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April 19, 2013

FAQ Picking Classes 2

As promised here is a second post about picking classes.  This is a general rundown of the Program of Liberal Studies requirements, what they are, some sample courses, and what I personally took to fulfill all of them.  I included the perspectives’ acronyms next to each of them so if you decided to check out the course listing online you can see which courses cover perspectives.

Verbal Expression (VE)

What it is: Verbal expression courses are designed to improve your ability to read and write critically, so in these classes you do a lot of reading and writing

Sample Courses: MGMT 100 Art and Science of Management, TA 153 Modern Drama, PHIL 065 Talking Freedom

What I took: So it might not sound SUPER interesting but for my verbal expression requirement I took ENG 020 Intro to Literary Analysis with Professor Valerio.  This course surprised me because I walked into it thinking it’d be some general, boring English class and walked out at the end of semester with a long list of my new favorite books including the Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.  Each of the intro to lit courses generally takes a specific focus, whether on poetry or post modernism or even themes such as border crossings.  General advice, don’t always pick a class based on its alluring title, sometimes all it takes is a great professor.

Formal Analysis (FA)

What it is:  Formal analysis courses are designed to challenge students to think logically and critically.  It’s kind of a “math” class BUT you can take this course in a discipline that directly relates to your studies

Sample Courses: PHIL 110 Intro to Symbolic Logic, EN 120 Discovering Environmental Science, ECON 011 Principles of Economics

What I took: PSCI 107 Research Methods, this course helped me not only get a perspective out of the way but also it locked down my minor in political science.  It was required to take this or Roots in Political Theory and for me that was a pretty easy choice.  Research methods was super useful to me because it taught me how to look critically at political science academic work and conduct my own political science research project.

Aesthetic Perspective (AP)

What it is: The aesthetic perspective challenges students to think creatively and artistically

Sample Courses: SCRN 130 Film Genre, TA 130 Modern Dance, MUSC 141 Computers and Music, ARTH 143 Art from 1940 to 1970

What I took: ARTS 102 Drawing Eye, Mind, and Hand, I took this course during the spring semester of my sophomore year and every semester since then I’ve taken a studio art course.  I’ve found studio art courses to be my form of yoga, through them I definitely have my zen.  The work is definitely challenging but it’s so different from the reading and writing required in my other history classes.  I’ve loved being able to take a variety of classes here at Clark that have allowed me to have a creative outlet.

Global Comparative (GP)

What it is: The intention of this perspective is to give students a more worldly outlook on a particular topic

Sample Courses: EN 177 Health and the Urban Environment, IDND 066 Global Society, PSCI 094 Dictators and Revolutionaries, SOC 125 Cities and Suburbs

What I took: ECON 010 Economics and the World Economy, my first year I took this course with the intention of fulfilling a requirement for the political science major.  I only ended up minoring in political science, however this still helped me cover a perspective and I have found the knowledge that I learned in this course to be super relevant.

Historical Perspective (HP)

What it is: This is a history course, which as a history major was definitely the easiest perspective to cover.  While this perspective is meant to make students think historically, HPs are offered in a variety of departments as seen below

Sample Courses: GEOG 028 Discover Worcester, HIST 040 The Witch Craze, EDUC 060 Public Schools and Democracy

What I took:  HIST American Race and Ethnicity, in this course we looked at minority groups in the US and their process of adaption and assimilation to the US.  I really enjoyed it because in one section of the class we focused on Irish immigration to the US.  Being of proud Irish-American descent on both sides of my family (the Horigans came over during the potato famine and the O’Neills were exiled due to their affiliation with the rebel IRA) I really enjoyed learning about this history in an academic setting.

Language and Culture Perspective (LP)

What it is: This course has Clarkies study another country’s language or culture.  If Clark does not offer the language you want to take you can take a course at one of the other consortium schools to cover it!

Sample Courses: PSYC 193 Discourse, Self, and Coolness, FREN 124 French Popular Culture, GERM 103 Intermediate German

What I took: SPAN 106 Intermediate Spanish II, between high school and middle school I had taken a total of five years of Spanish so this was the class I qualified to take.  I originally thought that I was going to minor or double major with Spanish but ended up pursuing other interests.  I really enjoyed taking this course though and if I had wanted to, after taking this course I could have studied abroad in Madrid.

Scientific Perspective (SF)

What it is: You guessed it, this perspective is a science course!  Non-science people, do not fear!  You have hope in this perspective yet!

Sample Courses: CHEM 050 Forensic Science, GEOG 080 Reading the Forested Landscape, BIOL 103

What I took: I took Intro to Physics (w/o calc), I had taken AP Physics in high school and done well so I figured why not take it again?  It had been two years but I thought I could handle it.  My best friend at Clark is pre-med so she was also taking this class which was exciting because normally we do not take classes together.  I was the only humanities major in the class but I kept up and ended up doing really well.  Each week the professor held office hours, the TA also held a homework help session.  My first time going to the homework help session I got hopelessly lost in the physics building trying to find where it was held and ended up stumbling upon my professor’s office instead.  Professor Fan sat with me for two hours going over my questions and afterwards walked with me to where the homework help session was so that I could find it in the future.  What could have been a super intimidating class ended up being very manageable.

Values Perspective (VP)

What it is: VP courses are designed to make Clarkies think critically about larger ethical issues and problems.  It is not designed to tell you what to think about these problems but to simply allow you to think about these problems and form your own conclusions and opinions

Sample Courses: ENT Creating Culture of Innovation, COMM 050 Communication and Culture in Main South, ID 104 Experiencing the American City

What I took: CES Nationalism, so this perspective was a little tricky for me.  I had forgotten that you can’t cover more than one perspective with courses from the same department.  Originally I had taken a history course to fulfill this perspective and I realized only after studying abroad that I could no longer use it because my HP was a history course.  I petitioned and substituted my Nationalism course that I took abroad.  In this class, we focused on Czech nationalism and issues that faced minorities in the Czech Republic such as the Roma and Vietnamese minority.

So what I hope you take away from this giant post is that the perspectives are not these annoying general requirements that you are forced to take.  Yes, you do have to fulfill them before you graduate BUT you are allowed to take the courses you want, when you want to.  There’s absolutely no requirement saying you have to do all of them in your first one or two years at Clark.  The PLS courses are what give all Clarkies a well rounded Liberal Arts education, no matter what major you pursue.

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