In just three years, Viking Anthony Luiso '21, of Revere earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Bachelor of Liberal Studies in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in American Studies. Anthony spoke to us about his experience and why he believes the interdisciplinary studies program benefitted his education experience at Salem State.
Why did you choose to major in interdisciplinary studies?
I joined the interdisciplinary studies (IDS) program in 2019 after I took one course with Professor Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello. That is where I found my liking to the whole entire program. It is very much connected with my economics degree, because interdisciplinary ideas overlap with many disciplines, and I found it to be very important and integral in my development of knowledge in economics as well.
In what ways did interdisciplinary studies connect with your economics studies?
Economics normally focuses on math and other stuff. But of course, it also includes social aspects. Back in the day, economists like Adam Smith and Marx were philosophers.
In Salem State’s economics program, you don't have a requirement for philosophy and related subjects, necessarily. But in the interdisciplinary program, you get to question more ideas about American society and the public, and how everyone relates with each other. That's very useful if you're trying to analyze something like public health and economics. It is integral for understanding the ideas and how to implement policy, for example.
How do you feel that the interdisciplinary studies program prepared you for your future career choices?
Right now, I am at UMass Boston in the Applied Economics program. I am a teaching assistant in a program that is not economics, but Africana Studies, which is still an interdisciplinary type of class. All of the lessons I hear the professor talk about, much like my interdisciplinary studies courses, I connect to my economics degree. I'm thinking, “Oh, that relates to this and that,” and that is important to think about.
Would you advise other students who are looking for maybe a second major to pursue interdisciplinary studies? Do you think it could be helpful in other areas?
Yes, I would say so. I would say if someone has a different interest, or even if not, try out a class or two. The major isn't restrictive, it's open-ended with many possibilities. Classes can essentially be tailored around anyone's specific interest within the requirements of the major of course. If they like it a lot, they might as well talk to a professor or other people in the program and see how they feel about it. It can be very enjoyable!
Everyone will find one or two things that may overlap with their program of choice. Also, because a lot of courses do overlap, it is not like you'll be taking an extreme amount of new classes.
Why did you choose the American Studies concentration?
In general, I think the American Studies concentration is related to everything I mentioned before, but for me, it is mainly focused on American society and how it relates to economics and people's decision-making, which is what the economics field is mainly about. We read about history, art, how people relate in society, so it is all very important.
Were there any favorite courses you had in the interdisciplinary studies program?
I found “Arts in America” with art + design Professor Gretchen Sinnett to be pretty interesting. We looked at different paintings and analyzed their significance, why they're made, and who they are made for.
What was it like to be a first-generation student?
I am the first one in my family to graduate and get a Bachelor’s degree and soon a Master’s, so I couldn't ask my mother or father or something, like, “how's college?” or stuff like that. I just kind of found my way.
Is there anything you miss at Salem State?
I love the campus. It was very, very nice and welcoming. Everyone there was great. I miss that.