BDIC Faculty and Staff



Hello BDIC Alumni!

Linda Roney

I retired at the end of this last December as BDIC assistant director and chief academic advisor. I cherished every moment of my 23 years at BDIC help­ing students actualize their dreams and watching BDIC evolve.

When I first began working at BDIC in 1997, we were hidden away in the dark and dusty basement of Bartlett Hall. At that time BDIC was an underfunded, fringe major with little prestige in the university’s eyes. It was hard to understand since we had the most creative and impressive students on campus. In those days BDIC didn’t offer any classes. With no proposal class, stu­dents came into the office on a one-to-one basis and worked through their concentra­tion ideas with an advisor.

When BDIC moved to Goodell it became much more high profile. We were nestled together with Undergraduate Advising and other advising units. The student popula­tion exploded. We started offering our own classes. How many of you remember that first proposal class with about 100 students packed into the middle room of Goodell? We began offering large alumni events at which students showcased their work often using the entire sixth floor of Goodell. Does anyone remember the event when one of our students used the old library stacks to showcase her art installation? Or the one with a fashion show put on by a design student, complete with models and a hair stylist? Or the time when some of our musi­cians performed Brazilian jazz late into the night? Over the years BDIC sponsored so many amazing events: alumni forums, guest speakers (including Tom Benedek, screen­play writer and first graduate of BDIC), and even an international advising confer­ence for self-designed majors at which our peer advisors presented.

In 2015, BDIC moved into office space in the Commonwealth Honors College, a small but state of the art, mostly glass space. There BDIC became even more high profile and prestigious. Many students were coming to UMass Amherst just to do BDIC. Our students were finally recog­nized as the stars on campus.

Throughout my glorious years at BDIC we were always a family. It was kind of amazing that our students were all doing such different things and yet there was this strong link between them. I don’t remember having difficult students. They (you) were all truly good people. We stuck together; we were positive; we had a spirit and a pride I don’t think any other major has.

When COVID-19 shut everything down it was such a loss. We lost out on 2020 graduation, the alumni reunion we had planned, and most of all those won­derful moments we had spent meeting in person. We lost a little slice of our lives, but it made me, at least, appreciate how very precious our time together had been and how fortunate I was to have been able to work with you over the years. Thank you for all the joy and fulfillment you brought to my life. I will never forget you. I will always love you!


Rebecca Schwartz

Rebecca assumed the role of BDIC assistant direc­tor in December 2020. She was first introduced to BDIC after her son, Nate, graduated from the pro­gram in 2016. Rebecca has her master’s degree in building design from Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, she is a grassroots animal rights activist, and she is co-owner of the local cafe, Cushman Market and Café in North Amherst. She loves working closely with the BDIC students and is looking forward to spearheading initiatives to promote networking and community-building.


Sharon Kearney

Dr. Sharon Kearney is a lecturer in the University Without Walls (UWW) division of UMass Amherst, where she cur­rently teaches the Essentials of Online Teaching course and lectures in pedagogy for technology-mediated learning. Her education has been interdisci­plinary by design: she has a PhD in education and technology from Trinity College Dublin, a master’s in teaching and gender/cultural studies from Simmons University, and a bachelor’s in English and Spanish from Providence College. Dr. Kearney has taught and advised students of multiple levels and lectured on a range of courses, from Computers & Society to English Pedagogy. She has researched and published in the areas of innovative pedagogies; English teaching, new literacies and gender; research instruments; and problem- and design-based learning.


BDIC 192: Complex Questions, Multidisciplinary Investigations is an introduction to multi­disciplinary and interdisciplinary studies. Students—through reading, writing and discus­sion—explore real-world issues, such as the cost of higher education, food scarcity, and climate change. Students engage in guided research tra­versing multiple disciplines and collaborate to investigate complex problems and identify poten­tial solutions. This course focuses on building several keys skills necessary for success in col­lege: critical reading, analytical writing, research, problem solving, presentation, and collaboration. There is also ample opportunity to explore and investigate issues that are particularly important to students, and to find, propose and present solutions to those problems.


Lydia Peterson

Lydia Peterson is a lecturer in BDIC where she currently teaches BDIC 494I: Integration and Innovation.  She has advanced degrees from UMass Amherst in both English and Education, and earned her BA in English from the University of Michigan. She has over 20 years of experience teaching at the college and high school levels as well as working at college writing centers, both in the US and abroad. She has also helped several scholars prepare their manuscripts for publication. But, Lydia’s primary interest is to help BDIC students make sense of their education and to look toward the future with their unique BDIC degree in hand!


BDIC has a history of hosting incubator programs and is currently offering a new track in film studies.

Film studies faculty members Professor Barbara Zecchi; Professor and Director of Film Studies Barry Spence; Chief Academic Advisor, Undergraduate Program Director and Professor Daniel Pope; have established an interdepartmental program with BDIC as a step to creating a standalone program.

As of fall 2020, the Interdepartmental Program in film studies has been administering and supervising a film studies major as a structured concentration within BDIC. The collaborative arrangement between the program in film studies and BDIC furthers both programs’ central emphasis on the importance of interdisciplinarity, and this is reflected in the curricular structure and requirements. This synergy has proved to be quite successful! About 50 students have chosen this concentration. For more information about this initiative please check our website: film/film-studies-major.

BDIC’s long tradition of housing incubator pro­grams has launched legal studies; social thought and political economy; computer science; public health; women, gender, sexuality studies; and informatics.

Hear from HFA Dean Barbara Krauthamer about film studies, BDIC's new interdepartmental program: umass. edu/film/video/dean-barbara-krauthamers-opening-remarks-roif-awards-2021