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Student painting a self-portrait on sheet on floor in art class

Through Clark’s Program of Liberal Studies (PLS), you’ll learn to understand the world in diverse ways and to make vital connections across subjects.

PLS courses fall into two broad categories: Critical Thinking courses and Perspective courses. You are required to take eight PLS courses over four years — one course from each of the eight areas below — and your adviser will work with you to choose courses that match your interests.

Critical Thinking Courses

Critical Thinking courses are designed to help you cultivate the essential critical-thinking skills that you’ll use in every course at Clark and throughout your life. You will take one course in each of the following areas:

  • Verbal Expression (VE) courses, placing special emphasis on the relationship between writing and critical thinking.
  • Formal Analysis (FA) courses, introducing you to formal, symbolic methods of analysis.

Perspectives Courses

Perspectives courses introduce you to different ways of thinking, learning, and knowing in six disciplines. You will complete one course in each of the following areas, with each course taken in a different academic department:

  • Aesthetic Perspective (AP) courses, emphasizing artistic expression and the perception, analysis, and evaluation of aesthetic form, with the goal of enhancing your appreciation and understanding of the arts.
  • Global Comparative (GP) Perspective courses, introducing you to comparative analysis through the exploration of diverse cultures, political systems, or economic structures. You’ll examine similarities and differences in a global context, gaining the tools to analyze the human experience.
  • Historical Perspective (HP) courses, developing your capacity to understand the present in relation to the past. All courses are broad in scope and introduce you to the diverse ways scholars think about the past, present, and future.
  • Language and Culture Perspective (LP) courses, fostering the study of language as an expression of culture. You will take a course highlighting the relationship between language and culture.
  • Natural Scientific Perspective (SP) courses, teaching the principal methods and results of the natural sciences. Courses include laboratories or similar components to introduce you to methods for observing natural phenomena and the experimental nature of scientific study.
  • Values Perspective (VP) courses, examining the moral dimensions of human life. Courses 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.