Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

Courses by Semester

2014 First Fall Session: August 18–October 8

Dates to Remember

August 18: Classes begin
August 22: Last day to drop/add
August 20: Last day to drop for tuition/fees refund
September 1: Labor Day holiday
September 12: Last day to withdraw without academic penalty
October 8: Last day of classes
December 11: Commencement

The Contemporary World

MLS610   CRN 83115


Click here for TENTATIVE syllabus.

This course will examine contemporary global issues with a focus on the post-World War II period, from the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945, to the complex, high-tech, evolving world of today. We will, as much as possible, view changes in the postwar period from the point of view of those undergoing them, including students in this course. Everyone has an "historical consciousness," an understanding of the way the world became what it is today. The main purpose of this course is to introduce students to alternative ways of interpreting history by weighing the merits of differing points of view. We will examine the world by regions, with a number of themes in mind: the Cold War; the rise and fall of communism; nationalism; de-colonization/neo-colonialism; the international economy; racial, ethnic, and religious conflict; the rise of terrorism; gender; class; and environmental issues. You should take from the course the skills to critically appraise varying historical arguments and to clearly express your own interpretation.

Ann Saab (Ph.D., Harvard) is Professor Emeritus of History at UNCG. She has served as Associate Dean of the UNCG Graduate School and Head of the History Department. Her research interests focus on cross-cultural understanding and misunderstandings.

Religion and Ecology

MLS610   CRN 83103


Click here for TENTATIVE syllabus.

Religions are commonly viewed as ways to transcend nature, not abide in it. Religious people often describe themselves as pilgrims "just a-passin' through" rather than at home on the earth.

Yet, the current environmental crisis has motivated many people to re-examine their traditions and to align themselves with the earth. Whether Buddhist or Christian, Jew or Hindu, they discover a religiously based eco-theology, an ethic or earth-care, a means of re-inhabitation, and rituals of sustainability—in short, and eco-spirituality.

A dialogue about the fate of the earth has begun. We will enter a discussion with Christians, Buddhists, Native Americans, Taoists, Jews, Hindus, and Muslims, as well as with new voices of eco-feminism, deep ecology and sustainable design. Emphasis will be placed on what people and communities practice, and on new forms of Christian theology, and on the design of a sustainable future. This class is discussion oriented with readings and reflection papers. We will talk to each other through a discussion forum, post our papers for our peers' responses, and take advantage of relevant websites.

Charlie Headington (Ph.D., University of Chicago) teaches a variety of courses at UNCG and in the community. Most of them encourage people to examine themselves and society, and make constructive changes in how they think and live. He likes to garden, walk, cook, be with his family, and learn Italian.

The Global Economy

MLS620    CRN 83125


Click here for TENTATIVE syllabus.

For the past decade or so, "globalization" has been the media buzzword used to describe changes in the U.S. and world economies, perhaps second in recent years only to "the New Economy" in frequency of use. For the most part, this discussion of globalization has focused on changes that seem apparent in contrast to the period following WWII. According to one popular version of this story, in the 1970s the barriers to cross-border trade and financial transactions began to come down. By the late 1990s, as one commentator put it, we lived on the cusp of a "borderless world" where people, information, equipment and ideas would flow freely. In this context, it was imagined, the world would prosper as never before.

During the post-war period, global cross-border trade and financial transactions were a fraction of what they are today. For many developed countries, the increased trade of the past few decades has meant a decline in the importance of manufacturing, as production of everything from cars to shoes has moved to places where labor was relatively cheap. For a few developing countries, this has meant increased investment from rich developed nations. But for many—especially countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, to say nothing of the ex-manufacturing sectors of the developed world—so called "globalization" has bought few, if any, of the beneficial effects once imagined. Or so it would seem.

This course begins where the theory of the global economy and its reality meet. In general, the course highlights the theory of free trade, since it is on the back of this theory that the promise of globalization—or we might say, economic liberalization—rests. As we will see, the most recent episode of economic liberalization is but a small part of the whole story, although our recent experiences can tell us a good deal about how free trade might or might not work, and for whose benefit. The course is divided into eight basic units, each exploring an important topic for understanding the global economy.

Jeff Sarbaum (Ph.D., SUNY Binghamton) is Lecturer of Economics at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He has specialized in experimental, labor international and urban economics and is an award-winning economics teacher

Dangerous Minds: Terrorism

MLS620    CRN 88343


Click here for TENTATIVE syllabus.

We live in dangerous times. Violence, mischief, and mayhem have long characterized criminal behaviors that represent humanity’s dark underbelly. While it may be possible to isolate certain psychological types susceptible to recruitment by terrorist organizations, it is simplistic to profile individual terrorists and religious extremists without understanding the true nature of the systems that spawn them. Because we cannot separate individuals from the societies they belong to, it is essential to understand the cultural, political, and economic conditions that encourage terrorism and violence. In response to pervasive frustrations or manifold abuses, violence can transcend the individual to become governmental policies or social movements, propelled and justified by revolutionary ideology or religious beliefs.

The course asks hard questions not only about the perpetrators of political and religious extremism around the world, but also about the social, economic, and political structures that give rise to violent acts against perceived enemies. The dangers we face in a liberal democracy are not imagined. The lesson of 9/11 is that our enemies are real. While we may easily identify one strand of radical Islamic orthodoxy as a legitimate enemy committed to our destruction, we must also ask what, if any, real differences separate a Christian fundamentalist who terrorizes abortion clinics in Florida from a Muslim suicide bomber intent on our destruction.

More than an analysis of individual personality types, the course examines the premise that all social, political, and economic systems have their darker sides. It seeks to engage those contradictions through films, readings, and dialogue to imagine creative solutions that enhance our lives as well transform the structures that encourage terrorism.

Carrie Levesque (Ph.D., Duke University) is a Lecturer in Liberal Studies at UNCG. With a background in Russian literature and Women’s Studies, she has a wide variety of teaching interests, from women’s memoirs of war and terror to social and economic issues in American motherhood. She spends her free time studying Norwegian (and Norwegians) after moving with her family to Bergen, Norway, in fall 2012.

2014 Second Fall Session: October 9–December 5

Dates to Remember

October 9: Classes begin
October 17: Last day to drop/add
October 11: Last day to drop for tuition/fees refund
October 13-14: Fall Break
November 6: Last day to withdraw without academic penalty
November 26-28: Thanksgiving holiday
December 5: Last day of classes
December 11: Commencement

Passion of the Western Mind

MLS610   CRN 88341


Syllabus coming soon.

Click here for the course's book list.

There are many big stories in the history of western civilization, stories that unfold over centuries and across many periods of western history. This is one of them. It has to do with the formation of an enduring world view that connects human beings in intimate ways to the universe and proves a sense of meaning to human existence. This worldview also furnishes a direction and goal for human activity. Or, to put it another way, gives human existence purpose.

This worldview in its essential elements takes shape in the world of ancient Greece in the late 5th and 4th centuries BC and it lasts for nearly 2000 years in one form or another. We might thus see it as "the western outlook." But for a number of reasons, this worldview collapses—ends up being impossible to sustain by the late 17th century. This collapse produces part 2 of our big story—the quest for a new, equally satisfying worldview with an equally compelling picture of human meaning and purpose. The quest has gone on now for 300 years without success. These are the stories we will explore in this class.

Stephen Ruzicka (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is an esteemed historian and professor with a career in publishing and teaching spanning more than 35 years. Dr. Ruzicka has taught history at UNCG since 1980, and his research specializations include Ancient History, Classics, Early Christian Literature, and World History. A contributor to various academic journals and publications, his most recent book is Trouble in the West: The Persian Empire and Egypt, 525-332 B.C.

Age of Revolutions

MLS610    CRN 88340


Click here for TENTATIVE syllabus.

Changes in the Western world over the last 600 years have been so profound as to constitute a series of revolutions. This course examines this "Age of Revolutions," and figures out how each one, from the Commercial Revolution to the Sexual Revolution, helped shape the modern age. In each revolutionary episode, we will look at the institutions, practices, and ideas that were overthrown or radically altered by new developments; examine the individuals and texts that played a critical role; and trace the impact the new institutions, practices, and ideas had on the revolution brought forth.

Susan W. Thomas (Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Greensboro) has taught in the History Department at UNCG since 2008. Her primary research interests concern the social, political, and economic development of the American South, with an emphasis on the early twentieth century penal system, racial identity, and the working class. Dr. Thomas incorporates a global perspective in her teaching and challenges her students to recognize the close relationship between the past and events in the world around them.

Global Human Rights

MLS620    CRN 83136


Click here for TENTATIVE syllabus.

The setting of this course is a virtual grassroots, intensely-focused, and highly respected human rights organization. MALS students "join" the organization as trainees to become human rights monitors (investigators). The highly interactive training program requires new monitors to learn by exploring human rights issues around the world. The research requires virtual travel to current conflicts to investigate allegations of genocide in Darfur, sex slavery in Thailand, detainee abuse in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, and growing threats to civil liberties.

Students develop critical familiarity with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, its historical antecedents in the U.S. Bill of Rights and the French Rights of Man, and explore their cultural and political foundations. Most required readings are available online, but students are expected to view documentaries and films as well as read additional materials that inform their human rights research.

Students become proficient in research methodologies that encourage investigative independence and creativity while maintaining academic rigor in order to understand complex issues and recommend achievable solutions in their reports to the agency director.

Alexandra Schultheis Moore (Ph.D., University of Rochester) associate professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, teaches postcolonial studies and human rights in literature and film. She is the author of Regenerative Fictions: Postcolonialism, Psychoanalysis, and the Nation as Family (2004) and co-editor, with Elizabeth Swanson Goldberg, of Theoretical Perspectives on Human Rights and Literature (2011). They are also co-editing a volume on Teaching Human Rights in Literary and Cultural Studies. Moore has published essays in journals including Genders, Humanity, Peace Review, South Asian Review, and Twentieth-Century Literature as well as in various edited collections. Her current monograph project, Between Mourning and Advocacy, examines human rights as a mode of framing and reception for contemporary literature.

Reason to Relativity: Revolutions in Scientific Thought

MLS630    CRN 88345


Click here for TENTATIVE syllabus.

For centuries Aristotle's interpretation of the physical world stood as the gold standard. It shaped how generations of scholars and scientists saw and described their own world—until Newton arrived on the scene. Much later, Einstein filled in the gaps that Newton's vision didn't adequately explain. Today, Einstein's theories are being simultaneously verified and challenged by the next generation of scientists. This dynamic process has had its ups and downs since Aristotle's time—both revolutionary and evolutionary—while the search for truth goes valiantly on. Our goal is to view discoveries and revelations in the context of both their historical and scientific importance and discover what prompted great minds to take these leaps forward.

Bob Miller (Ph.D., Illinois Institute of Technology) is Professor Emeritus of Chemistry. As Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences he was instrumental in the founding of the MALS program in 1985.

2014 Fall Ten Week Classes: September 8–November 18

Dates to Remember

September 8: Classes begin
September 10: Last day to drop/add
September 10: Last day to drop for tuition/fees refund
October 10: Last day to drop without academic penalty
October 13-14: Fall Break
November 18: Last day of classes
December 11: Commencement

London's Fictions

MLS610   CRN 88342


Click here for TENTATIVE syllabus.

From the Restoration until the death of Queen Victoria the development of London as a metropolis, a national capital, and a center of empire made it the first truly modern European city. Writers in two “new” literary forms – the novel and manners comedy – described vividly the pleasures, perils, and problems of London life during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This course will look at London’s growth, as interpreted in Roy Porter’s London: A Social History, in relation to its fictional representations by novelists (Dickens, Fielding) and dramatists (Wilde, Sheridan, Congreve). These authors’ images of wealth and crime, entertainment and alienation, spectacle and terror shaped our sense of what it means to inhabit a city.

Joseph Rosenblum (Ph.D., Duke University) grew up in Connecticut in a family where the greatest sin was raising one’s voice, though buying retail ran a close second. Since 1980, he has taught at UNCG. Among his books are “Shakespeare: An Annotated Bibliography” (1992), “A Reader’s Guide to Shakespeare” (1998) and “The Greenwood Companion to Shakespeare” (2005). In 1990, he won second prize in the Oxford University Press English Detective Fiction contest with a story about a thief who leaves Shakespearean quotations in lieu of the objects he steals.