered comprehensive universities leading discovery, learning, and engagement to address the societal impact of technological innovation through human-centered approaches. As the heartbeat of humanistic disciplines at Virginia Tech, the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences plays a vital role in this initiative. The initiative foregrounds the role of ethics, empathy, policy, responsible innovation, equity, human-factor design, human identity, creativity, global collaboration, societal values, inclusion and diversity, sustainability, and attention toward the future of work to ensure a viable outlook for human thriving amidst significant innovations in technology that will shape our world in the decades to come.

Transdisciplinary Praxis is housed in the Honors College.

The academy is open to proposals from faculty members interested in developing transdisciplinary projects.