Student dancing in dance studio

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 — capacities that are crucial to success in today’s complex global economy.

PLS courses will strengthen your communication and critical-thinking skills and enable you to build valuable knowledge in essential areas, including history, the natural sciences, and language and culture. You’ll address important questions faced by scholars, researchers, and government and industry leaders, across history and throughout the world. And you’ll expand your intellectual horizons, explore potential career paths, and refine your interests.

You are required to take eight PLS courses over four years, and your adviser will work with you to choose courses that match your interests. PLS courses fall into two categories: Critical Thinking courses and Perspectives courses.

These 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. 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.
    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
    Based on your writing placement, you may be required to take one or both of the following:

    • English as a Second Language (ESL)
    • Expository Writing
  • Formal Analysis (FA) courses introduce students to formal, symbolic methods of analysis.
    Sample courses: Calculus I · Linear Algebra · Introduction to Management Information Systems · Principles of Economics · Financial Intelligence · Discovering Environmental Science

Perspectives courses introduce you to different ways of thinking, learning, and knowing in six different disciplines. You must complete one course in each of the following 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 will 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 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.
    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 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.
    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 highlights 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 natural sciences. Courses 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 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.
    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