Honors History: the Early Years

By Rick Kamins, Integrated Studies class of 1973-74

The summer before starting my freshman year in 1973, I received a letter from the UC Davis admissions department, asking if I wanted to be part of a small program by the unusual name of "Integrated Studies." If I accepted, I would live in the same dorm with the other students in the program and we would take core courses together the first year.  With minimal knowledge of this program, I decided to apply. Like the jump I took decades later when I went skydiving, it was a blind leap of faith into unknown territory, praying for a good outcome. Thankfully, both were great life experiences.

Integrated Studies later became the Integrated Studies Honors Program (ISHP), and more recently was renamed and restructured into UC Davis's University Honors Program (UHP). Analogous to the anachronistic use of the phrase, "tape a TV show" or "he hung up on me," when current students in UHP hear the term "Integrated Studies," it is probably devoid of its original meaning. The concept of the initial program was to demonstrate how seemingly disparate fields of study were actually intimately connected. We took courses from professors who not only provided important information about the subject material they were teaching, but spent time explaining how religion, US history, art, English and physics, for instance, impacted one another.

By living together in Tercero B Building, our social lives and classroom lives were also integrated. All my friends in my first year at UC Davis were in the Integrated Studies Program. For me, Integrated Studies turned UC Davis from a large state school into a small liberal arts college. I knew my professors personally; my classes were not lectures, but discourse; and my classmates were my buddies. 

Rick Kamins with Itegrated Studies students and friends, 1973-74
Rick Kamins (slightly above others in second row) with Integrated Studies students and friends, (1973-74). First row (left to right): Mark Schapiro, Sue Childs, Anne Marie Ziomak, Sue Adler (lower than others in front row), and Sue Fry.  Second row: Maura Metz, Rick Stampler, and Dave "Goags" (we called him Goags because he often wore a button on his hat that said, "Go Ags.")  Third row: Joan Gori, Brian McQueeney, Mary Ellen Sanders, and Joan Meyer (on the far right), who is the Chancellor's daughter.

Looking for a similar experience to Integrated Studies, I gravitated toward American Studies--another innovative, intimate, and intellectually provocative program. Although my plan upon entering UC Davis was to major in psychology and become a psychologist, I decided without much hesitation to double major in both Psychology and American Studies.

I later earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and became a practicing psychologist. Among other professional activities, for the past 25 years I have taught University of Colorado psychology interns a course on Outcome-Oriented Psychotherapy. In the first class of this seminar, I mention to my students that there are over 500 distinct schools of psychotherapy. However, because most of these approaches share similar major concepts and beliefs--their differences are more cosmetic than fundamental--there are really only about three to four major models of psychotherapy or what I refer to as paradigms.  (Apropos, I learned of the term "paradigm" in Prof. Ken Greider's Integrated Studies class, Introduction to Physics when we read Thomas Kuhn's book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.) 

I practice what I teach: My approach to therapy is utilizing an amalgam of these paradigms.  Research has shown that outcomes are better when therapists incorporate different approaches, rather than relying on one method or strategy. Meshing seemingly disparate aspects of different therapy models allows me to tailor treatment to fit the specific needs and preferences of my clients, and thus offer more effective ways to help them overcome their problems. Integration.

Over forty years away from Integrated Studies, its lessons and influence still impact my life – and not merely how I practice my profession. You see, my wife of 34 years, was a fellow Integrated Studies classmate.

Did you participate in one of the early years of Integrated Studies? Please share your stories and photos with us!