A new major at Lynchburg College provides an additional offering to the institution’s liberal arts core while allowing more flexibility for students to pursue diverse interests.
The Liberal Arts Studies major, which became an official part of LC’s curriculum this fall, serves students whose interests span several disciplines. Students can design their own majors or choose from a variety of pre-defined options that combine courses from multiple disciplines and departments with common themes.
Being able to integrate a breadth and depth of cross-disciplinary perspectives across several subjects will give students an edge in their graduate and other careers, said Dr. Sabita Manian, a political science and international relations professor who serves as the program chair. “Even in the tech world, they are looking for a combination of skills — such as writing and critical thinking — that brings together more than one discipline,” Dr. Manian said. “We created this major as another venue for students to develop such skills.”
Dr. Manian expects the major to appeal to many students who would like to pursue multiple interests but may not be able to pursue a double major due to lack of time or resources. More specifically, it is meant to help transfer students and students who are undecided about their majors and may have credit hours from various disciplines, she said.
Students interested in the Liberal Arts Studies major can apply for a “self-designed” major option, which is available to students with a GPA of at least 3.2, in which they choose the courses that best meet their academic interests with the help of faculty advisors. For example, a student could combine computer science and creative writing, health promotion and sociology, environmental science and criminology, or other meaningful combinations. Faculty members representing the departments of a student’s interest will ascertain whether the student’s interests can be met by a currently existing major. If not, the faculty committee will review and approve the curriculum and provide the student with guidance.
The College also has designed several multidisciplinary options that combine three minors to create a track for students majoring in liberal arts studies or a variety of “Studies” options. These options include Comparative Literature and Culture, Sustainability and Society, and Ethnic or American Studies, for example.
The Liberal Arts Studies major is not meant to supplant any current programs, but to enhance LC’s offerings for students and give students another option, Dr. Manian said.
“The new major complements currently existing majors and is in keeping with LC’s mission of a liberal education,” said Dr. Manian. “By learning to intentionally integrate multiple perspectives, the students will approach problem solving differently, learn to think critically and write – these are all skills that will translate well in either an academic or non-academic careers after they graduate. More importantly it will allow them to become a well-rounded individual and a good scholar-citizen,” Dr. Manian said.