Academics > Liberal Studies

Liberal Studies

Liberal Studies

Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies

The problems that the world faces today are human problems. They stem from issues of belief, security, justice, human rights ... issues that have been with us since the beginnings of human society. In order to understand and address them, the leaders of the future will need the wisdom of the ages. In search of this wisdom, the liberal studies major at Holy Cross examines human problems from various disciplinary perspectives: literature, politics, psychology, economics, philosophy and theology.

We begin by developing our perspective through the lens of literature. The first liberal studies courses introduce us to the multifaceted problems of the human condition as we encounter them in literary works such as J.R.R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings, Homer's Iliad and Odyssey , and Fyodor Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov and Demons.

We next examine problems taken from history and politics. Students take three courses in which they will examine the foundations of politics. American politics will be examined first, in particular and democracies in general with works by authors such as Roberl Dahl, Alexis de Toqueville, and Orestes Brownson. Second, we will examine the problems of politics throughout history in the writings of Thucydides, Polybius, and Machiavelli. Third, we survey the birth and extension of modern political thought, in particular drawing from authors such as Thomas More, Pascal, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

After literature and politics, liberal studies majors will enter the world of philosophy. Philosophy helps students integrate their entire Holy Cross experience into a unified whole. Students will examine problems related to the human person, the soul, God and the world in three courses. First, in the course on the soul, they will examine the central questions about the meaning of human existence with authors such as Dante, Aquinas, Plato and Aristotle.

Second, they will examine the problems associated God and politics through Augustine's the City of God, and Aquinas' political writings. Third, they will examine how the wisdom that they have gained from their liberal studies courses could provide principles for transforming society through meditation on Aquinas' Treatise on God as well as Plato's Republic and Laws.

Completing the Liberal Studies Major
In addition to the Liberal Studies courses, students are required to obtain at least one concentration in another discipline offered at the college. The purpose of obtaining a concentration is to understand the basic principles and problems of a discipline, in the hope that they will bring the wisdom gained from liberal studies to the discipline in which they will ultimately study or work. This concentration will also help students prepare for graduate work in their field of their choice. For example, one liberal studies student has taken a concentration in Psychology. Because of his liberal studies course on the soul, he was able to offer a compelling critique of the basic principles of competing contemporary psychological systems.

Another liberal studies student used concepts learned in her liberal studies major to theorize about the possibility of labor unions in the new economy. A third liberal studies student is preparing to enter graduate school in education and plans to obtain a Ph.D. in education in order to become a professor himself one day. He hopes to integrate ideas of virtue and character into educational curricula on the high school and college levels.

The flexibility of the liberal studies major allows students who are concerned about building their resume to acquire the skills they need to be competitive in the job market. More importantly, the liberal studies classes will help them mature into the kind of thinkers that are sought after in the job market.

The liberal studies major is also recommended for students who plan to obtain Masters' and Ph.D.'s in other disciplines.