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A Culture of Care >> Read Smith’s plans for the fall 2021 semester.

Integrative Learning

A student writing in a notebook

Integrative Learning brings together multiple units at Smith College who share a mission to develop agency in Smith students and help them transform that agency into informed, purposeful action via the integration of their curricular and co-curricular experiences.

Integrative Learning Units

The current partners of the Integrative Learning team are the Conway Center, Design Thinking Initiative and Wurtele Center for Leadership. Our work is further informed by strategic collaboration with the Lazarus Center for Career Development and the director for reflective and integrative learning. This work is supported by a broader culture of curiosity, humility and reflection, which we seek to cultivate at the college.


The marriage of critical thinking and hands-on practice has informed our exciting collection of course offerings. See the Course Catalog for registration details.

IDP 116: Introduction to Human Centered Design

In this 1-credit, two-week introductory course we will take-on systemic challenges amplified by COVID-19 and explore what designing towards justice might look and feel like. Students will employ human-centered design, a process that centers the lived experience of people most impacted by a challenge in creatively addressing it. We will look at the implications of design in shaping the world around us and develop a critical lens on designs' role in making change. Students will explore what it means to re-frame challenges 
as opportunities, engage in humble inquiry, observe in new ways, synthesize qualitative research, co-generate ideas, prototype, and test their designs. 1 credit; S/U only. Course max: 16 students

IDP 132: Designing Your Path

Whether you are starting your Smith journey, embarking on or returning from an immersive experience abroad, weaving your interests through a Concentration or self-designed major, or wrestling with expressing what a Smith education has prepared you to do, this is the class for you. Test different integrative paths of your own design, tell your own story, and create a digital portfolio to showcase your work. By the end of class, you will be able to articulate connections between your work in and outside of the classroom, and to explain how Smith is preparing you to engage with the world beyond. Enrollment limited to 12. (E)

IDP 133: Critical Perspectives on Collaborative Leadership

Traditional conceptions of leadership set up leading and working as a team as diametrically opposed; “leaders” are often conceptualized as those who achieve greatness through their own powers of persuasion or individual achievement, while “teams” are often framed as leaderless efforts that move forward by virtue of dispersed contributions to a given project or initiative. This course challenges students to interrogate this perceived dichotomy by viewing theories and histories of leadership and collaboration through a critical lens and exploring alternative ways of imagining change-making as a collaborative leadership act. Through reading, writing, reflection and practice, the class will offer students new perspectives on how they might bring others into collaboration by being knowledgeable about what it means to team (as a verb), intentionally creating a productive team culture, and modeling processes that encourage others to step in and out of the lead. This course is especially useful as a foundation for those students whose future academic (or life!) work is likely to engage them in significant group work.

IDP 146: Critical Perspectives on Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship takes on a diversity of meanings, forms and structures depending on its source and context. In this course, the topic of entrepreneurship is studied from a variety of critical and under- explored vantage points such as ethics, access, inclusion, culture, power, expression, agency, economic empowerment, cultural and social transformation. Entrepreneurship is counter-mapped from an inter-, intra- and multi-disciplinary lens from the liberal arts tradition and the course examines the commonalities that connect both. The potential of entrepreneurship to create sustained social transformations is critically examined alongside its unique identity within and outside of the realm of economic exchange.

IDP 155: Entrepreneurship I - Introduction to Innovation

In this course, students will begin a journey towards developing an entrepreneurial mindset gaining immediate experience with entrepreneurial innovation by generating bold solutions to problems. Students will be challenged to think about ventures that address a new and just world post COVID-19 using the 17 UNSDGs as a framework for their projects. Students will also analyze cases about real entrepreneurs and explore their challenges, obstacles and ethical decision making. This course is designed around individual and team-based assignments that culminate in final team presentations. Enrollment in IDP 116 is encouraged but not required. 1 credit; S/U only. Course max: 30 students

IDP 156: Entrepreneurship II - Entrepreneurship in Practice

Building on IDP 155, students will continue developing an entrepreneurial mindset by exploring the process of planning, testing and iterating on their unique ideas, and learning the innovative Lean Launch methodology. Teams will begin mapping their ideas using the Business Model Canvas and the Value Proposition Canvas. Students will be exposed to the Failure Spectrum and analyze cases about failure. Students work in teams to complete daily homework assignments and a final presentation. This course is designed around individual and team-based assignments that culminate in final team presentations. Enrollment in IDP 116 and IDP 155 is encouraged but not required. 1 credit; S/U only. Course max: 30 students

IDP 316: Critical Design Thinking Studio

This 4-credit interdisciplinary project-based course emphasizes human-centered design process as well as critical social theory on the relationships between humans and our contexts. Through hands-on, individual and collaborative making, participants will learn qualitative research methods, rapid idea generation techniques, prototyping and iterative implementation. This learning will happen alongside rich class discussions of both seminal and contemporary scholarly work on design’s role in shaping the lived experience.

Co-Curricular Activities

Student agency is translated into action through the integration of co-curricular knowledge and experiences that are guided by a student’s personal values in tandem with a commitment to the well-being of people and the planet.