University of Southern California
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Liberal Studies

Office of Advanced and Professional Programs
Mark Taper Hall 355
(213) 740-1349
FAX: (213) 740-5002

Director: Susan H. Kamei, J.D., Associate Dean of Advanced and Professional Programs

Affiliated Faculty

University Professor: Kevin Starr, P.h.D.* (History)

Aerol Arnold Chair in English: James R. Kincaid, Ph.D.* (English)

Florence R. Scott Professor of English: Tania Modleski, Ph.D. (English)

Professors: Judith Halberstam, Ph.D.* (English); Peter C. Mancall, Ph.D.* (History); Edwin McCann, Ph.D.* (Philosophy); William G. Thalmann, Ph.D.* (Classics)

Associate Professors: Roberto Ignacio Diáz, Ph.D.* (Spanish and Portuguese and Comparative Literature); William R. Handley, Ph.D. (English)

Assistant Professor (teaching): Tok Thompson, Ph.D. (Anthropology)

Research Associate Professor: Travis Longcore, Ph.D. (Geography)

Research Assistant Professor: Josh Newell, Ph.D. (Policy, Planning, and Development)

Professor Emeritus: Paul Knoll, Ph.D.* (History)

*Recipient of university-wide or college award for teaching or research.

Master of Liberal Studies

A multidisciplinary degree program, the Master of Liberal Studies (M.L.S.) is designed for motivated, college-educated individuals who wish to further their intellectual growth and pursue graduate work part-time in the evenings.

The program centers on the major forces that are revolutionizing the way we conduct our professional lives, rather than on the individual liberal arts disciplines. In this way, subjects covered in the program’s courses have immediate relevance to the problems and challenges of contemporary society. In particular, the program emphasizes some of the most fundamental dynamics shaping the contemporary world: urbanization and globalization, changing cultural landscape, and technological and environmental transformations.

The M.L.S. is a year-round program consisting of nine 3-unit courses. The degree requires an introductory course and a summative project. Seven elective courses are chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor and/or M.L.S. program director.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the program is based upon possession of a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university, with a minimum 3.0 GPA. When possible, interviews will be conducted with applicants. Two letters of recommendation, a writing sample and a personal statement of purpose are required.

Degree Requirements

Course and Summative Project Requirements
Nine courses (27 units), including the introductory interdisciplinary research course, LBST 500 (3 units), and the summative project, LBST 585 (3 units), are required.

Courses of Instruction

The terms indicated are expected but are not guaranteed. For the courses offered during any given term, consult the Schedule of Classes.

Master of Liberal Studies (LBST)

LBST 500 Introduction to Liberal Studies: Methods of Knowing (3, Fa) Introduction to research methods in the social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences; then methods for applied interdisciplinary research. Graded CR/NC.

LBST 507 Great Western Cities (3) Examination of Western civilization in the urban context, focusing on several great cities in their “golden age” of creativity, accomplishment, and influence.

LBST 510 Cities and Globalization (3) Contemporary urban theory and comparative urban analysis. Emphasis on the role of globalization in shaping urban form and problems.

LBST 512 Language in a Globalizing World (3) Examination of the relationship between language and geopolitical change, endangered and minority languages, and the public policy implications of multilingualism and multiculturalism.

LBST 514 Ideas of Nature in American Culture (3) Examination of how Americans have used nature to think about themselves, environmentalism, American identity, gender/class relations, the American West, and the mythology of Los Angeles.

LBST 516 Urban Conservation Biology (3) Analysis of plant and animal distribution in urban landscapes. Exploration of major threats to urban biodiversity and nature conservation controversies and successes.

LBST 520 Tradition and the Modern World (3) Studies the continuing interplays between tradition and novelty; between locale and globalization; and between heritage and post-modernity with a focus on a specific locale.

LBST 525 The Revolution That Made America (3, Fa) Ideas and politics of the world’s first modern revolution, which transformed 13 colonies into a nation.

LBST 527 Information Systems From Libraries to the Internet (3) History and sociology of information systems. Philosophical and literary implications of writing, archives, libraries, printing, and publishing from the ancient world to the Internet age.

LBST 530 Portraits of Leadership: Examples from the Renaissance (3) Analysis of different forms of cultural leadership in their historical, literary, and philosophical context.

LBST 531 The Hero/Heroine in History (3) Analysis of human agency in history and whether individual men and women are capable of altering the course of history by their actions.

LBST 532 Ideas on Trial (3, Sm) Examination of great trials in history as indicators of changing social and cultural attitudes.

LBST 540 Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise: Dante’s Divine Comedy (3) In-depth reading and analysis of Divine Comedy, in order to develop appreciation for changing values from medieval, to Renaissance and contemporary culture.

LBST 541 Opera, Culture, History, and Thought (3) Analysis of cultural, historic, philosophical, political, and literary movements and themes through the medium of opera.

LBST 542 The Culture of Comedy (3) Historical and synchronic ideas of comedy. Ways in which philosophers, artists, and everyday individuals adapt in our ever-changing world.

LBST 544 Representations of Los ­Angeles (3, not repeatable, Fa) Study of literary, artistic and/or dramatic expressions of Los Angeles and its inhabitants in modern and historical literature, art, photography, film, television, and architecture.

LBST 545 Imagining the American West (3) Explores Western myths and realities through literature, history, film, and painting. Examines why American culture places questions about national pasts and futures in the West.

LBST 547 Acts of Interpretation: Literature, Film, and Methodology (3) Analysis of literature, film, and methodologies for approaching issues of interpretation, readership, and spectatorship. Examination of how interpretation varies across gender, race, class, and sexuality.

LBST 550 Theories and Methods of Analysis in Cultural Studies (3) Development of cultural studies as a fast-growing area of intellectual inquiry. Case study analysis of race/ethnicity, history and memory, space, post-modernism, globalization, censorship, and originality.

LBST 555 Constructions of Childhood (3) Analysis of the concept of childhood from its 18th-century origins. Applications of age studies, language, and cultural construction through fiction, history, film, and other media.

LBST 570 Ecology of Night (3) Explore the world of night. Human perception of the stars and the role of night in history. Impact of artificial lighting on non-human species and habitat.

LBST 571 Food, Fashion and Furniture: Commodities in the Global Economy (3) Analysis of commodities from origin to consumption illustrates the global impact of everyday choices.

LBST 572 Controversies in Science, Medicine and Ethics (3) Focus on how scientific developments drive ethical issues in medicine. Exploration of ethical dimensions of issues such as stem cells, genetic engineering and reproductive technology.

LBST 574 Advances in Genetics and Evolutionary Biology (3) How DNA directs an organism’s development and how our DNA can be “read” to understand human diversity, diseases, defects, and evolution.

LBST 585abz Master’s Project (3-3-0, FaSpSm) A summative research project completed in consultation with the student’s committee. Departmental approval. Graded IP/CR/NC.

LBST 590 Directed Research (1-12, max 18, FaSpSm) Research leading to the master’s degree. Maximum units which may be applied to the degree to be determined by the department.

LBST 599 Special Topics (2-4, max 8) Current issues, trends, and developments in liberal studies.