Innovating, integrating, and influencing

A science program for the 21st century


  • Sarah L. Symons McMaster University
  • Chad T. Harvey
  • Carolyn H. Eyles



McMaster University’s Honours Integrated Science Program (iSci) was the first 4-year integrated science degree program in Canada. It is research-based, both in its pedagogical design as well as in how the students learn in program. This chapter will describe the development, delivery, refinement, and achievements of iSci since before the first cohort were accepted (2009) up to the present. We approach this through the lens of influence—the influences on the program and the program’s influence on external programs and approaches, highlighting the program as a pedagogically innovative and ground-breaking undergraduate science degree. We will concentrate upon four main areas that are indicative of iSci’s innovative structure and approach: (a) the way we achieve and embody integration and interdisciplinarity with our custom pedagogical model; (b) our focus on communication and collaboration—between students and across cohorts, between instructors through active co-teaching, as well as openly among students and instructors; (c) the role and results of science literacy (in its broadest definition) being at the core of the program; and (d) the expected and emergent results of our decade-long, longitudinal pedagogical research study. The development of the iSci Program is iterative and on-going; it integrates influences and innovations, both internal and external, responding to the changing interests and needs of students, instructors, and the global landscape of higher education.