Synthesis Program

Seventh College



Staff Contact: Jessica Pham,


The Seventh College Synthesis Program encourages students to approach complex global issues from an interdisciplinary perspective. The program consists of three courses. The first two, SYN 1 and SYN 2, are writing-intensive, and the third, SYN 100, is project-based. All three courses provide a mix of individual and group work and require students to draw upon the knowledge, skills and expertise gained in other coursework to address the challenges posed by our changing planet.


SYN 1. Perspectives on a Changing Planet: Synthesis 1 introduces students to the methods, challenges and rewards of working across disciplines and models interdisciplinary thinking by using a variety of disciplinary perspectives to enhance students’ understanding of our changing planet. Students also are asked to engage in interdisciplinary thinking through the course assignments.

SYN 2. Explorations of a Changing Planet: Synthesis 2 builds upon the skills developed in Synthesis 1 by introducing research methods, culminating in an interdisciplinary research paper that students design around the changing planet topics addressed in the course and each student’s own interests.

SYN 100. Solutions for a Changing Planet: Synthesis 100 is a project-based course that builds on skills developed in Synthesis 1 and Synthesis 2 by taking a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to solving complex problems.


Teaching Assistant Appointments

TA appointments in the Synthesis Program are year-long and usually renewable.

TAs for SYN 1 and SYN 2 work under the guidance of the Director of the Synthesis Program, but are the sole instructors in the classroom, teaching small seminars of 15 students. To support the TAs, the Program Director will create a common syllabus, learning objectives and writing assignments, and distribute shared teaching materials and suggested lesson plans. TA responsibilities include implementing the course syllabus, teaching assigned sections, commenting on drafts of student papers, assigning grades, holding office hours, attending staff meetings, and using UC San Diego’s learning management system.

SYN 100 has a large-lecture format and is taught by faculty from across campus, with each offering focusing on a different challenge posed by the changing planet. TAs for SYN 100 attend lecture and, under the direction of the Director of the Synthesis Program, support teams of students as they work on projects designed to address the challenges posed by a changing planet.

In SYN 1 and SYN 2, a TA with a 50 percent appointment teaches two seminars, each with 15 students, and in SYN 100, a TA with a 50 percent appointment leads two sections, each with 20 students. For all three courses, responsibilities average out to 20 hours per week.

IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS FOR 2020-21 ACADEMIC YEAR: In Fall 2020, in lieu of teaching, TAs will take a seminar on key changing planet topics and pedagogy, and, in the Winter and Spring, TAs will teach SYN 1. The first offering of SYN 2 will be in Fall 2021, and the first offering of SYN 100 will be in Fall 2022.

rev. 3/25/20