The liberal studies major provides an option in which students can pursue interdisciplinary studies and can reach across divisional lines to draw on the academic resources of the entire Grand Valley campus. It is appropriate as a major for students who wish to

  • Organize their studies around problems, issues, and themes rather than around the traditional disciplines; for example, the nature of work, the relationship between religion and society, or community organization.
  • Emphasize a particular interdisciplinary area of study; for example, women's studies, American studies, or history of science.
  • Concentrate simultaneously on a general education and a particular academic discipline or career area.

Many students choose the liberal studies major as preparation for graduate school.


The History of Liberal Studies


The Liberal Arts Tradition

Because the Liberal Studies Department integrates the resources and expertise of all Grand Valley's departments, majoring in Liberal Studies makes the university available as a whole and provides a context in which undergraduate education in the liberal arts tradition can be addressed, discussed, and practiced as a unit.

The program rests on four basic educational principles and commitments:

  1. That theoretical or abstract studies need to be useful in relation to actual life situations and developmental processes; and that liberal studies need to be resources for life development.
  2. That learning how to learn is an important byproduct of any adequate course of study in higher education; and that cultivation of the habit of learning and the development of educational independence are fundamental goals.
  3. That problems and issues in the world, life tasks, and themes in human experience are sometimes more appropriate principles for the organization of education than are the traditional disciplines.
  4. That one major aim of education is the achievement of integration, and that this aim can be facilitated through interdisciplinary studies.


The Study Plan

Working closely with a faculty advisor, each liberal studies student develops a written study plan that enhances general academic skills, provides depth in one or more areas of academic or professional expertise, and helps define and meet the student's personal academic goals. The study plan must include a minimum of 45 semester credits.

Page last modified June 19, 2013