Cross-Disciplinary Connections Across Courses

What are Chords? 

Inspired by UC Berkeley See

and see

Symphonic thinking is about synthesizing, seeing connections, and is at the core of innovation and creativity. To heighten symphonic thinking, participate in a chord! Students may take three or more courses from different departments -- a 'chord' -- that explore an interdisciplinary theme. After completing these courses, students then share their reflections by making a video, creating a poster, creating a website, or giving a short presentation at the annual Research Day Symposium, and receive a certificate (and a cord) to wear with their robes at graduation. Students can accumulate multiple Chords, and if one thinks of a theme that isn't represented here, the student can propose their own.

Faculty choose to include their course in a Chord and may participate in or organize interdisciplinary panels, symposia, conferences and salons with other faculty in their Chord. Affiliated faculty in Institutes and Centers may also participate in the faculty activities in Chords that align with their missions. Involvement in the chords will be recognized in the Faculty Annual Reviews as alignment with the GW Strategic Plan. 


The world is never quiet, even its silence eternally resounds with the same notes, in vibrations which escape our ears. As for those that we perceive, they carry sounds to us, occasionally a chord, never a melody.

 Albert Camus, 1957 Nobel Prize for Literature, 1913-1960)

Every action in our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity

 Edwin Hubbel Chapin  (American clergyman, 1814-1880)





Citizenship and Leadership

War, Violence & Society

 Democracy: Past, Present,    Future


  Civics, Service, & Social   Responsibility 




Global Integration   Flows of Commodities, shortages Sustainability




Governance and Policy: Solving Tough Problems 

Freedom, Rights, Oppression


 Negotiation and Deliberative Dialogue


 Law and Policy



Systems, Networks, Patterns

Evolution & Adaptation: Processes of Change


 Science & Society

Cultural Heritage across Space and Time

Diverse Voices  

 Urban Experiences

  Advocacy & Preservation 

Human Computer Interaction

Digital Scholarship

Disruptive Innovations & Creative Destruction Medical Humanities  

The Future of Humanity






 Empathy and Compassion


Cybersecurity & Intellectual Property   Surveillance, Security & Crime            Food Security & Poverty