H = Humanities course  (at least 2 are required)
SS= Social Science course (at least 2 are required)
X = Non-western, gender, minorities course (at least 1 is required)

Academic concentrations are not required, but if you would like to have this designation on your record you must take four classes in one area and complete a capstone project in the same area.
Available concentrations:
1. Philosophy and Religion (PR)
2. World History and Politics (WHP)
3. American Studies (AS)
4. Creative Arts and Literature (CAL)
5.  Health, Wellness, and the Good Life (HWGL)


Introduction to Graduate Liberal Studies
Tina Krafton

This required 7-week course for all new MALS students is an introduction to the MALS philosophy of interdisciplinarity, an introduction to resources for academic research at the Rutgers Library, and a refresher on the elements of academic writing through exercises, discussion, and peer reviews.

56:606:534 (H, SS, AS)
Studies of the 20th Century:   History, Culture, and Politics of the 1960s

Martin Clemis 

The 1960s is a decade that still looms large in the American psyche. From the war in Vietnam to the rise of the counterculture movement to the struggle for social justice and civil rights, the period continues to capture the public’s imagination as a period of immense political, social, and cultural tumult. This class examines the “long” 1960s and situates this pivotal period within the larger context of post-war America, a time when Americans wrestled with issues of profound national importance and when American values and the American way of life were not only severely challenged – both at home and abroad – but subject to sweeping transformation. This course will explore this volatile and highly important period predominantly through the lens of American politics, society, and culture. However, it will situate the profound changes in America’s political, social, and cultural landscapes within the context of a wider world, touching upon the nation’s role as a global superpower and exploring issues.

Required book:

David Farber. The Age of Great Dreams: America in the 1960s. New York: Hill and Wang, 1994. 



56:606:541 (SS, X, AS)
Studies of Cultural Diversity:   History of Immigration, Race, and Identity in the United States
Loni Bramson

This course analyzes in a comparative manner the historical and current experiences of different racial, religious, and ethnic groups in the United States from contact to the present day. Special attention is paid to gender, class, legal status, political status and education. The approach toward immigrants, race, and identity will be approached from a variety of disciplinary and intellectual perspectives. Students will come to understand the many ways in which immigration, race, and identity have been conceptualized, substantiated, classified, and managed. Students will learn how immigration, race, and identity are a shifting landscape.

Required Books:


56:606:542 (H, X, PR, WHP)
Studies of Cultural DiversityAnti-Semitism– Ancient and Modern
Stuart Charmé

The course analyzes some of the many reasons that have contributed to hatred of Jews for more than 2000 years.   We begin with the religious antisemitism that emerged in the beginning of Christianity with the portrayal of Jews in the New Testament,  and reached its height with the total demonization of Jews in the Middle Ages.   We then move on to economic and racial antisemitism which develop with the beginning of the modern world.   All three of these forms of antisemitism inform the Nazi antisemitic propaganda that produced the holocaust.   We then turn to new forms of antisemitism in the latter part of the 20th century, including Islamic antisemitism and the demonization of Zionism and Israel.   Finally we look at recent  right wing antisemitism found online in conspiracy theories and promoted by groups like Q-Anon.   


56:606:561 (H, X, AS)
American Studies:  Culture Wars
Maxwell Burkey

This course invites students to think critically about the intersection of culture and politics in America. Calls for greater civility and cool-headed policy analysis abound in American public discourse, yet our politics remains engulfed in rancorous “culture wars” that frustrate our best hopes for national unity and reasoned consensus. What makes American politics irreducibly cultural? In what ways are political disagreements anchored to prior cultural commitment? And does this cultural underpinning of American politics imperil or enable our democracy? Is “culture war” a healthy component of democratic contestation, or evidence of democracy’s fracture? Though “culture war” is a perennial phenomenon, we will grapple with these contested questions in the context of contemporary life, with particular attention to the fragility of American democracy. We will begin by examining four dominant strands of cultural politics in America: the liberal tradition, the paranoid style, counterculture, and civil religion. With this grounding in canonical “cultural readings” of American politics in hand, we’ll interrogate a variety of ongoing “culture wars,” such as those in the arenas of education, patriotism, the family, identity politics, free speech and cancel culture, the urban-rural divide, climate change and public health, immigration, affirmative action and racial justice, gun control the second amendment, gay marriage, transgender rights, abortion and reproductive rights, and antisemitism, anti-Zionism, and Islamophobia.


56:606:607 (H, CAL)
Studies of the Arts and Literature:  Love Story in Contemporary Literature

Peter C. Kunze 

This course takes the contemporary love story in film and literature as its focus to examine how writers and filmmakers around the world have used the couple as a means to examine cultural, historical, political, and social tensions. A time-honored tradition, the love story traditionally underscores the values of a culture, but as revisionist approaches emerged in the 20th century, it increasingly became a genre for foregrounding conflicts between ideologies and individuals. This course will draw on a range of methodologies – feminism, queer theory, postcolonial studies, among others – to understand both the texts and the national traditions out of which they emerge. The relationship between literature and history also will be emphasized to show how art reflects the era of its creation by fostering a dialogue with it. Throughout the course, we seek to develop key skills of close reading, argumentation, and critical writing for appreciating what narrative is and its relevance to our everyday lives.

 Required Books

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Thing Around Your Neck, 0307455912
Marguerite Duras, The Lover, 9780375700521
Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate, 038542017X
David Henry Hwang, M. Butterfly, 0452272599
Haruki Marukami, South of the Border, West of the Sun, 0679767398
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, 9780679723165
Marjane Satrapi, Embroideries, 0375714677


56:606:608 (H, CAL)
Studies of the Arts and LiteratureDisney Films– Analyzing Adaptations
Peter C. Kunze 

This course surveys films made by Disney based on fairy tales, myths, and books from around the world. Special attention is paid to adaptation theory, including work by Hutcheon, Stam, Zipes, and Leitch. In addition, students will be introduced to the major schools of interpretation, including formalism, Marxism, psychoanalysis, postcolonialism, feminism, queer theory, and cultural studies. 


56:606:609 (H, CAL)
Studies of the Arts and Literature:   New Media Art

Elizabeth Demaray

This class is dedicated to advancing the conceptual and practical uses of digital media in a fine arts context. Focused on a nexus of theory and studio-based work, the course utilizes much of the technology already available in our day-to-day lives to make video art, mash-ups, interactive media and web based artworks. New Media Art also offers the opportunity to actively participate in the innovations that are the hallmark of this new medium while tracing the historic significance of computing, hacktivism and shared interfaces. Students need no prior background in art to take this class.


56:606:610 (H, CAL)
Studies of the Arts and Literature:  Conceptual Art–Strategies and Movements
 Elizabeth Demaray

In sentences 2 and 3 from Sentences on Conceptual Art, Sol LeWitt states: “Rational judgments repeat rational judgments. Irrational judgments lead to new experience.” In this class, we will create artistic works and learn about the nature of innovation by tracing the dematerialization of the art object through the history of Western art in the twentieth century.

Some of the conceptual strategies we will explore in Conceptual Art: Strategies and Movements include recontextualization, generative processes, frottage, performative actions, and site-based intervention. You will also learn how to write critique statements, give online presentations on current and historical works, and present your own projects within a formal critical structure.




56:606:611 (H, CAL)
Studies of the Arts and Literature:   An Immersion into Experience– Writing from Life 
Lauren Grodstein

This course is designed to allow students to plumb their own lives for subject matter for short stories or essays. The four subjects we’ll tackle are childhood, travel, grief, and work, but these subjects are broad enough that they welcome other topics into their scope. For instance, when considering travel, we might think about food, international norms, or the sad state of the airline industry; when we write about work, we might write about our houses, our hobbies, our loves. Each unit contains a lecture, several mandatory readings, a few suggested readings and/or videos (which are designed to help inspire you to write your weekly submission), and a mandatory discussion forum, in which you must respond to the readings and to one another’s posts). Graduate students are responsible for one six-nine page submission weekly, and undergraduates are responsible for four-seven page submissions.


56:606:612 (H, CAL)

Studies of the Arts and Literature:  Fiction Workshop– Methods of Fiction
Lauren Grodstein

Methods of Fiction is a workshop designed for every writer – from novice to well-practiced –  interested in strengthening his or her short stories and novels.  We will investigate the foundations of fiction: character, plot, dialogue, and setting, and practice by submitting our own short works.  We will complement our writing with the discussion of memorable contemporary short stories.  


56:606:613 (H, X, AS, CAL)
Studies of the Arts and Literature:   From Bop to Pop–History of Jazz
Lindsay Leach

From Bop to Pop: History of Jazz is a graduate course designed to introduce and survey the origins of jazz from New Orleans to the music of today. Topics covered will trace the social and historical context that gave birth to jazz styles as well as the related genres and musical inventions. From Dixieland and Folk to Big Band to Rock, students will investigate landmark artists, songs, and movements, which explore the connections between the music they listen to and the artists who have pioneered that progress. 


Jazz Styles, History and Analysis, 11thed., Mark C. Gridley, Pearson Publishing, 2012
ISBN-10: 0-205-03683-X
ISBN 13: 978-0-205-03683-7 

Suggested Reading

Concise Guide to Jazz, 7thed., Mark C. Gridley, Pearson Publishing, 2013

Jazz,Gary Giddens and Scott DeVaux, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2009 
ISBN-13: 978-0393937060
ISBN-10: 0393937062


56:606:614 (H, CAL)

Studies of the Arts and Literature:  Multi-Genre Writing Workshop
Lauren Grodstein

This course explores the creation and revision of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Students will read poems, personal essays, and short stories to help develop their own creative processes while generating new work across each genre.  Using writing prompts and exercises, students will produce both short and long-form original work and respond to one another’s writing in a workshop format.  


56:606:621 (SS, WHP)
Studies of Politics and Society:  The Collapse of Complex Civilizations  (no longer offered)
Katie Lantzas

For the last several years, and with increasing frequency, environmental, economic, and socio-political disasters have dominated the news. Almost every day there is a new story about the Global Economic Crisis and the state of the American economy. Is this just a case of history repeating itself?

In this course, we will ask what, if anything, can we learn from the rise and fall of past civilizations, and is this knowledge applicable to developments in modern society? Using concepts from sociology, economics, history, anthropology, and archaeology, we will analyze examples of societal collapse, such as the civilizations in ancient Egypt, Greece, the Maya, and the early Middle Ages. These will then be used to analyze current events in Europe and the America in light of the lessons of the past.





56:606:622 (SS, WHP)
Studies of Politics and Society:  Politics of Terrorism
Steve Snow

An analysis of the use of terror as a form of political expression and strategy. The course will investigate terrorism from institutional and historical perspectives, focusing on the level of threat to the United States from domestic terrorists and Al Queda, as well as tactics, weapons, aims, and the rationality of terror. Other topics include state-sponsored terrorism, and the consequences and tactics of counter-terrorism.         







Studies of Politics and Society:  Middle East History and Politics (SS, X, WHP)
Steve Snow

The history and politics of the Middle East are more important today than ever before, yet are widely misunderstood or mischaracterized. This course focuses on events and dynamics from the 19th century to the present, and how they affect the wider world. Topics include: religious schism; European imperialism; political Islamism; the Arab-Israeli conflict; and the Arab Spring. We will examine these and other issues from a variety of perspectives.

Required Books:

Ansary, T. (2010). Destiny disrupted:  A history of the world through Islamic eyes (paperback ed.).
Washington, D.C.: Public Affairs.Mansfield, P. (2013). A history of the Middle East (4th ed.). New York, NY: Penguin.

56:606:624 (SS, X, WHP)
Studies of Politics and Society:  Empire and Decolonization
Tim Nicholson

This interdisciplinary class will provide an overview 20th century from the perspective of collapsing empires and the resulting political, social and economic changes.  Adding a non-Western perspective to this topic, this class will highlight the efforts and failures of colonized peoples to achieve independence through various means, including violence, protest andnegotiation. By highlighting the intersection of the Cold War and decolonization, this class will provide an examination of the limitations and constraints newly independent countries, peoples and groups faced and the varied responses to these challenges. After a brief overview of the world before 1945, it will examine the rise of the United States and Soviet Union before highlighting Asian, Latin American and African responses to both decolonization and the Cold War. It will utilize primary source accounts, fictional readings and newly published overviews and will also include the development of a student research paper.

Todd Shepard, Voices of Decolonization

Viet Thanh Nguyen,  The Sympathizer 

Dane Kennedy, Decolonization a Short History


56:606:626 (SS, WHP)
Studies of Politics and Society:  World Politics
Amy Higer

This course is intended as an introduction to the academic study of world politics.  The course is both theoretical and historical.  Students will be expected to attain a firm grasp of major theories, concepts, and controversies in the field of international relations, as well as the significance of important historical events to shaping contemporary world politics.  The central theme of the course is the relation between theory and practice: how do our interpretations of the history of world politics shape our theories and concepts of how world politics actually works?

The course is divided into three parts.  First, we introduce key concepts in the study of world politics, in particular the Westphalian nation-state system.  Second, we discuss the leading theories and frameworks for interpreting world politics.  Third, we examine the events and ideas that have most profoundly shaped the theory and practice of world politics today.  Here we focus on the watershed events of the past century, giving particular emphasis to the effects of inter-state wars on world politics and on the nature of the “international system.”  As we travel through history, we explore the roots of contemporary issues on the international agenda, including international law and the United Nations, the politics of the Middle East, nuclear weapons, the Military Industrial Complex, the global political economy, and international human rights.


  1. Joseph S. Nye, Jr. and David Welch, Understanding Global Conflict and Cooperation: An Introduction to Theory and History (HarperCollins College Publishers, 2013), 10th ed.  
  2. Karen A. Mingst, Jack L. Snyder, Heather Elko McKibben, Essential Readings in World Politics, 7th edition (W.W. Norton & Company, 2019)
  3. Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front (Fawcett Crest, 1958), any edition will do!
  4. Mary Ann Glendon, A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (Random House, 2001)




56:606:631 (H, AS)
Studies of Culture and Criticism:  Myth and Meaning in America
Greg Salyer

“In a fractured age, when cynicism is a god, here is a possible heresy: we live by stories, we also live in them. One way or another we are living the stories planted in us early or along the way, or we are also living the stories we planted—knowingly or unknowingly—in ourselves. We live stories that either give our lives meaning or negate it with meaninglessness. If we change the stories we live by, quite possibly we change our lives” (46).

That is African novelist Ben Okri, but his insight isn’t geographically or culturally limited. We could even say that it applies uniquely to America because America is a story of its own uniqueness. America sees itself through other myths as well, such as “discovery,” trans-Atlantic love, “the Promised Land,” the Founding Fathers, the Melting Pot, the West, and the Self-Made Man. Combining theoretical studies of mythology with American historical particulars and interdisciplinary studies in cultural criticism Myth and Meaning in America will explore and analyze the many meanings of America from inside and outside of its myths.

Okri, Ben. A Way of Being Free. London: Phoenix House, 1997. Print

Books (free and online)
The Myths that Made America, Heike Paul

56:606:632 (H, X, AS, HWGL)

Sickness and Health in American Culture
Cornelia Lambert

This course considers the development of uniquely American attitudes to sick and well bodies from the Early Republic to today. Using texts and imagery, we’ll think about our cultural attitudes towards aspects of the modern body, including weight-gain (or loss), disability, beauty, aging, cuteness, and diet / fitness regimens. What assumptions do we make about bodies that look a certain way? What are the historical and cultural roots of these assumptions? 


56:606:633 (H, AS, CAL)
Media and American Culture:   From Photography to the Internet
Cori Hall Healy

This course examines the role media plays in the formation of American culture. We will discuss how photographs, television shows, films, and the internet define national narratives regarding class, race, and gender. Using discussion boards, guided viewings, and lectures, students will learn how to analyze media artifacts in reference to political and cultural theories.


56:606:639 (H, PR, CAL)
Studies of Philosophy and Religion: The Bible as Literature
John Wall

This course examines the literary, historical, and contemporary worlds of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. These rich and controversial writings have profoundly influenced Judaism and Christianity as well as worldwide culture and thought, religious and otherwise, for thousands of years. And they continue to inspire, challenge, and trouble people today. We discuss who wrote the Bible, its social and historical contexts, different ways to think about reading it, its meanings and functions as literature, possible interpretations in the context of the twenty-first century, and core themes such as God, creation, evil, covenant, prophesy, justice, and love. Students will leave the course with a complex understanding of what one twentieth century theologian called “the strange world of the Bible.”


56:606:640 (H, PR, HWGL)
Studies of Philosophy and Religion: Environmental Ethics
Margaret Betz

This course explores ethical issues regarding humanity’s relationship with the natural world. Topics include an examination of anthropocentrism, biocentrism, and ecocentrism; animal rights; environmental justice related to race, gender, and nationality ; indigenous views on nature; the climate change crisis; ecofeminism; and urban ecology.


56:606:641 (H, SS, PR, HWGL)
Studies of Philosophy and ReligionPsychology of Religious Beliefs, Values, and Symbols
Stuart Charmé

Religion remains one of the most puzzling aspects of human behavior for psychologists to explain, since it involves some of the strongest and strangest beliefs, values, emotions, and experiences that people have. This course will explore a variety of theories intended to show possible psychological interpretations for belief in God, prayer and rituals, religious myths and symbols, and altered states of consciousness involved in phenomena such as mysticism, near-death experience, possession, and apparitions. We will analyze the work of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Erich Fromm, and others.

Required Books:

Freud, The Future of an Illusion
Fromm, Psychoanalysis and Religion  


56:606:642 (H, PR)
Studies of Philosophy and Religion:   Gods and Monsters– Understanding Power
Greg Salyer

We experience power in some form everyday, yet we rarely think critically about the role it plays in our lives.  Gods and monsters symbolize the extreme poles of our understandings of power and thus serve as instructive benchmarks for this interdisciplinary exploration.  The course approaches the study of power from theoretical (e.g., philosophical, political, sociological, and historical), literary, and artistic perspectives and applies these understandings to issues in the public sphere.  Some of the questions we will ask include:  How are gods and monsters made and what cultural functions do they serve? What is power? How is it created, maintained, and distributed?  How does power change? How is power gendered? Readings will include religious analyses of anthropomorphism, Freud on religion the Id, Medieval literary criticism on monsters, Nietzsche on the will to power and Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Michel de Certeau on belief, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, the Book of Job, 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale, Ceremony, and various articles on the social construction of gender.




56:606:643 (H, PR)
Studies of Philosophy and Religion:  Magic and Ritual Power
Ken Banner

Contrary to expectation, magic is still with us–even in our technological society. It’s found in such varied places as literature (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings), television (Supernatural) or the personal spirituality of a student who is a solitary Wiccan, peforming a spell. This course will begin with issues in defining and studying the concept of “magic.” Is magic a form of religion? Are religious rituals magical? How do scholars approach ritual and the belief in supernatural power associated with it? We’ll then analyze examples of magical practices in the ancient world and the middle ages (including Jewish and Christian texts). After that we’ll explore modern expressions in religious traditions like Kabbalah in Judaism, Charismatic Christianity and Wicca/Neo-Paganism as well as popular culture.

Required Textbooks:

Susan Greenwood, Magic, Witchcraft and the Otherworld: An Anthropology (New York: Berg Publishers, 2000, Paperback) ISBN-10: 1859734502; ISBN-13: 978-1859734506

Marvin W. Meyer and Richard Smith (editors) Ancient Christian Magic (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1999, Paperback) ISBN-10: 0691004587; ISBN-13: 978-0691004587

Daniel Ogden, Magic, Witchcraft, and Ghosts in the Greek and Roman Worlds: A Sourcebook (New York:
Oxford University Press, 2nd Edition, 2009, Paperback) ISBN-10: 0195385209; ISBN-13: 978-0195385205


56:606:644 (H, PR)
Studies of Philosophy and Religion:  Evil 
John Wall

Examines the phenomenon and meaning of evil, especially “moral” evil. Key questions pursued are how evil may be explained, why humanity is capable of It in the first place, whether it belongs to some or all people, how to differentiate its perpetrators and its victims, whether evil is compatible with the existence of a good God, and how one may judge the difference between evil and good. These and other fundamental questions are pursued through a wide range of classic, historical, and contemporary texts and in relation to examples of evil in today’s world.

Here is the list of required books for Evil:

  1. Sophocles, Antigone, any translation, but preferably trans. David Grene, in Sophocles I, Second Edition (The University of Chicago Press, 1991).
  2. The Bhagavad-Gita, translated by Barbara Stoler Miller (Bantam Books, 1986).
  3. Augustine, Confessions, translated by R.S. Pine-Coffin (Penguin Books, 1961).
  4. Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, Revised and Enlarged Edition (Penguin Books, 1994).
  5. Richard Kearney, Strangers, Gods, and Monsters (Routledge, 2003).

56:606:645:90 (H, PR)
Studies of Philosophy and Religion:   Contemporary Moral Issues
Ed Young

This course will focus on the study of articles written on a broad range of contemporary issues of ethical concern. These issues potentially include but not limited to capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia, sexuality, animal welfare, and poverty. Studying the works of respected thinkers on these matters will afford students an opportunity to think more thoroughly and systematically about these issues than would otherwise be likely.

Major western ethical theories, potentially including but not necessarily limited to those authored by Bentham, Mill, Aquinas, Kant, and Aristotle will also be studied. Representing the most widely studied attempts to bring unity to our particular judgments of right and wrong under a more general ethical perspective, they are not only the basis of many of the articles we will study, but are also useful in revealing inconsistencies in our own views.

56:606:646:90 (H, PR)
Studies of Philosophy and Religion:  Philosophy and Film
Ed Young

Films offer perspectives on how life is experienced and on how it might be experienced from a perspective other than one’s own.  As such, they can be seen as reflections on the importance of the ideas they represent.  In virtue of their popularity, they are one of the primary means through which our society engages these ideas.  Our course is dedicated to philosophical reflection on these representations and engagements.

Using films as representations of thought experiments, we will analyze Hilary and Jackie for its implications regarding relativism and truth, The Matrix and Inception as illustrations of skepticism, Memento and Moon for factors that complicate our the issue of personal identity, I, Robot for its exploration of artificial intelligence, and Minority Report for its representation of the conflict between free will and determinism.


56:606:647 (H, PR, HWGL)
Studies of Philosophy and Religion:  Biomedical Ethics
Melissa Yates

This course explores moral issues in medicine and medical research.  It reviews competing ethical theories in philosophy and how they apply to issues raised by the creation and termination of life.   Some of the topics covered include ethical issues involved in abortion, stem cell research, cloning, prenatal screening for disability, right to medical care, human experimentation, genetic enhancement and eugenics, animal experimentation, the diagnosis of death, euthanasia, responses to diseases and pandemics.



56:606:648 (H, X, PR)
Studies of Philosophy and ReligionPhilosophy of Social Identities
Melissa Yates

In this course, students will critically examine philosophical problems involved in the ways we conceive of and understand social relationships.  Topics include the way gender and/or racial considerations enter into the social standing of the individual, the political and economic consequences of one’s social class, and the use liberalism, critical social theory, and post-modernism to challenge existing social institutions.



56:606:649 (H, HWGL, PR)
Studies of Philosophy and Religion:  Philosophical Perspectives on the Good Life
Max Burkey

This course invites students to think critically about the concept of human flourishing. What is happiness? What makes for a meaningful life? How does one find the good life? We will consider answers to these questions offered by prominent philosophical, religious, and literary figures throughout intellectual history. Our goal will be to grapple with happiness and “the good life” as contested concepts whose meaning shifts with historical and textual context, requiring careful interpretation and thoughtful reflection. The first half of the class will consider approaches to human flourishing offered by five key intellectual traditions: classical thought, religious thought, enlightenment thought, utilitarian thought, and existential thought. With this grounding in canonical thinking in hand, the second half of the class will consider elements of human happiness in seven arenas: nature, friendship, place, work, experience, action, and care.
Required Books:
Cahn, Steven M., and Christine Vitrano, eds. Happiness: Classic and Contemporary Readings in Philosophy. Oxford University Press, 2008. ISBN-13: 978-0-19-532140-1
Guignon, Charles, ed. The Good Life. Hackett Publishing, 1999. ISBN-13: 978-0-87220-438-6 


56:606:651 (SS, HWGL)
Studies in Psychological Theories and ResearchPositive Psychology–On Happiness and a Good Life
Jon Cabiria

Positive Psychology is the study of human potential and the outcomes of positive behavior. It looks at strengths rather than faults, with the goal of improving lives by focusing on what works instead of what does not. As an applied course, the approach will include real world examples to highlight the various concepts related to positive psychology. Each week, students will take a look at different aspects of life – work, home, social, cultural, and media-related – to better understand what it means to thrive using positive psychology principles. It is certain to be an interesting and thought-provoking course that will have students thinking differently about their approach to life.


Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi 
Harper Perennial Modern Classics; 1st edition (July 1, 2008)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0061339202
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0061339202

The Psychology of Happiness: A Good Human Life by Samuel S. Franklin 
Cambridge University Press; 1st edition (September 14, 2009)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0521191300
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0521191302

Happiness and the Good Life by Mike W Martin
Oxford University Press; 1st edition (March 1, 2012)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0199845212
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0199845217


56:606:652 (SS, HWGL)
Studies in Psychological Theories and Research:  Social Psychology in the Real World

Jon Cabiria

Description: Are you who you say you are, or are you who I say you are? The creation of our identity is a constant give-and-take between how others perceive us and how we respond to those perceptions. Firmly grounded in social psychology, each week we will explore a different facet of why and how we relate to each other in order to achieve personal, family, social, and work-related goals. You will find this course to be surprising in many ways, as we explore the practical applications of social psychology principles and theories to real-world lives, including the increasing influence of social media. Your own experiences and insights will be the foundation of our class activities.

Required Book:
The Real World: An introduction to Sociology (2018) by Kerry Ferris & Jill Stein

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Sixth edition
ISBN-10: 0393639576
ISBN-13: 978-039363957



56:606:661 (H, X, PR)
Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality:   Gender, Sexuality, and Religion
Stuart Charmé

This class looks at the ways that women and men have been portrayed and treated in the myths, symbols and rituals of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (with options to explore other religions as well).   We will examine how these traditions’ views of the body, nature, sexuality, the sacred, and the divine affected each others.   We’ll look at the tradition of Goddess worship that was supplanted by the major western religions and why it has enjoyed a resurgence among some people today.  We’ll discuss the question of whether elements of these religions are sexist and/or homophobic and whether they contribute to oppression of women and LBGTQ people.   We will consider suggestions various sources about how to make religious stories and rituals more welcoming of people regardless of gender or sexuality.

Required Book:

Plaskow and Christ, Womanspirit Rising

  • ISBN-10: 0060613777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060613778



Studies of Women, Gender, and SexualityWomen, Men and Work (SS, X, AS)

Cynthia Saltzman

This course will take an anthropological look at the paid and unpaid work that women and men perform in Western and non-Western cultures around the world, especially the United States. The course will analyze the effects of gender on the work people do, and its rewards, hardships, and implications for family living. It will consider how people’s race, ethnicity, and class profoundly affect the shape of male and female labor. It will also ask how work roles have varied throughout history, and how current economic and technological changes are affecting equality between women and men, here and abroad. We will examine historical and cultural context, empirical research findings, and theoretical developments as we study issues relevant to understanding women’s and men’s work experiences.

Collins, Threads: Gender, Labor, and Power in the Global Apparel Industry.
Dudley, Kathryn Marie. 1994. The End of the Line: Lost Jobs, New Lives in Postindustrial America. University of Chicago Press.
Ho, Karen. 2009. Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street. Duke University Press.


Studies in Historical Analysis:  History of Global Health  (H, X, WHP, HWGL)
Timothy Nicholson

This course surveys human experiences with health, healing, and disease from a global historical perspective, exploring worldwide medical traditions and how people have responded to major epidemic diseases. It will examine such topics as the global movements of disease, colonialism’s impact on global health, and the role of race and gender in shaping global health, as these factors have often been used to justify discrimination and exclusion. Students will be able to critically analyze the challenges and opportunities posed by global health issues.



Studies in Non-Western Cultures and Societies:  World Music (H, X, CAL)
Lindsay Leach

World Music is designed to visually and aurally introduce the student to a variety of musical traditions from around the global, thereby giving the student a footing in ethnomusicology—the study of music and it’s relationship to history, culture, sociology, and anthropology. This course explores traditional, ceremonial, and popular music from Sub-Saharan Africa, India, Asia, the Middle East, Indonesia, Latin America, North America, and Europe. Students should develop not only a working knowledge about music, but also the ability to discuss musical happenings and relate music to a variety of cultural events.


56:606:682 (SS, X, WHP, HWGL)

Studies in Non-Western Cultures and Societies:  Health and Healing in Africa
Tim Nicholson

This class will use the concept of health and healing to examine larger social, economic and political trends in Africa. Focusing on diseases such as Ebola, HIV/AIDS and cholera, and by examining such topics as traditional healing, reproductive health and inoculations, this class will highlight changes and continuities that Africans experienced over the last two hundred years. A range of primary and secondary sources will be used to highlight African concerns, outside stereotypes, local responses to changing medical views and African agency with regard to health and healing. The class will link notions of health and healing with the colonial and postcolonial state and global changes. Students will be expected to post weekly forum responses, upload weekly small papers and develop an argumentative essay over the course of the class.


Capstone Research in Liberal Studies

Capstone research and writing, under the supervision of an adviser chosen in consultation with the program director.

Independent Research in Liberal Studies

Independent study of a topic of special interest to the student, under the supervision of an adviser chosen in consultation with the program director. If this course is taken for one term, the project culminates in a paper about 20-25 pages in length. If the course is taken for two terms, a more substantial paper is required.


Matriculation Continued
Continuous registration may be accomplished by enrolling for at least 3 credits in standard course offerings, including research courses, or by enrolling in this course for 0 credits. Students actively engaged in study toward their degree who are using university facilities and faculty time are expected to enroll for the appropriate credits.