Program of Liberal Studies

Core knowledge, broad capabilities

Through Clark’s Program of Liberal Studies (PLS), you’ll develop fundamental knowledge in a variety of disciplines and make vital connections across subjects — capacities that are crucial to success in today’s complex global economy.

The PLS is both structured and flexible. You’ll choose from a breadth of courses that strengthen your communication and critical-thinking skills and enable you to build valuable knowledge in vital areas, including history, the natural sciences, and language and culture. You’ll contemplate important questions faced by scholars, researchers, industries, and communities across history and throughout the world. You’ll expand your intellectual horizons, explore potential academic and career paths, and refine your interests.

Over your four years, you are required to take eight courses to fulfill PLS requirements. Once you get to campus, you will work with your adviser to choose courses to fulfill these specific PLS requirements. PLS courses fall into two categories: Critical Thinking courses and Perspectives courses.

1. Critical-Thinking Courses

The following courses are designed to help you cultivate your critical-thinking skills — skills you’ll use in every course at Clark. All students take one course in each of the following two areas:

  • Verbal Expression (VE) courses place special emphasis on the relationship between writing and critical thinking within a particular discipline. Sample courses: Introduction to Literature · Heart of a Poet, Heat of Poem · Writing: Sense of Place · Art and Science of Management · Modern Drama · Writing About Film
  • English as a Second Language (ESL): If English is not your first language you may be required to take an ESL course prior to enrolling in other writing courses.
  • Expository Writing: This is a standard, first-year college composition course. Placement in this course is based upon the evaluation of your writing sample.
  • Formal Analysis (FA) courses introduce students to the formal, symbolic language of a specific discipline, the rules of logic for that language, and the use of that language in practice. Sample courses: Calculus I · Linear Algebra · Introduction to Management Information Systems · Principles of Economics · Financial Intelligence · Discovering Environmental Science

2. Perspectives Courses

Perspectives courses offer breadth and introduce you to the different ways in which various disciplines or fields define thinking, learning, and knowing. You must successfully complete one course in each of the following six perspectives categories, with each course taken in a different academic department:

  • Aesthetic Perspective (AP) courses emphasize artistic expression and the perception, analysis, and evaluation of aesthetic form. These courses are designed to enhance your appreciation and understanding of the arts. Sample courses: Introduction to Graphic Design · Age of Michelangelo Drawing: Eye, Mind, Hand · Roman Art and Architecture · Jazz History · Creative Actor · Modern Dance
  • Global Comparative (GP) Perspective courses introduce you to comparative analysis by exploring diverse cultures, political systems, or economic structures throughout the world. You’ll examine similarities and differences in a global or international context, gaining the tools to analyze human experience. Sample courses: Economics and the World Economy · Health and the Urban Environment · Miracles of Asia · Introduction to Cultural Anthropology · Revolution and Political Violence · Global Society
  • Historical Perspective (HP) courses develop your capacity to understand the contemporary world in the larger framework of tradition and history. Courses focus on the problems of interpreting the past and may also examine the relationship between past and present. All courses are broad in scope and introduce you to the diverse ways scholars think critically about the past, present, and future. Sample courses: Survey of U.S. History to 1865 · History of Ancient Greek Philosophy · American Race and Ethnicity · History of American Broadcasting · Public Schools and Democracy
  • Language and Culture Perspective (LP) courses foster the study of language as an expression of culture. You may study foreign languages or take English-language courses, each of which highlight the relationship between language and culture. Sample courses: Intermediate Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese, French, or German · Readings in Hispanic Literature · French Popular Culture · Discourse, Self and Coolness
  • Natural Scientific Perspective (SP) courses teach the principal methods and results of the study of the natural world. Courses focus on the knowledge and theoretical bases of science. They also include laboratories or similar components to introduce you to methods for observing natural phenomena and the experimental nature of scientific study. Sample courses: Introduction to Biology · Introductory Chemistry · Biodiversity · Introduction to Computing · Exploring the Universe · Forensic Science · Oscillations, Waves and Optics
  • Values Perspective (VP) courses examine the moral dimension of human life as reflected in personal behavior, institutional structures, and public policy in local and global communities. Courses taught from the values perspective focus not only on the systematic formulation and analysis of moral and ethical claims, but also on how moral decisions affect both the individual and society. Sample courses: · Creating a Culture of Innovation · Holocaust: Agency and Action · Topics in Men and Emotion · Gender, War and Peace · Business Ethics and Law · Food Justice and Food Movements 

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