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Interdisciplinary Making Concentration

IMX is for students who make things–who learn by doing. Concentrators explore making as a way to understand their disciplinary studies and reimagine their work in broader contexts. IMX provides the opportunity to question what kinds of making are, and have been, valued by whom and why. Concentrators learn to actualize ideas and both advance and diversify the culture of making at Smith and beyond. IMX students learn to critically understand the impacts of the made world, challenge definitions of making, model interdisciplinarity in action, and how to best take advantage of the many opportunities for making on campus.

Department Update

Design Thinking

Learn more about opportunities at Design Thinking Initiative.

Requirements & Courses

Learning Goals

Students will leave IMX with the capacity to:

  • Navigate resources and troubleshoot as a maker

  • Innovatively push tools/technologies and materials

  • Iteratively materialize and advance ideas

  • Critique & contextualize the made and the impacts of making 

  • Articulate their journey as an interdisciplinary maker

Crosslisted Courses

IDP 111 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Making (2 Credits)

This course is a series of workshops that situate particular making techniques that take place in Smith’s many “makerspaces” within social, economic, ecological, historical and cultural contexts. Students connect their making practice to the ways making informs their liberal arts education. This course also serves to introduce students to the faculty and staff who facilitate making at the many different making spaces across the college. S/U only. Enrollment limited to 18.

Fall, Spring

IDP 232 Articulating Your Path (1 Credit)

This course is for students who have completed IDP 132 or another Smith experience that allowed for reflection on curricular and experiential work, values and goals. Students begin to look outward. After reviewing and assessing important learning experiences, students conduct qualitative interviews to gain a multidimensional understanding of their discipline in the world. Students simultaneously create a "personal syllabus," a reflection on maintaining and pursuing curiosity. Finally, they make a narrative digital portfolio and gain experience with public voice through an op-ed, TED talk or other piece of media. S/U only. Prerequisites: IDP 132. Enrollment limited to 12.

Fall, Spring, Variable

IDP 316 [Critical] Design Thinking Studio (4 Credits)

This interdisciplinary project-based course emphasizes human-centered design process as well as critical social theory on the relationships between humans and designed things. Through hands-on, individual and collaborative making, students learn design-thinking skills such as user-experience research, rapid idea generation techniques, prototyping and iterative implementation. This learning happens alongside rich class discussions of both seminal and contemporary scholarly work on design’s role in shaping the lived experience. Perspectives include archaeology, critical psychology, civil engineering, postcolonial studies, cognitive science, sociology and art history. Enrollment limited to 15. Instructor permission required.

Fall, Spring, Variable

Interdisciplinary Making Concentration

Requirements
  1. Gateway course: IDP 111
  2. Four electives (16 credits) from any Five College department or program that addresses the themes and concerns of IMX and are approved by the Interdisciplinary Making Advisory Committee. We encourage concentrators to explore electives from two or more divisions and choose courses that span disciplines. If courses fall within the same department, a student needs to demonstrate how the forms of making are varied in technique, form and/or material. We typically only allow concentrators to count one course from their major towards their concentration. At least two elective courses should be taken after admittance to the concentration.

  3. Two practical experiences or internships that engage making in some substantial way
  4. The capstone experience will be comprised of two courses (5 credits): 

    1. IDP 316: Critical Design Thinking Studio

    2. IDP 232: Articulating Your Path where students will create a digital portfolio showcasing their experience as an Interdisciplinary Maker

Additional Programmatic Information

Through advising and support and guidance from campus resources such as the Lazarus Center and Jandon Center, concentrators will select and develop two practicums. Each practicum will require between 120–220 hours of work, to be completed in one semester, over intertem or during the summer—this is modeled after the Praxis guidelines and the hours a student is permitted for work study per week. A credit-bearing elective counting towards the concentration may not also count as a practicum.

Students can use a variety of funded opportunities for their practical experiences including, but not limited to; Praxis, work study, STRIDE research, AEMES research, special studies, and the Collaborative Leadership & Design Immersion. Additionally students might pursue immersive specialized learning programs such as craft schools or an apprenticeship with a master maker. The practicums will be evaluated through a discussion between the student and their adviser and relevant staff mentors. IMX students prepare for this with a proposal and will use the Praxis reflection form that Concentrations across the college have adopted for post practicum evaluation. Additionally, students will be required to visually capture and document processes and outcomes from their practical experiences to build towards their culminating portfolio. Students and their advisors may also choose to develop additional methods of evaluation that specifically address the practicum topics.

Additional Resources

Additional Course Information

DP 111: Introduction to Interdisciplinary Making (2 Credits)
This course is a series of workshops that situate particular making techniques that take place in Smith’s many “makerspaces” within social, economic, ecological, historical, and cultural contexts. Students will connect their making practice to the ways making informs their liberal arts education. This course will also serve to introduce students to the faculty and staff who facilitate making at the many different making spaces across the college. S/U only. Enrollment limited to 21.

Fall

We are interested in how a student’s work within a particular domain might be changed, informed, or enhanced through making. Therefore, concentrators must choose four courses from among the many courses offered within the Five Colleges that are connected in some way to the culture (theory and/or practice) of making, and which advance one or more of the IMX learning goals.

We encourage concentrators to explore electives from two or more divisions and choose courses that span disciplines. Concentrators are typically allowed to count only one course from their major towards their concentration. If intended elective courses do fall within the same department, the student must demonstrate how the forms of making are varied in technique, form, and/or materiality. In order to ensure students have had the theoretical and practical introductions, we would expect at least two elective courses to be taken after admittance to the concentration.

Troubleshoot as a maker through experimentation, risk taking, learning through failure, and investigative inventiveness

  • BCH 317: Experimental Design in Bio-Molecular Engineering
  • SDS/CSC 109: Communicating with Data
  • LSS 260: Visual Storytelling: Graphics, Data and Design
  • IDP 325: Art/Math Studio
  • IDP 116: Introduction to Design Thinking
  • DAN 553: Choreography and Design

Critique & contextualize the impacts of making within social, economic, ecological, historical, and cultural contexts

  • BIO 106: Botanical Economies: Plants and People
  • FYS 155: Housing In/Justice and Tiny House Dreams
  • GEO 150: Mapping our World: An Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
  • PYX 140: The Art and Business of Poetry
  • SWG 150: Introduction to the Study of Women and Gender
  • ENV 312: Sustainable Solutions

Iteratively materialize & advance ideas

  • IBCH 317: Experimental Design in Bio-Molecular Engineering
  • SDS/CSC 109: Communicating with Data
  • EGR 422D: Design Clinic
  • ART ARS 280: Introduction to Architectural Design Studio
  • GER 200: Intermediate German: The German Environment

Navigate resources through the identification and responsible use of the right tools, technology, and/or materials

  • EGR 100: Engineering for Everyone
  • EGR 377: Seminar: Aerial Vehicle Design
  • THE 252: Introduction to Set Design
  • ARS 172: Studio Art Foundations
  • FMS 280: Introduction to Video Production

Contextualize their journey as a liberal arts maker by experiencing interdisciplinary connections with making

  • EAL 235: Class, Gender and Material Culture in Late Imperial China
  • LSS 245: Place Frames: Photography As Method In Landscape Studies
  • PHI 204: Philosophy and Design
  • ARS 275: The Book: Theory & Practice
  • IDP 291: Reflecting on the International Experience: Depicting Journey with Digital Storytelling
  • PSY 227: Brain, Behavior and Emotion
  • HST 270: Topics in American History-Anatomy of a Slave Revolt

The Capstone experience will take advantage of two existing course offerings: IDP 316 Critical Design Thinking Studio where students will actualize a project, as a capstone studio, and a section of IDP 232 Articulating Your Path (AYP). IMX students may also work with their advisor to propose an alternative to IDP 316 as part of their capstone experience. Required participation in IDP 232: AYP will allow concentrators, no matter what capstone experience they complete, to thoughtfully engage as a cohort in the synthesis of their experience as a liberal arts maker and to produce a portfolio capturing that journey.

  • IDP 232: Articulating Your Path (1 Credit)
    This course is for students who have completed IDP 132 or another Smith experience that allowed for reflection on curricular and experiential work, values and goals. Students begin to look outward. After reviewing and assessing important learning experiences, students conduct qualitative interviews to gain a multidimensional understanding of their discipline in the world. Students simultaneously create a "personal syllabus," a reflection on maintaining and pursuing curiosity. Finally, they make a narrative digital portfolio and gain experience with public voice through an op-ed, TED talk or other piece of media. S/U only. Prerequisites: IDP 132. Enrollment limited to 12.

    Fall, Spring, Variable

  • IDP 316: [Critical] Design Thinking Studio (4 Credits)
    This interdisciplinary project-based course emphasizes human-centered design process as well as critical social theory on the relationships between humans and designed things. Through hands-on, individual and collaborative making, students learn design-thinking skills such as user-experience research, rapid idea generation techniques, prototyping and iterative implementation. This learning happens alongside rich class discussions of both seminal and contemporary scholarly work on design’s role in shaping the lived experience. Perspectives include archaeology, critical psychology, civil engineering, postcolonial studies, cognitive science, sociology and art history. Enrollment limited to 15. Instructor permission required.

    Fall, Spring, Variable

Advisory Committee

Chris Aiken

Dance

Professor of Dance & Chair of the Department of Dance

Chris Aiken

Kathy Guo

Design Thinking

Prototyping Studio Manager, Design Thinking Initiative

Kathy Guo

Eric Jensen

Interdisciplinary Making Concentration

Director, Center for Design & Fabrication

Eric Jensen

Borjana Mikic

Engineering

Rosemary Bradford Hewlett 1940 Professor of Engineering

Borjana Mikic

Emily Norton

Collaborative Innovation

Director and Lecturer of Practice, Design Thinking Initiative

Andrew Palmore

Interdisciplinary Making Concentration

Shop Supervisor, Hillyer Woodshop

Advisory Committee

  • Reid Bertone-Johnson, Senior Lecturer in Landscape Studies and Co-Director of IMX
  • Emily Norton, Director of the Design Thinking Initiative, Lecturer of Practice, and Co-Director of IMX
  • Borjana Mikic, Rosemary Bradford Hewlett 1940 Professor of Engineering
  • Chris Aiken, Professor of Dance
  • Kathy Guo, Prototyping Studio Manager at The Design Thinking Initiative
  • Amy Putnam, Technical Director of the Theater
  • Eric Jensen, Director of the Center for Design and Fabrication
  • Andrew Palmore, Shop Supervisor/Technician in Art
  • Lynne Yamamoto, Jessie Wells Post Professor of Art

Forms

Declaration of Concentration

Students who have been accepted into the concentration and received their adviser’s name need to fill out the 
→ Program of Study Declaration Form. 
This is the last step in making the concentration official in Workday.

Practical Experience Forms

After discussing the proposed practical experience with their advisers, students need to fill out the corresponding practical experience approval form in order to have the experience count towards the concentration requirements:

  • Summer Internship (100 hours or more) → Internship Credit Application 
    All students undertaking a summer internship of at least 100 hours are eligible to receive academic credit (0.25 credits per experience) that will appear on their transcript. We encourage all students who qualify to apply for internship credit. Students applying for Praxis funding don’t need to fill out this form, and should instead use the “Praxis with Credit” form below.
  • Unpaid Summer Internship (220 hours or more) → Praxis with Credit Application 
    All Smith students are eligible to receive a stipend payment for one normally unpaid internship through the Praxis program at the Lazarus Center. These internships must take place during the summer, and must comprise at least 220 working hours. Students in Concentrations are eligible to apply for Praxis a second time– Praxis Plus. When applying for a Praxis internship, the applicant must specify if the internship counts towards a concentration and should fill out the “Praxis with Credit” application.
  • Other Internships and Practical Experiences 
    Students whose internships do not meet the above requirements because they take place during Interterm, during the school year, or for any other reason, should fill out the following forms. 
    Prior to starting the internship please fill out the → Practical Experience Approval Form. 
    Upon completion of the practical experience please fill out the  Practical Experience Completion Form.
  • Retroactive Credit for an Experience 
    Students who completed a practical experience relevant to the concentration prior to being accepted into the cohort should discuss the experience with their concentration adviser as soon as possible. Once the experience is approved, students must fill out the  Practical Experience Completion Form and check the “Retroactive Experience” box on the form.

Advising Checklist for Graduation

Students are required to submit a completed Concentration Advising Checklist at the start of their final semester. This form documents the completed components of the concentration requirements, and must be signed by the student’s concentration adviser. Completed form should be sent to the registrar’s office (registrar@smith.edu) and to the administrative coordinator for concentrations (concentrations@smith.edu).

IMX Advising Checklist

Application

Next application deadline is March 15, 2024.

Sophomores, juniors, and Ada Comstock Scholars are encouraged to apply.

Contact Interdisciplinary Making Concentration

Interdisciplinary Making Concentration