First interdisciplinary studies majors to graduate SaturdayThis May, three Harding University students will become the first
group of graduates for a program that allowed them to design their own
unique majors including visual media design, global communications and
global narrative through the Honors College.
Students at Harding have long been able to design their own majors but
lacked the academic advisers and community of belonging to a certain
department. In an honors capstone project proposed by 2009 graduate
Chris Cochran, the Honors College would fill voids for students
designing their own majors and supervise the program under the office
of the vice president for academic affairs.
The custom designed interdisciplinary studies program began in fall
2009 and is now celebrating the first class of graduates including Gil
Gildner, Calea Bakke and Mark Slagle.
Gildner, a senior from Little Rock, Ark., created a degree in visual
media design that allowed him to combine upper level communication
classes with core graphic design classes.
“I'm glad that I was able to get a good foundation of design skills,
and then build off those skills with some great communication
classes,” said Gildner.
After graduation, he plans on using his unique degree to tell stories
through visuals and to pursue documentary filmmaking and commercial
Senior Calea Bakke of Antioch, Tenn., created a degree called global
communications that puts mass communication skills in a global setting
with a foundation of political science, geography and history.
“I feel that the global communications major has prepared me for what
I love to do — communicate with people around the world with different
mediums and messages. This degree has allowed me to get the most out
of my education at Harding by allowing me to create a degree plan that
matches my passions while challenging and preparing me for the
future,” said Bakke.
Upon graduating, Bakke will be moving to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. to work
for a nonprofit organization called OneHope in the communications
Mark Slagle, a senior from Brentwood, Tenn., built his major with
classes centered around history, social sciences and international
studies and based in video production. In his time at Harding, he was
able to work on two separate documentaries overseas and gain
experience with storytelling in a global arena.
“The interdisciplinary studies [major] has allowed me to break from
the boundaries of a classroom and traditional lecture into a world of
experiential education,” said Slagle. “The process was under my
control, giving me the responsibility of developing a strong,
challenging and appropriate degree that would adequately suit my
Upon graduating, Slagle plans to continue traveling and telling
stories and has already signed contracts for three jobs this summer.