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2012-2013 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

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Liberal Studies - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies section in this catalog.

Chair: Burns-Ardolino. Professors: Ford, Whipps; Associate Professor: Burns-Ardolino; Assistant Professors: Drewel, Hussain, King, Peterson, Shell-Weiss; Affiliate Professors: Fauvel, Krohmer, Lake, Maodush-Pitzer, Petitbone, Povolo, Wolverton.


The liberal studies major provides an alternative and individualized approach to higher education. It allows students to custom-design a significant portion of their degree around a topic or theme (called an Emphasis Area), in consultation with a liberal studies advisor. The liberal studies major is distinctive in that it is centered on liberal education as a developmental practice that helps us become our genuine selves. It is distinctive in integrating that personal pursuit with career goals. The major provides a context in which the individual student can address educational needs, and engage a rich intellectual heritage, while pursuing a variety of interdisciplinary and/or career-relevant specializations.

Career Opportunities

Liberal studies emphasis areas do not need to be career related, but liberal education and career education do not conflict. An education that emphasizes the ability to think critically and to synthesize divergent points of view is the best kind of career preparation. It is career preparation informed by an understanding of context, and of historic, cross-cultural, and ethical perspectives. It is career preparation that promotes flexibility, which is critically important as career shifts become more and more typical in our working lives.

The vitality of the liberal studies major arises from a vigorous dialogue between individual interests and a tradition of inquiry and questioning. This dialogue is a conversational relationship out of which creative work occurs. It is from this same relationship that we emerge as alert and effective human beings.


Prospective majors should choose an advisor who will work with them during their years in the program to develop coherent study plans, to choose effectively from among general education offerings, and to consider career paths or graduate schools. Substantial information, forms, guidance, and resources are also available on the departmental website at

Student Organizations

There are two registered student organizations for liberal studies majors: The Interdisciplinary Studies Student Organization (LSSO) and the Traverse City Liberal Studies Student Organization (TC Libs). Potential majors may find it helpful to dialogue with current majors. Meeting times and events connected with these two organizations vary. Please check the departmental website for details.

Liberal Studies in Holland

The liberal studies department, in partnership with continuing education and Grand Rapids Community College, now offer an adult degree completion program through the Meijer Campus in Holland. See the website, for more information.

Liberal Studies in Muskegon

Muskegon Community College and Grand Valley State University have collaborated to provide a degree completion program at one convenient location. After completion of an Associate of Science and Arts or the MACRAO program (plus selected foundation courses) at Muskegon Community College, students will begin degree completion courses through Grand Valley State University.

Grand Valley State University courses will be offered in a cohort fashion. Aside from the required core courses in the liberal studies major, students will choose between courses specific to organizations and leadership. Students will customize remaining coursework to coincide with their individual needs and interests. See for more information.

Liberal Studies in Traverse City

The Liberal Studies Department, in partnership with continuing education and Northwestern Michigan College, now offer an adult degree completion program in Traverse City. Students design a program that suits their specific interests, talents, and career goals. Working closely with a faculty advisor, students will develop a major area of study based on a specific theme, issue, problem, or career interest. The Traverse City program provides the liberal studies core courses and a selection of electives that may apply to your emphasis area. Students will combine coursework transferred from NMC, other community colleges, or four year institutions to complete the degree requirements.

The following program is available:

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies

If you are in need of assistance please submit any questions or comments.