Kirsten (Grorud) Noetzel '13

Kirsten (Grorud) Noetzel '13

Interdisciplinary Studies Program Graduate 

Integrated Disciplinary Areas: Theater + Gender Studies + Political Science

What is your current role?

I work full-time in theater as a freelance Teaching Artist, Acting Faculty, and Director. I am also a Master's candidate in Theatre at The University of Houston.

What was the topic of your final project?

My final project focused on the use of theater as an educational vehicle — more specifically, using an embodied medium of communication to create conversation about human sexuality development in a Christian context.

Why did you choose the IDS major at Wheaton?

I was drawn to IDS because it was, at the same time, the narrowest and broadest path of study. Narrowly, I was able to do deep, specific research on a topic of passion. Broadly, I was able to pursue upper-level coursework across multiple academic fields.

What benefits resulted from your participation in the IDS program?

The IDS program has made me into a bit of a chameleon professionally. Especially during my first few years out of school, I was grateful to be able to rotate leaning on one of my disciplinary areas more than another depending on what project I was working on. I find that the synthesis and research skills I learned in IDS have been what I draw on more than any single class from any of my integrated disciplinary areas.

How did Wheaton's IDS program prepare you for your current work?

IDS was where I learned how to think. I work in a field now that requires constant innovation and problem-solving. The diversity of freelancing means that in any given week, I have to answer questions such as: How can we expand audience engagement? How do you grow student enrollment? What are ways to teach the same artistic skills to neuro-diverse learners? How can we create an aesthetically-similar design element that costs less money or can be created at the last minute? IDS was where I learned that it’s not just okay, but necessary, to look outside of your “expertise silo” to find solutions to problems. I may work in theater, but I have been successful at it because I am willing to draw on economics, education, psychology, public health, political science, and so on. Being willing to cross disciplines or bring in a new perspective makes you the type of citizen who can keep adapting to new problems or questions within any job.

What would you say to someone who is considering the IDS major?

Don’t pursue IDS because you think it will open a particular career path; life is just not that linear. But if you want to learn how to think critically, develop a habit of innovating, and discipline yourself through deep research, then this is the best opportunity you will have to do this as an undergrad. I am regularly grateful that it's the path I took.