University College Message from the Dean
University College is the home of the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies, the Focused Inquiry Department, and the Common Book Program. As such, every faculty and staff member of University College is committed to helping students think independently and critically, to pushing students to develop their analytical skills, to strengthening students’ engagement with the campus and the community, and to providing students with the tools they need to succeed at VCU and as lifelong learners.
Our programs emphasize interdisciplinary and innovative teaching in small class settings that engage students with their professors, their fellow students, their campus, and their community. Most students will encounter University College through Focused Inquiry (FI) classes and the Common Book program. Focused Inquiry courses (UNIV 111, 112, & 200), are required for most VCU students. Taught by faculty whose backgrounds include advanced degrees in a wide range of academic disciplines, FI courses give students the opportunity to learn how to think deeply, critically, and analytically about the kinds of large issues they will encounter throughout their academic careers at VCU.
Through the Common Book program, University College brings the entire VCU campus together to consider important social issues that have a significant impact on our campus. The 2021 - 2022 year book is Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush. The author's account of climate change addresses human and nonhuman lives, race and class, geography and economics, emotion and reason. Rising seas are transforming the coastline of the United States in irrevocable ways. Using individual narratives and broader looks at communities, Rush guides readers through some of the places where this change has been most dramatic, from the Gulf Coast to Miami, from New York City to the Bay Area, and beyond. In addition to discussing the issues raised by Rising in FI classes, University College will sponsor a visit by Elizabeth Rush and a number of related events in order to engage the campus community. The Common Book program models the complex nature of twenty-first century problems, demonstrating the reasoned, analytical, and interdisciplinary strategies that are needed to address them.
The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) program provides undergraduate students the opportunity to focus their academic studies on interdisciplinary problem-solving. Students who select the BIS program as their major work closely with advisors and faculty to develop an individual plan of study that combines upper-level study in two or three different academic areas.
University College is located on the fifth floor of Grace E. Harris Hall. Please stop by and see us!
Constance C. Relihan