The Center for Interdisciplinary Studies (CIS) has continuously evolved to serve the needs and expectations of students and faculty members 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," according to the 1972 College Catalog, and it allowed students to design courses of study and conduct field research projects off-campus.
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 and remains the academic home for students who seek to design their own majors.
After an external review of the CIS in 2007, the center gradually established center-established majors–interdisciplinary majors that students often choose 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 or departments with their own majors, such as Africana Studies, Environmental Studies, Latin American Studies, and East Asian Studies.
The CIS 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 CIS, 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 CIS will continue to be a home for interdisciplinary research, providing students and faculty a space for academic and experiential innovation.
The current director of the CIS is Dr. Hilton Kelly, an Associate Professor of Educational Studies & Africana Studies. He is also the Chair of the Educational Studies Department.