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Interdisciplinary Concentration

The Hamilton curriculum is about forging creative connections. If the curriculum doesn’t offer what you need, you may design an interdisciplinary major, with faculty guidance. Imagine the possibilities, say; Hispanic studies/women's studies/computer science or philosophy/mathematics/dance. It can happen at Hamilton.

Asad Javed ’15
Asad Javed '15

A student’s creation: a major and a feature film

His tentative psychology major hit the cutting-room floor when Asad Javed ’15 realized his calling was film. Hamilton College didn’t have a major that precisely fit what he wanted, so he went with interdisciplinary studies, which allows a determined student to create a major with faculty support. It also allowed Javed to create a full-length film. He did everything from writing the script to securing actors, equipment, camera people and locations.

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It took Javed time to envision his path – think of him an explorer who drew his own map, with help, as he moved through his studies. A student needs to pitch an interdisciplinary proposal for approval. He mixed theatre, creative writing, cinema and new media studies and Africana studies, to name some of the elements. “I had something like 25 meetings with all these professors,” he says.

The beauty of a liberal arts college is it helps you discover interests you don’t know you have, he realized.

“The stars align and suddenly squares start to fit into circles – you know this is what you want to do,” says Javed, who wants to go to graduate school for film.

Jason Haas ’07 with President Obama
Jason Haas ’07 with President Obama

A graduate’s progress: activism and acting

Jason Haas ’07 built his own interdisciplinary major of communications and government and added a theatre minor into the mix. It’s easy to see a link between his interests at Hamilton College and his evolving career. Haas is a digital-media marketing consultant – and volunteer – for progressive organizations and socially responsible corporations. He still enjoys writing and acting for stage productions.

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In his performances Haas wants to inspire, work with and share the stories of “everyday folks making a difference in their community.”  His personal and professional activism goes back to his middle school days. At Hamilton, he founded the LGBT Empowerment and Action Project. (He also received the prestigious Posse Foundation full-tuition leadership scholarship.)

Right after college Haas had a fellowship with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. He worked as a field operative for Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012, among other activities.

Haas also is the founder of Hamilton’s LGBT alumni network, Spectrum, and works with recent alumni. He dispenses this advice to current Hamilton students: “When you really find what you’re passionate about intellectually, academically, go for that. Be an anthro major even if your parents – or you – think you should go into the legal profession…”