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"Extending Understanding through the Integration of the Disciplines."


The Woodside Center for Interdisciplinary Studies is a unique study center, dedicated to "extending understanding through the integration of the disciplines."   It pursues its mission through a variety of educational programs.

Scholars-in-Residence Programs:   the Center has a conference room with four graduate library style carrels, each complete with phone, computer and fax/modem hook-ups, desk, bookcase, and work area, to facilitate study of individual scholars who choose to make the Center their home for a sabbatical or research leave.  There they carry on their own individual work and have available for conversation able colleagues from other disciplines.  The Center follows a typical academic year schedule and scholars are selected for the particular dimension they bring to the theme of that year.  For the 1997-98 year the topic was "Education and Social Change." The current theme, joining oral histories, legacy studies, and environmental ethics, both physical and social, is "What Will We Tell Our Grandchildren." (See Director's note below)

The scholars-in-residence stay in housing leased through the Center and come to the Center to pursue their own work and engage their colleagues.

As the heart of the Center's effort, a scholar-in-residence bears three vital responsibilities:  (1) s/he participates in an on-going weekly seminar with the other scholars and the Director; (2) sometime during their residency, s/he will present an institute or workshop within the range of their general interest; (3) each participant will include a "publishable essay" for inclusion in The Woodside Journal, or a collection of essays drawn from the year's toic.

Visiting Scholars Program:  on occasion the Center presents lectures and workshops featuring scholars who are guests of the Center for shorter periods.  Example:  the inagural lecture/workshop presented by Dr. David M. Robinson of NIH on "The Social Consequences of the New Biology."  (April 12, 1997)

Faculty Development Consultantcy:  resources of the Center are available to area colleges and universities for faculty enrichment, at their institutions or at the Center.  Special programming is available for highschools for faculty development and for introducing interdisciplinary courses and programs into the highschool curriculum.

Curriculum Development Consultancy:   the Center and its Director are involved in The Liberal Studies Consultancy, an independant consultancy which specializes in the development and evaluation of liberal studies and interdisciplinary programs.

Conferences, Institutes and Workshops:  throughout the year the Center offers public institutes and workshops, focusing on vital social and cultural issues in an interdisciplinary format. In October, 2005, the Woodside Center co-sponsored a national conference on "The Ethics of Biomedical Research and Practice," which brought in speakers from all over the world to address the most vital issues of our day.

Adult Education Programs:  on a regular basis the Center offers courses and lecture series for the personal enrichment of intellectually active adults.  These are courses of substance that address important issues and problems with interdisciplinary rigor and excitement.  The Center also co-sponsers workshops and institutes for career enhancement with national seminar groups and area universities and colleges.

Center Publications Program:  as one major component of interdisciplinary work, the Center encourages reading, study, and discussion that lead to signiificant writing.  The center produces a twice-yearly journal, The Woodside Journal, free to members or available by general subscription.  It will also promote a volume of essays on each year's central theme, which draws on essays or chapters written by scholars-in-residence and special guests.  In addition the Center produces a quarterly newsletter, Intersect, which informs supporting members of the Center of upcoming programs and important happenings in interdisciplinary education. In 2003 an off-shoot of the Center, The Woodside Press, was launched with the publication of Be the Best That You Can Be, jointly authored by Chicago businessman, James Robert Doster, Jr., and Center Executive Director, James W. Thomasson.

The Executive Director of The Woodside Center for Interdisciplinary Studies is Dr. James W. Thomasson.   For 28 years he was a member of the Theology Department at Georgetown University and a core faculty member of their Graduate Liberal Studies Program, an adult interdisciplinary studies program. From September, 1997, through October, 2004, he taught philosophy and ethics in the Philosophy Department at the University of Minnesota, Crookston, where he established and directed the Applied Ethics program. As of August 15, 2006, Dr. Thomasson accepted a new position of developing an Applied Ethics program for the University of Charleston in Charleston, West Virginia. He will also convene a national conference on history, legacy, and values for UC in March 2007, entitled "What Will We Tell Our Grandchildren."

Dr. Thomasson can be contacted at or


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Last Update:  Friday, September 15, 2006 3:55 PM