Required Courses

6 Master’s in Liberal and Interdisciplinary Studies courses are required.

Select 2: Applied Studio Skills Courses

MAS 611 Design Thinking

Design Thinking is a human-centered approach to problem-solving and innovation. It solves complex problems like a failing business, an outdated curriculum, inaccessible health services, launching a new product, switching to sustainable practices, and starting a new enterprise. Design thinking is unique among methods of innovation and upends normal innovation by putting the user in the foreground.

The process used in this course moves from Inspiration to Ideation to Implementation. And you’ll be introduced to a set of tools that put these concepts in motion. Your main text will remain a trustworthy guide in this course and future innovations.

During these seven weeks you’ll move from user’s needs to entertaining diverse solutions, choosing and developing the best, and finally launching one. You’ll be immersed in design thinking, all the time being in dialogue with others and your professor. Your goal is to bring your project to the implementation stage. There are no formal papers.

Course Summary: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes.

MAS 621 Systems Thinking

The purpose of this course is to familiarize you with the theories behind systems thinking and the practical methods of synthesis and analysis that have developed alongside systems thinking’s theoretical constructions. The course is designed as an online seminar with a praxeological case study component. In the course you will develop case studies based on systems methods of investigation. You also will be engaging in reading, in-depth discussion, and writing on the nature of systems thinking, its orientation, range of applicability, and worldview. The primary goal of the course is for you to learn the tools of system analysis and apply your skills to real world systemic problems to promote genuine, lasting change.

Course Summary: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes.

MAS 631 Understanding Data

In the last decade, there has been a massive explosion in the amount of data we generate and consume. We are bombarded daily with data being produced from a variety of sources, from social networking and search engines to research institutions, governments, and companies. How trustworthy is the data we are exposed to? How can we see through common fallacies and deceptive tactics? How can we think critically about the information being presented, understand the context, and be able to see the story in the data? In today’s data-driven world, having this ability to interpret data and test hypothesis is critical. In this course, we will learn the basics of data science. We will use videos, case studies, interactive activities, and statistical software to identify, analyze, interpret, and utilize data to make informed decisions and solve complex problems, and make convincing presentations.

Course Summary: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes.

Select 3: Liberal Arts and Sciences Courses

MAS 612 The Contemporary World

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.

Course Summary: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes.

MAS 613 Crossing Borders: Literature of Migration

Today, living as a responsible, informed citizen requires that we think globally. We sense that our own stresses and pleasures in everyday America are connected to what happens in China, India, or the Middle East. We live on a planet united by technology and trade, but too often our news of other lands comes in sound bites. It often sounds tragic and strange. Yet we know on a deeper level that today’s complex world is a web in which we all are caught, a web in which all people find reason enough to be proud, courageous, loyal, and happy. This course takes the student across boundaries. We read novels, short stories, memoirs, essays, poetry, and view films that show the how and why of cultures far different from our own.

Course Summary: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes.

MAS 622 Global Trade (formerly Global Economy)

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.

Course Summary: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes.

MAS 623 Global Human Rights

The setting of this course is a virtual grassroots, intensely focused, and highly respected human rights organization. MLIS 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.

Course Summary: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes.

MAS 624 Dignity, Identity, and Power

How do patterns of domination and injustice shape what’s going on on the global stage, and in communities closer to home?  How does inequality (real or perceived) drive people to form identity groups or populist movements? How does today’s media coverage shape the conversation? In this course, we will explore ways of understanding these problems that seek to restore civil discourse. We will engage recent scholarship across disciplines calling for a closer examination of the roles of humiliation, dignity and ‘the politics of resentment’ in history and in our time.

In our increasingly globalized world, we have unprecedented opportunities to learn from and with people and cultures different from our own. But in many cases, where some see opportunity, others see and experience threat. Terrorist groups attack nations that they believe have marginalized and disrespected them. In countries throughout the world, we see anti-immigration activity organized by nationalist groups, who believe they are defending a threatened ‘core’ identity. Other groups react against the economic or security threat they believe these ‘outsiders’ pose.

Some believe our world has always been ordered by a competition for domination; for millennia, cultures of honor everywhere have sought to dominate or retaliate against others to secure resources and respect. But are these stances productive, sustainable, or inevitable? Can new ways of thinking about identity help us to defuse some of the violence and misunderstanding in the world today?

Course Summary: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes.

Course Readings (subject to change):

  • Jan-Werner Muller, What is Populism?
  • Francis Fukuyama, Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment
  • Evelin Lindner, Honor, Humiliation and Terror (excerpts)

MAS 633 Science, Environment, and Media

Course Goals:

  • Synthesize and apply scientific principles to the review of popular print and digital media to evaluate environmental issues.
  • Conceptualize historic and current global environmental problems as systems from a scientific perspective.
  • Critique claims and evaluate media related to environmental issues in order to make decisions on everyday issues as a non-scientist.
  • Define scientific terminology, methodologies, and concepts on environmental issues.

Course Summary: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes

Textbook: Our Global Environment: A Health Perspective. Ann Nadakavukaren. Long Grove, IL:
Waveland Press.

Required Culminating Experience

MAS 695 Applied Capstone Experience

Course Goals:

  • Synthesize information from multiple disciplines and coursework into a project that brings together elements of the degree in a real-world solution.
  • Analyze a real-world problem and its possible solutions
  • Research, develop, and implement a Master’s in Liberal and Interdisciplinary Studies Capstone Project
    • Integrate knowledge and skills from your Plan of Study courses
    • Relate your Plan of Study and your Master’s in Liberal and Interdisciplinary Studies Capstone Project to your personal or professional goals
    • Present your Master’s in Liberal and Interdisciplinary Studies Capstone Project to faculty and peers

Course Summary: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes.

Elective Courses

5 elective courses are required to complete your experience.

Choose from the Master’s in Liberal and Interdisciplinary Studies courses here. Courses not chosen as your 2 Applied Studio Skills or 3 Liberal Arts and Sciences can also be used as electives.

Outside electives may be considered when a Master’s in Liberal and Interdisciplinary Studies course is not available, but it needs prior approval from the program.

MAS 610 Electives

Culture and Ideas: Artistic, literary, philosophical, or religious traditions, works of particular thinkers, and historical discourse on intellectual issues

Contemporary Media Literacies

Today, power flows through media in digital networks. In order to gain access to that power (and not be controlled by it), you have to be fluent in the media used within those networks. Contemporary Media Literacies asks you to rethink what it means to be literate in a globally connected world, taking literacy beyond traditional print-based media to multiple forms of knowing, including genres that consider visual representations, spatial relationships, sounds, gestures, and movement, as well as any multi-modal combination of these literacies. This course immerses you in the theory and practice of multiple literacies and considers how globalization has created more complex working and living environments. You will explore an area of research within your field of study that addresses real-world problems. The project results in a well-researched, multi-modal, multi-genre digital portfolio that is a critical and intellectual investigation, illustrating disciplinary and professional knowledge by applying contemporary media literacies with rhetorical intention.

Course Summary: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes.

Global Arts: Windows into the Hearts of Other Cultures

Can we appreciate the arts of cultures foreign to us? Is translation necessary? Does a culture’s sense of time and space affect its artistic expressions? Global arts provide a helpful window into the hearts of other cultures. In this course we will expand our ways of thinking/sensing/feeling to prepare for a comparative exploration of the arts of four different cultures beyond our own. We survey the past and present arts of these countries for clues to common themes and ideas while attempting to discover the distinct world views represented.

Course Summary: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes.

Rights and Wrongs: Theories of Social Justice

This course asks, “How so?” in the context of American history. We are going to be looking at American history, our past up to our present, in terms of freedom and civil rights, the franchise, and economic and social welfare, seeing their pursuit as three separate but often overlapping and intertwined stories. (For shorthand purposes, keep in mind the acronym FFW—freedom, franchise, and welfare.) We will trace this pursuit over the course of three centuries, keeping in mind the three (conceptually) separate stages. We will identify the major issues of each stage through the voices of both contemporaries (opponents as well as proponents of change) and modern commentators and scholars. We will watch how and how far we have gone through each of the three stages of progress and try finally to assess just where we are on this journey or arc today. This is a very important (and ongoing) American story. But it is also, more generally, the story of the modern world, or, to put it another way, the story of the (ongoing) human experience in the modern world.

Course Summary: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes.

The Dragon Awakes: Charting the Path of Modern China

Napoleon once famously admonished Europe to “let China sleep, for when she awakes she will shake the world.” In recent years the People’s Republic of China has certainly stirred, and the whole world has taken notice. However, China’s economic stirrings have been accompanied by mounting social and cultural tensions at the heart of Chinese society. In this course we will examine the political, social and cultural roots of modern China and discuss the varied nature of the nation’s future challenges. Topics will include state, society, and mass culture in the throes of reform, the global implications of China’s economic and diplomatic “Grand Strategy,” the widening urban-rural divide, and the role of the individual and individual dissent in modern Chinese society.

Course Summary: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes.

The Islamic World: Perceptions and Realities

September 11, 2001, obviously changed the world, and one of the ways this is apparent is with the increased interest of Americans in the Islamic world. This course seeks to place the modern Islamic world in an historical context, with an emphasis on how people in the West perceive Islam, as well as how Muslims see themselves. We will begin by tracing the roots of Islam to the era of the prophet Muhammad and charting the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire, but our primary focus is the contemporary history of several countries within the Islamic realm. We will not focus on Islam as a religion. Themes for the course include the Islamic world’s relations with the West; the differences within Islam as well as within and between Islamic countries; gender relations within the Islamic world; the Arab-Israeli conflict and its significance to the broader Islamic world; and the rise of modern terrorism in the Middle East. We will finish the course by focusing on the Arab-Israeli conflict and its general significance for the Islamic world. Students will come away from the course with an understanding of the historical roots of Islam and of the contemporary Islamic world.

Course Summary: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes.

Voices from Latin America

Voices from Latin America: The Modern Period” aims to educate students about contemporary Latin American society and culture from the perspective of historical memory. After brief explorations of Latin America’s modern history and historiography, the course delves into the study of historical memories of the Cold War period in two Latin American countries: Chile and Guatemala. The course looks at the relation between history and memory through documentary films, a classic novel, and some scholarly sources. For the final project students will have the opportunity to create an electronic portfolio based on one of the Latin American countries using the online service

Course Summary: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes.


  • John C. Chasteen, Born in Blood in Fire, 3rd edition (WWNorton, 2011).
  • James A. Wood, Problems in Modern Latin American History, 4th edition (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014).
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude, any paperback edition will do (recommend Harper Perennial reprint edition of 2006 translated by Gregory Rabassa).

MAS 620

Human Nature and Society: Issues concerning human nature, society, or political life through works or problems from the various social sciences

Contemporary Warfare

This course affords you the opportunity to investigate current global conflicts from multiple perspectives. Begin by examining the definition of warfare, the key terms associated with warfare, and how both have changed over time. Become familiar with the history of warfare, its weapons, and how wars begin and end. The latter half of the course provides an overview of ongoing contemporary military conflicts between the United States and various adversaries including China, Russia, Iraq, North Korea, and Afghanistan. An emphasis is placed on how technology is changing the way the United States (and our adversaries) achieve military objectives in the air, on land, in and under the sea, and in cyberspace.

Course Summary
: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes.

Crafting Your Online Presence

In this course, you will develop and refine your personal and professional goals while creating an online portfolio. You will reflect on your experiences and frame them with a new vocabulary and style. By better understanding your story, who you are, and how you present yourself online, you will develop online presentation strategies  for meeting your goals. Through the lens of the rhetorical triangle, each week you will engage in a variety of activities, readings, videos, and discussions with other students centered on the questions of Who Am I, Who is My Audience, and What is My Message. This project will help you organize your experiences in a concrete and creative format so that you can authentically communicate your story online.

Course Summary: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes.

Dangerous Minds: Understanding Terrorism

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 as transform the structures that encourage terrorism.

Course Summary: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes.

Ethical Leadership

Course Description: In this course, you will develop your own ethical leadership perspective and connect it to your own work experiences and goals. We start by reflecting on different types of leadership and relating these to your own core values. Next, we’ll identify common ethical frameworks and behaviors people bring to the workplace, and we’ll practice developing empathy and resolving conflicts that happen when these worldviews clash. We’ll explore successful examples of companies that have consciously balanced the tradeoffs of sustainability and profit. We’ll also analyze cases where there have been failures in ethical leadership and generate ideas for creating an organizational culture that makes these failures less likely. Finally, we’ll expand our scope to include leading ethically over the long-term, with virtual teams, and in global organizational settings.

Course Summary: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes.

Global and Intercultural Engagement

Together, we’ll develop and enhance critical intercultural competency skills, focusing on recognizing the needs of oppressed and marginalized groups, with a particular lens on issues of race and gender equity. You’ll examine your existing cultural perspectives and interconnections with groups that have a history of oppression, with sensitivity and respect for differences in perspectives, experiences, and values of others. We’ll explore ways to develop effective change strategies that will help you to promote social justice and intercultural understanding within your communities and beyond. You will emerge from this course with a holistic, empathetic approach to fostering connections between individuals and across cultures.

Course Summary: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes.

MAS 630

Scientific Reasoning: Reflections on scientific reasoning and/or investigations of particular problems to illustrate scientific reasoning

Applied Project Management

The intent of this course is to assist you in developing self-awareness related to formal project management and
to build on your foundation, while expanding your understanding of both project management concepts and the
practical techniques to facilitate your professional and personal growth. Upon completion of the course, you’ll
have designed your own repeatable process for effective project management that will serve you throughout
your professional career.

Course Summary: A broad overview of the course content and learning outcomes.

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