The Liberal Studies Difference
Liberal Studies offers a significant alternative to traditional degrees in a single discipline. It draws its rich content from the humanities, arts and sciences, and treats it in a way which brings out the connections between different disciplines. Courses are team taught by professors from a wide range of academic backgrounds, who form with students a community intent on maximizing the learning of all. In participatory seminars students develop skills in communication and critical thinking so prized in graduate school and in the professions of tomorrow.
What is Liberal Studies?
- A critical and creative exploration of important issues raised by the most influential works of Western culture.
- A vibrant learning community of students and professors, who investigate together alternative conceptions of the universe and our place in it.
- A forum for active learning which does not rely on the work of so-called experts, but challenges students to develop their own understanding.
- An examination of current realities against the fascinating backdrop of the last three thousand years.
- Education of the whole person, through the promotion of crucial skills in communication (oral and written), teamwork, self-reliance, critical analysis and creative expression - skills at a premium in today's workplace.
Who Would Want to Take Liberal Studies?
The Liberal Studies Major is not for students who have decided in advance that their educational goal is a career in a single narrow discipline. Even these students, however, have much to gain from the rigorous skill-training and general cultural awareness they will receive by pursuing a Minor in Liberal Studies or by taking some Liberal Studies courses as electives.
The Liberal Studies Major is for you if:
- you do not want to confine yourself to a traditional discipline, but want a more general education in which the relationships among various disciplines are explored;
- you want to complement your work in a traditional discipline with a broad understanding of its context and relevance;
- your goal is a career in law, public service, architecture, business, art, the media, education or any of a host of alternative where a broad education is recognized as an important asset.
Many possibilities for graduate study will also be open to those who combine a Major in Liberal Studies with one in a specialized discipline. Our students have gone on to postgraduate and professional study in law, architecture, public administration, education, marine archaeology, communications, folklore studies, English, history, women's studies, philosophy and so on, usually without having to complete a qualifying year. A certain number proceed to Post-Degree Programs in elementary or secondary education, and many are working in ESL and adult education.
Programs and Courses in Liberal Studies
The Liberal Studies first-year courses, LBST 111/112, provide an introduction to interdisciplinary study focusing on the development of basic academic skills. They are open to all students and satisfy the Degree English Requirement. Second-year courses allow students to explore some more concentrated topics without taking upper-level classes.
Liberal Studies Major and Minor Programs: Students with third-year standing who wish to complete either program in two years may take LBST 360 concurrently with either LBST 250 or LBST 350.
Prior to year 3, students will consult with a degree advisor to declare their degree intentions. The Major and Minor in Liberal Studies are based around a series of three 6-credit courses, a 3-credit capstone course, a choice between a 3-credit field placement or 3-credit major essay, and a set of adjunct 3-credit courses. The 6-credit core courses involve the analysis of interesting and significant works (in literature, philosophy, theology, science, social science, art and music), and all three courses together ensure a varied and deep exposure to the Western cultural tradition from ancient times to the present day. These core courses tend to cover time periods in a chronological fashion and students should try to take them in the following order: either LBST 250 or LBST 350, then LBST 360, and then LBST 370. The program culminates in a capstone course that brings primary texts from the core courses into conversation with contemporary thinkers on a shared theme. From there, students may choose between the field placement course, giving students opportunities to use program-related skills in volunteer work; and the major essay course, which guides students in the writing of a major research paper. The 3-credit adjunct courses include laboratories, enquiry seminars, art and music workshops, trips to special events and opportunities for travel-study. They further inquiry into themes explored in the core courses.
Major Program: The first core course for a Liberal Studies major can be taken at either the 2nd year level (LBST 250) or third-year level (LBST 350). Subsequently, students take the remaining 6-credit core courses, and in the fourth year, the capstone course and either one of the field placement and major essay courses. Students taking LBST 250 must also complete at least four 3-credit adjunct courses, which may be taken at any time; students taking LBST 350 must also complete at least two 3-credit adjunct courses, which may be taken at any time.
Accelerated Entry: Students who have attained a mark of B- in any course in Liberal Studies, Philosophy or English may enter the third-year core courses after having completed 24 credits, i.e. with second year standing.
Minor Program: The main purpose for the Minor program is to offer students a chance to experience a significantly different form of pedagogy for part of their undergraduate career. The Liberal Studies focus on basic academic/employability skills will be of value to those who take even a part of the program. Furthermore, the availability of a Minor will offer students who decide, in mid-career, not to complete a Liberal Studies Major an identifiable credential which marks their achievement in Liberal Studies. Students completing the Liberal Studies Minor will take all three 6-credit core courses. Students who take LBST 250 must also take an additional six credits of any upper-level Liberal Studies courses.
Liberal Studies Courses as Electives in Other Programs: Liberal Studies courses are open to all students who meet their prerequisites (see individual LBST course descriptions for prerequisite details). As such they will provide a generalist complement to the disciplinary experience acquired elsewhere.