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Since its inception four decades ago, Union Institute & University’s Ph.D. program has been committed to providing interdisciplinary and socially relevant doctoral education for adult students pursued within the context of a mentoring-based pedagogy and through the development of highly individualized programs of study and research. The knowledge base for such study originally centered on content and methods/approaches, drawn from a wide range of conventional and non-conventional fields closely and directly related to a student’s individually-defined academic and professional interests.

The Ph.D. program’s commitment to interdisciplinary and socially engaged knowledge remains a driving part of its mission and vision. Unlike 40 years ago, however, there now exists an expansive body of interdisciplinary and socially attentive scholarship. This is evident in such newly developed fields as cultural studies, leadership studies, policy studies, postcolonial studies, and others. The distinctive role of UI&U’s Ph.D. program in American higher education, for now and the foreseeable future, is to retain its grounding in humanistic inquiry while bringing together recently developed and developing interdisciplinary fields of study in ways that draw from and advance understanding of ethics, the creative process, and the problems and possibilities of institutional and social change. Re-conceptualized in this way, Union Institute & University’s Ph.D. program offers a new generation of adult students advanced understanding of alternative intellectual and cultural traditions, while also providing these students with the foundations for thoughtful and creative engagement with fundamental dimensions of their individual and public lives.

Grounded firmly in the belief that students need to interrogate the knowledge base and approach to discovery of more than a single academic discipline, the core values of the Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies are:

  1. All study is interdisciplinary
  2. For matters of fact and value, a variety of views are at issue, hence there is a need to explore and acquire familiarity with a range of interpretations related to academic areas of concentration and research
  3. Intellectual inquiry and creative efforts are carried on within and are inseparable from social contexts
  4. A commitment to academic excellence and a high degree of scholarship are expected at all levels of learning, research, teaching, and administration

In addition, Union Institute & University’s Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies emphasizes praxis, the co-involvement of theory and practice, through exploration of the several dimensions of this co-involvement while, also, providing an opportunity, through internships and other experiences, to engage theoretical understanding within the context of practical circumstances.