A new academic department established within The Global School—The Department of Integrative & Global Studies (DIGS)—is unique in that it functions as a gateway for students and faculty to connect with and make a difference in communities around the world. The department is comprised of faculty, academic staff, and administrators from the former Interdisciplinary & Global Studies Division (IGSD) and from the Great Problems Seminar (GPS).
DIGS serves three vital components of WPI’s project-based learning model. These are: the Great Problems Seminar, a program that gives first-year students and faculty the opportunity to explore holistic approaches to global problem solving; the Interactive Qualifying Project, a distinctive interdisciplinary project experience that challenges students to examine the impact of science and technology to address social issues and human needs; and the Global Projects Program—WPI’s signature program with a network of over 50 project center around the world where students tackle real-world problems in ways that are meaningful to local communities. Integrative learning is a key element of project work. In it, student teams are expected to bring perspectives and knowledge from many fields to craft solutions to complex problems.
Through DIGS, new research and academic programs will be developed as the university enhances its efforts to promote interdisciplinary research with real-world impacts. The first of these is a new master’s program in Community Climate Adaptation, launched simultaneously with the approval of the new department. This program, developed in collaboration with the Civil and Environmental Engineering department, will leverage the projects program to allow graduate students hands-on, real world application of their academic work.