Cultural Studies Bridging Disciplines Program

STATEMENT OF OBJECTIVE: The Cultural Studies Bridging Disciplines Program (BDP) teaches students to analyze the construction of images and artifacts, narratives, and identities, and their effects on social life. Its interdisciplinary approach offers methodologies with which to study culture defined in the broadest possible sense, from high art, to baseball and other leisure activities, to the practices of everyday life—all understood within a variety of social, historical, and national contexts.

Cultural Studies offers ways to study our own lives, asking questions relevant to our everyday encounters with differences and similarities, power and oppression, values and desires, pain and pleasure. Five areas of study provide students with vantage points for analyzing images, customs, and artifacts in the world around them:
1. Race, Gender, and Sexuality
2. Geography, Place, and Culture
3. Human Rights and Global Citizenship
4. Pop Cultures
5. Public Performances

An interdisciplinary faculty panel helps students choose courses, participate in faculty research projects, and find internships with local cultural organizations, from museums and theatres to film societies and oral history projects.

BDP certificates combine courses that fulfill core requirements, electives, and a limited number of courses counting toward students’ majors with unique research and internships. With planning, the BDP should not add time to students’ UT careers. Rather, the BDP certificates are designed to help students choose the courses they already have to take in an integrated way, giving them the opportunity to develop a secondary area of specialization.

Our goal is to have the Cultural Studies BDP approved for recognition on students’ official transcripts. We would like to begin recognizing the Cultural Studies BDP on official transcripts for students who graduate in fall 2009. This change affects pages 21-22 of the 2008-10 Undergraduate Catalog.

NEED (EXPECTED DEMAND): There are currently 26 active students in the Cultural Studies BDP, and we expect 5-10 students to graduate with a Cultural Studies certificate in the 2008-09 academic year. We expect that the program will grow and could eventually accommodate up to approximately 50 active students in any given year.

In order to earn a Certificate in the Children and Society Bridging Disciplines Program, students must fulfill the following requirements:

3. At least nineteen credit hours of course work, to be distributed as follows:
a. Foundation Courses: Four credit hours of foundation courses that introduce key concepts and methodologies related to the interdisciplinary study of Children and Society. Students choose one course from each of the following categories:
i. Forum Seminar: BDP 101: Children and Society; BDP 101: Health Inequality in Childhood and Adolescence; or another course approved by the Children and Society faculty committee.
ii. ii. Child Development Course: PSY 304: Intro to Child Psychology; HDF 313: Child Development; or PSY 333D: Intro to Developmental Psychology.
b. Connecting Experiences: Six to nine credit hours of undergraduate research or internships that connect students’ Children and Society BDP to their major field. Connecting Experiences are designed to be individualized based on the student’s interests and goals, and a variety of course numbers offered through the BDPs (BDP 310, 311, 320, 321) and in departments across the University may be used. All students must write a 3-5 page essay reflecting on the experience, in addition to the academic requirements specified by the faculty member supervising the student and assigning a grade. Examples of past Connecting Experiences completed by Children and Society students include internships at the Austin Area Urban League, the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General of Texas, and the Dell Children’s Medical Center. Students have completed research Connecting Experiences by participating in faculty research labs with a focus on children and families, and by pursuing independent projects focusing on a variety of topics.
c. Courses in a Strand: Six to nine credit hours of courses in a strand that allow students to focus their remaining BDP course work. Students may choose from among the following six strands, or they may design an individualized strand with approval from the faculty panel: Adolescence; Children and the Family; Children and Health; Children and Public Policy; Early Childhood Intervention; Education, Language, and Literacy. The attached curriculum sheet for Children and Society lists the currently approved courses for each strand. The faculty committee for Children and Society approves new courses that may count toward the certificate each semester, and the committee may also approve student petitions to count unlisted courses on a case-by-case basis.
4. A 3-4 page integration essay in which students reflect on what they have learned and accomplished through their BDP experience. These essays will be reviewed by members of the BDP faculty panel.
5. Students must earn a grade of C or above in each of the courses taken to fulfill BDP requirements. All but one of the courses taken to fulfill BDP requirements must be taken on the letter-grade basis.
6. At least half of the required course work in the BDP certificate must be completed in residence at The University of Texas at Austin.
7. Completion of the requirements of a major.

Catharine Echols (Committee Chair), Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
Sarah Buel, Clinical Professor, School of Law
Robert Crosnoe, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology
Lori Holleran Steiker, Associate Professor, School of Social Work
Sharon Horner, Associate Professor, School of Nursing
Aletha Huston, Professor, Department of Human Ecology
Barbara Immroth, Professor, School of Information
Judith Jellison, Professor, School of Music
Alba Ortiz, Professor, Department of Special Education
Elizabeth Peña, Associate Professor, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Fred Peterson, Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology and Health Education
Kathleen Tyner, Assistant Professor, Department of Radio-Television-Film

The purpose of a student transcript is to serve as a comprehensive record of a student’s academic progress and achievement at the University. Students pursuing BDP certificate programs at UT Austin complete 19 credit hours related to secondary areas of specialization without receiving recognition for this work on their official transcripts. Recognizing the Children and Society BDP on students’ official transcripts will represent a more comprehensive picture of these students' academic achievement at UT Austin.

It is in the interests of our students to list BDP certificates on official transcripts, particularly as they apply for jobs and for graduate and professional programs. In most cases, students pursue BDP certificates in order to develop a secondary area of specialization that enhances their major and gives them an additional professional qualification. For example, a student pursuing a certificate in Children and Society through the BDP might wish to complement a psychology or social work degree with a certificate that demonstrates more specific knowledge related to children. By recognizing this program on transcripts, we will help these students convey more effectively the full picture of what they learned and accomplished at UT.

Recognizing BDP certificate programs is also in the interest of the University, not only as a means of supporting students as they apply for jobs and graduate/professional school programs, but also as a means of recruiting new students and advising current students. From a recruitment perspective, the ability to combine a major with a certificate might prove attractive to prospective students, particularly those with interests in areas where UT does not yet offer a major. From an advising perspective, the option of combining a certificate with a major might help persuade students to choose majors more rationally, especially in cases where students have been rejected from their first-choice college or feel compelled to select multiple majors.


Approver: Paul B. Woodruff
Date: December 16, 2008
Title: Dean, School of Undergraduate Studies