Southwestern University


Paideia—Southwestern’s interdisciplinary approach to education—is designed to develop the intellectual practice of identifying connections between the fundamental questions and ideas that shape our world. 


Francis Mathieu

Francis Mathieu

Professor & Director of Paideia


Olin 309
Francis Mathieu

Francis Mathieu

Professor & Director of Paideia


Paideia is the perfect embodiment of the liberal arts, empowering students to think in broader, more collaborative, more original ways.

  • Paideia is about connections, bringing together multiple perspectives from different disciplines. Over time, it develops a student’s ability to think critically, to make connections across different ways of knowing, and to create innovative solutions to complex problems.
  • Students engage in self-directed connections within all courses, across their major, between disciplines, and in relation to both in- and out-of-classroom experiences, such as community-engaged learning, intercultural learning, internships, student–faculty research, advanced language proficiency, and student-directed creative projects.
  • Students graduate with a cultivated curiosity and desire to learn, explore, and create change. These are the valuable, real-life skills that make SU graduates highly sought-after by recruiters, employers, and the nation’s top graduate programs.


Paideia in Action

  • Measuring the Light of the Universe

    Undergraduates engage in astrophysical research at Southwestern’s Fountainwood Observatory.

  • Full STEAM Ahead

    Paideia Scholar Lauren Muskara ’21 champions making connections between science, technology, and the fine arts.

  • Countering Terrorism through Research

    Meili Criezis ’17 publishes scholarship about extremist rhetoric, terrorist propaganda, and political violence.

  • The Wheel’s Still in Spin

    First-generation college student and English major Delilah Dylan Dominguez ’09 has three graduate degrees to her name and is now a practicing physician assistant.

  • A Close-Knit Community

    Faculty, staff, and STEM majors crocheted together virtually all year, culminating in an on-campus exhibit and a new student organization.

  • Computers and Creativity

    Anna Krolikowski ’20 sees creativity and story as the common denominators of her English and computer science majors.

  • A World Traveler

    Fulbright Scholar Brielle Read ’20 has been traveling the world and making a difference since the tender age of 14.

  • COVID Creativity and Communication

    Southwestern STEM students combine science, art, and community engagement in collaborative SciArt projects.

  • Chasing Curiosities

    For Zack Nesbit ’13, a life worth living means always learning and never compromising one’s passions.

  • Shakespeare across Time, Languages, and Disciplines

    Associate Professor of Theatre Sergio Costola and Associate Professor of English Michael Saenger coordinated a seminar on translating Shakespeare at an international conference in Rome.

  • Baroque Economic Beauty

    Southwestern undergraduates explore the beauty of global economics through artful data visualization.

  • The Science and Art of Salamanders

    Kira McEntire ’13 explores creative expression while teaching and researching wildlife biology.

  • Southwestern Alum and Math Faculty Win Prizes for Coauthored Paper

    Robert Lehr ’15 and Professor of Mathematics Fumiko Futamura receive the Carl B. Allendoerfer Award