The Center for Interdisciplinary Studies (CIS) has continuously evolved to face the current needs and expectations of students and faculty since its establishment as Honors College in 1969. Honors College was created "to develop accelerated programs of study for a limited number of exceptional students" (1972 College Catalog). In this iteration, students designed a course of study to allow students to be away from campus for several terms to conduct a field research project in marine biology, foreign study, or any other area.
Renamed the Center for Honors Studies in 1973, the Center developed a new focus on interdisciplinary projects such as a study of the Rocky River watershed (1974-75). In 1977, the Center was renamed the Center for Special Studies but continued its focus on interdisciplinary projects. In 1993, it became the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies as the academic home for students to create self-designed majors.
After an external review of the CIS in 2007, the center gradually established "center-established majors": interdisciplinary majors that students often chose to major in because of available faculty expertise and their own interest. These majors were evaluated both internally and externally to ensure academic quality and rigor, and were officially recognized as "center-established majors" in the spring of 2015. Some of these center-established majors have since become stand-alone interdisciplinary programs with their own majors, such as Africana Studies, Environmental Studies, Latin American Studies, and East Asian Studies.
The center continues to house both "center-established majors" and "student-designed majors." Over time, it is expected that some center-established majors will become stand-alone programs and administratively depart the center, while others will be dissolved; some current student-designed majors may also become center-established majors, with approval of the faculty. Regardless of the ebb and flow of administrative units, the center will continue to be a home for interdisciplinary research, providing students and faculty a space for academic and experiential innovation.