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Liberal Studies Program Philosophy

"To prepare all students for effective participation in today's society, we need a contemporary curriculum bridging the arts and sciences and the professional disciplines, connecting past to future and theory to experience, providing the basis for conversation across cultural differences and professional specialization, and developing the capacity for critical inquiry and understanding."

Liberal Arts Education for a Global Society. Carol M. Barker, Carnegie Corporation of New York, 2000.


Unlike traditional graduate programs, liberal studies programs nationwide are neither research-oriented nor practice-oriented (although a degree candidate's research and practice may each benefit from the advanced liberal arts education such programs provide). Rather, liberal studies programs follow the philosophy that "specialization, though necessary to a certain extent, has created an overly fragmented view of the world….that academic disciplines isolated from one another also create an overly fragmented view of the world….[and] that disciplines must share insights and methodologies to create a more holistic view of life" (Guzman, Richard, Integrating Knowledge and Action: A Workbook for Graduate Liberal Studies Programs, Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs, 1996; p. 1). In short, liberal studies programs are designed to provide a multidisciplinary liberal arts education.

This multidisciplinary character is ensured in three ways at The College at Brockport. First, each student's Plan of Study includes three Liberal Studies Seminars, each representing one of the following disciplinary approaches to knowledge: arts and humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Second, each seminar itself utilizes perspectives that go beyond the course's central disciplinary focus (e.g., a humanities seminar may be primarily a literature course, but might require reflections from the disciplines of philosophy, political science, sociology, etc.). Third, a combination of electives that represent a focused area of interest are chosen by advisement.

In his analysis of liberal studies programs, Guzman indicated that beyond core requirements, "two factors are most critical in the development of a coherent program of electives: 1) a student's interests and needs, and 2) a pattern of course election consistent with significant integration of one's learning and…achieving broader perspectives" (Guzman, p. 11). In this spirit, the Liberal Studies program at The College at Brockport is tailored to meet each student's personal and professional goals. That is, each student's Plan of Study is developed (through advisement) on an individual basis. Although various Plans of Study may reflect common thematic objectives (e.g., women's studies, developing knowledge and skills that will improve one's effectiveness as a history teacher, international conflict, etc.), the specific courses making up the Plans of Study may vary considerably from student to student. Nevertheless, the program provides a common set of objectives for all its degree candidates. These include:

  • An understanding of the multidisciplinary nature of knowledge and an appreciation of the value of a multidisciplinary approach to scholarship.
  • A multidisciplinary course of study for the student seeking intellectual development, personal enrichment, and the benefits of an advanced liberal arts education.
  • An examination of significant ideas and contemporary issues from the perspectives of the fine arts, humanities, social and natural sciences.
  • An integrative educational experience addressing the student's personal and professional goals.
  • A deeper understanding of self, nature, and society.
  • Opportunities to sharpen critical thinking and communication skills.

Last Updated 1/28/13