In comprehending the mechanisms and rules that give shape to complex societies, we gain strength to influence institutional processes. Through reflection on principles that explain human behavior, we create understanding of our interpersonal experiences.
Courses in this Foundational Area are of several kinds: those that use one of the traditional social science disciplines to provide an overview of the interaction of individuals and the institutions that shape our economic, political, and social experience; those that focus on a single institution and the complex ways in which it affects our lives; and those that use a societal dilemma as the entry point for discovering the ways in which the quality of individual life is protected or challenged in various settings.
The many and distinct disciplines that contribute to this area are united by a self-conscious dedication to the modes of inquiry of contemporary social science, as applied to the American experience. As strongly as it emphasizes the substance of knowledge, this Foundational Area emphasizes how we create knowledge and arrive at understanding.