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Liberal Studies – A Civil Society

liberal studies degree

“A liberal education is at the heart of a civil society, and at the heart of a liberal education is the act of teaching.”  —A. Bartlett Giamatti

What comes to mind when you think of a successful person? A deeply read, well taught and tactical individual? Someone who is hands-on, involved and skilled? To succeed in the modern professional environment, a person might need to be all of these things at one point or another. In a world that is speeding up, flattening out and growing smaller with every update, the value of a well-rounded individual is higher than it has ever been before.

Earning a degree in liberal studies is a way for people who are passionate about the world—not just a single aspect of it—to begin to synthesize systematically the information they learn and put it to use. When taught under the classical liberal studies model, graduates are better equipped to understand and analyze the complex challenges of the 21st century. Increasingly, hiring managers seek candidates who possess liberal arts skills, and recent studies show they would recommend this type of education to someone entering college as well. That is just one reason CLS is proud to be home to the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies, the first interdisciplinary program of its kind.

What is liberal studies?

When entering the workforce, an individual can now expect to change careers several times throughout his or her working life. Professional lives come in phases that reflect the advancement and interests of the people who pursue them—two things that will almost certainly change several times over the course of a lifetime. The possibilities are endless when people are no longer limited by location. Not surprisingly, flexibility, critical thinking, problem solving and the ability to articulate one’s own ideas and understand how they interact with the ideas of others have become critical aspects of success in the professional world. They are also core tenets of a degree in liberal studies.

Liberal studies is so called not because it reflects a particular ideology. Rather, the opposite is often true. Liberal studies degrees combine the study of the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences to understand how they interact. A liberal studies student will have knowledge of all of these subjects and, most importantly, be able to recognize how each piece builds upon the other as part of a larger whole. Quite simply, these individuals possess the keys to decipher the complicated code that is the world around us, and the writing and communication skills to then share that knowledge with others.

Liberal Studies at CLS

In the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies degree program at CLS, students are introduced to topics across several areas of study. Courses in the program generally fall into the humanities, natural sciences or social sciences, and then draw upon influences from outside disciplines to provide context and further explanation. This is the heart of what it means to be “interdisciplinary.” Each discipline works together (intertwined, in a way) toward one answer or solution. By studying a variety of topics, students become familiar with the vocabularies, strategic thinking and current knowledge of several areas of interest rather than being limited to just one specialty or focus.

The program allows students to choose an area of study they find interesting or beneficial to them professionally, as long as an interdisciplinary focus governs that study. The variety of courses might at first seem unrelated, but they ultimately teach students how to think critically and understand all of the resources at their disposal. Students are then encouraged to use tools from a variety of disciplines to solve problems they face in class as well as in their daily lives. Repeating this exercise over time helps transform them into critical thinkers. Their ability to access and evaluate information from many sources synergistically also makes them an incredible asset for future employers. The value of the skill cannot be stressed enough.

The goals of CLS’ liberal studies degree program are ambitious. We want to empower students to be goal oriented and to achieve their professional dreams, but we also want to cultivate students who are learning-oriented critical thinkers. We do this by giving them the practical knowledge, theoretical foundation and interdisciplinary toolset not currently available in many specialized education programs. Our graduates leave the program better equipped to understand and analyze the complex issues and challenges of the 21st century and to become valuable assets to their communities.

Learn more about earning your liberal studies degree at CLS.

Mary Wuestewald
Mary Wuestewald specializes in digital and content marketing at OU Outreach. In 2015, she earned a master's degree in Strategic Communication from OU’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication. She currently contributes to Insight magazine, the CLS blog and CLS social media efforts.

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