Author: Ellen Poltilove
From Jerusalem to Graceland. Nature and the American Imagination. Literature and the Healing Arts.
Those course titles are a sampling of the classes in the Master’s of Liberal Arts degree program, which, for the first time, will be offered at the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus. The master’s of liberal arts program, established at Johns Hopkins in 1962, will offer classes in Montgomery County starting in January 2015.
“Montgomery County is a natural home for a program like the MLA because its residents value education,” said Dianne Scheper, senior lecture and program coordinator. “The county boasts one of the best public school systems in the nation. The county has a distinguished community college, the American Film Institute, the Strathmore Music center, three art centers and several drama theaters, all of which attest to a robust interest in the liberal arts.”
The county is also home to hospitals and institutes of health whose employees, already highly educated in technical subjects, may be interested in exploring the world of liberal arts in a structured program, Scheper said.
The master of liberal arts is a part-time degree program, with students generally taking about three years to complete the coursework. They have up to five years to finish the curriculum.
Classes will be held in the evenings and on weekends, said D. Melissa Hilbish, director of the Center for Liberal Arts and associate program chair of the Master of Liberal Arts Program.
Students are required to take 10 courses. Exploring the Liberal Arts is a core course required of all students. The class provides an introduction to the breadth and scope of the liberal arts. After that, students are free to choose from a variety of classes focusing on film, religion, literature, history, photography, political science, science and other areas.
Students develop critical thinking skills and writing skills.
Students can take classes in on-site, on-line and via video conference, Hilbish said.
In January 2015, Nature and the American Imagination will be offered at the Montgomery County Campus. The course offers an interdisciplinary study of the American landscape and the role it has played in shaping American identity.
Victorian British Women also will be offered at the Montgomery County Campus in January.
Students in the master’s in liberal arts program are diverse in age and professional background. Some students want the degree to bolster their professional careers.
“Teachers, for example, put what they learn in our interdisciplinary classes to immediate use in their own classrooms,” Scheper said. “Business professionals often find that their expanded knowledge of the liberal arts improves their writing, speaking and critical thinking skills. People in technical and science professions often are eager to explore the world of liberal arts that were excluded from highly technical training.”
Who should consider the master of liberal arts degree?
“Anyone who wants to expand their knowledge of the liberal arts and who is hungry for the stimulation of new ideas and new ways of understanding the world around them,” Scheper said.
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