Kennesaw State approves new Interdisciplinary Studies Department

Seven existing programs will combine under College of Humanities and Social Sciences KENNESAW, Ga…

Georgia (Jun 9, 2011)Seven existing programs will combine under College of Humanities and Social Sciences

KENNESAW, Ga. – (June 9, 2011) — Kennesaw State University Interim Provost W. Ken Harmon has approved the formation of a new Interdisciplinary Studies Department (ISD) within the College of Humanities and Social Science, effective fall 2011.

The new academic department will encompass seven existing academic programs, including:

  • African And African Diaspora Studies;
  • American Studies;
  • Asian Studies;
  • Environmental Studies;
  • Gender and Women’s Studies;
  • Latin American Studies; and
  • Peace Studies

Tony Grooms, professor of creative writing and literature, has been named interim chair of the new department. He will begin the new post July 1, and will serve as the ISD chair for at least the first year of the program. 

Grooms, who joined KSU’s English department in 1995, is the nationally recognized author of a book of poetry titled “Ice Poems;” “Trouble No More,” a collection of short stories; and “Bombingham,” a novel. He is a Fulbright fellow, a finalist for the Legacy Award from the Hurston-Wright Foundation, an arts administration fellow from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the recipient of two Lillian Smith Prizes from the Southern Regional Council.

 “The creation of this new interdisciplinary department advances the university’s commitment to interdisciplinary approaches to learning, and to its major goals of promoting diversity, inclusion, global learning and engaged citizenship,”Harmon said.  “The department is the culmination of nearly two years of study and planning by faculty and administrators in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.  They should be pleased that what previously functioned as a cluster of programs is now a full-fledged academic department.”

Harmon said the new department will rely on existing faculty and program coordinators and will not require additional resources to launch.

The programs comprising the ISD previously operated as a cluster under the office of the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The various academic programs offer courses leading to a master’s degree in American Studies; bachelor’s degrees in American Studies, African and African Diaspora Studies and Environmental Studies; and undergraduate minors in all of the seven programs. An interdisciplinary approach is stressed in each program.

“The alignment of these programs and their successful history of collaboration in terms of curriculum delivery, the sharing of resources, interdisciplinary research and the staging of successful events and activities reinforce the strategic goal of nurturing interdisciplinary and intercultural learning,” said Richard Vengroff, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “The new department will provide the necessary structure and support the growing demand for intellectual content among an increasingly diverse and engaged student population.”

Enrollment in courses offered by the current cluster of interdisciplinary programs has increased substantially. An introductory course for the Asian Studies minor drew nearly 20 students when it was introduced in 2008.  That same course now averages more than 30 students per semester.  Gender and Women’s Studies courses average 130 students per semester.  In spring 2010, the American Studies Program enrolled 113students, and grew to 145 students byfall 2010.  The African and African Diaspora program has graduated 11 majors and minors, but now has 20 students majoring in the program,and another 20 students are pursuing a minor.

Faculty members teaching in the cluster ofprograms endorsed the creation of a new department following a series of meetings and discussions that began in 2009.  In March of this year, 49 faculty members voted in favor of becoming a department compared to six who were opposed. 

“The departmental structure will allow decisions about faculty tenure, promotion, service and scholarship to reside wholly within the department, rather than in the discipline-based home departments to which the faculty members were previously assigned,” Vengroff said. 

For more information about programs within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, go to

Contact/Writer: Sabbaye McGriff, 678-797-2550 or 


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit