Liberal Studies B.A.
In the B.A. in liberal studies program, you will consult with the program director to develop a plan of study that incorporates courses from multiple disciplines relating to a topic or theme that you choose. In your senior seminar, you will complete a paper or project that ties your coursework together. For instance, you might want to use the social sciences, literature, history and natural sciences to investigate the role of the sea in shaping Rhode Island. Or you might want to use insights from art, the social sciences, history and philosophy to examine the role of art in social and political protest. Sciences, geography, economics and political science might be used to study the infrastructure crisis in the United States. The potential topics are unlimited.
As with all liberal arts majors, the precise topic you choose is as important as the skill set you acquire in your course of study. You will develop analytical and critical reasoning skills, effective oral and written communication and, in most cases, quantitative skills. These are transferrable skills that can be applied in a variety of contexts, prized by employers in all areas of business, industry and public service.
Upon completion of this program, students will:
- Demonstrate an appreciation of both the power and limitations of disciplinary perspectives.
- Be able to identify differences between and connections among different disciplinary domains.
- Utilize the perspectives, information resources and tools of inquiry of the humanities, arts, mathematics and behavioral, social and natural sciences to understand and evaluate evidence and ideas.
- Be able to integrate knowledge from disciplinary domains in an interdisciplinary perspective.
- Communicate effectively orally and in writing.
- Demonstrate the above skills in a capstone paper or project that integrates information from at least three disciplinary perspectives to produce an interdisciplinary understanding of a complex problem or intellectual question.
Writing in the Discipline
1. In what ways is writing important to your profession?
The B.A. in liberal studies is an interdisciplinary program in which students work with an advisor to select their major courses from among those offered by departments across the college. No matter which disciplines in math, science, arts, humanities or social sciences are focused upon, the student will need to acquire appropriate modes and strategies of writing for those fields. In the final project produced in LIBS 461, the student brings together knowledge, research strategies and appropriate forms of communication from a variety of disciplines.
2. Which courses are designated as satisfying the Writing in the Discipline (WID) requirement by your department? Why these courses?
LIBS 461 is the WID course for Liberal Studies. In this capstone course, the student draws on and extends the knowledge gained in previous courses to prepare an interdisciplinary project, which will typically be a paper of approximately 25 pages length.
In addition to LIBS 461, Liberal Studies majors may take one or more WID courses as part of the courses they must take from across the five disciplinary areas.
3. What forms or genres of writing will students learn and practice in your department’s WID courses? Why these genres?
LIBS 461 is taught as an independent study. The student works closely with an instructor selected for their expertise in areas related to the student’s interests. Depending on the project, one or two additional faculty members may be brought in as readers for the project. Because of the interdisciplinary focus, projects will vary from student to student, as will the forms and genres of writing employed. For instance, one student may write a traditional social science research paper, another may write an economic analysis of an industry, and another may engage in a creative writing project. Whatever the project, the student will be required to draw on multiple disciplines in their writing.
4. What kinds of teaching practices will students encounter in your department’s WID courses?
Because LIBS 461 is taught as an independent study, the specific teaching practices will vary from project to project. In most cases, however, students will work closely with their designated instructor, who will guide them through the various stages of the writing and research process (i.e. topic selection, drafting, revision, editing, publication, etc.).
5. When they’ve completed your department’s WID requirement, what should students know and be able to do with writing?
Students will be able to draw on insights from different fields and integrate them into a deeper understanding of an issue, question, or phenomenon.