Liberal Studies courses and programs draw on a rich and varied content from the liberal arts and sciences, treated in an integrated, interdisciplinary manner. The courses are team-taught by instructors from a wide range of academic backgrounds, forming with students a learning community whose guiding principle is mutual aid. The prime mode of delivery is the participatory seminar, in which students can develop the general employability skills so prized in today's job market.
A Range of Courses
The Liberal Studies first-year courses, LBST 111 & 112, provide an introduction to interdisciplinary study focusing on the development of basic academic and employability skills. They are open to all students and satisfy the Degree English Requirement. LBST 211 & 212, also open to all students, extend this introduction into the artistic and scientific realms.
The Liberal Studies Major and Minor programs are normally entered at the third-year level. However, accelerated entry in second year is available to those who have demonstrated competence in writing and critical thinking during their first year (see the prerequisites for third-year courses below). The core 6-credit courses involve the analysis of interesting and significant works (in literature, philosophy, theology, science, social science, art and music), and all four courses together ensure a varied and deep exposure to the western cultural tradition from ancient times to the present day. The 3-credit upper-level courses include laboratories, enquiry seminars, art and music workshops, trips to special events and opportunities for travel-study. They support the understanding, gathered in the core courses, of a particular historical period, and are usually taken at the same time as the corresponding core course; they may, however, be taken independently and as upper-level electives.
Liberal Studies Abroad
The Department also runs Liberal Studies Abroad: a summer-session program allowing students to take a variety of courses which involve a field school overseas. These courses can also be used towards a Minor or Major in Liberal Studies.
What Will I Learn in Liberal Studies?
The tone of all courses is deliberately generalist rather than specialized, and instructors are committed to interdisciplinary study and the principles of active learning, in which students share responsibility for course content and for their own learning. The result is a diverse and vibrant intellectual community in which students and instructors work co-operatively in small groups. Learning occurs primarily through discussion around the seminar table, and in tutorials where students work together on improving their writing skills.
The program as a whole devotes special attention to developing a firm foundation of intellectual and communicative skills: careful reading, creative and critical thinking, historical and social perspective, expository and creative writing, library research, scientific analysis, public speaking, group discussion and teamwork. Not only are these skills crucial to becoming a fully educated person; they have also been identified as essential for a successful worklife in today's and tomorrow's economy.
In short, Liberal Studies offers the kind of education which makes a permanent and valuable contribution to an individual's life, within or without the workplace. Many graduates have gone on to graduate and professional schools, in law, architecture, public administration, education, marine archaeology, communications, MBA programs, medieval studies, 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. A Liberal Studies Major or Minor can be a good complement to other Majors and Minors offered at VIU.