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Liberal Studies

Krista BaileyKrista Bailey

What are some of the pleasures of an interdisciplinary approach--either in a particular seminar you recall, or in your final project, or in something you've done after or outside the program?
I never saw what I did - nor what I do now - as being outside or beyond the scope of my graduate studies. Life is learning and learning is life, and being complex things I think life and learning are best approached and addressed in an interdisciplinary fashion.  That said, I particularly recall a science seminar with Jay VanderVeen that really challenged the class in terms of thinking about science as a integral part of our everyday lives, and that really underscored the importance of understanding science, as well as a humanities seminar with April Lidinsky that challenged me to put music, poetry, and cultural revolution through a scientific lens as well as a social science lens while appreciating and understanding the creativity and roots of individual and collective expression that underscore the humanities. It was great in both of these very different courses to still be able to focus on different angles of my research into sustainable urban food systems.  Since graduating, I have been teaching sustainability through university courses, workshops, social media, and other research and writing. It is a field that demands an interdisciplinary approach, and I feel uniquely qualified to be working in this field because of the work I did in the masters of liberal studies program.

What did you enjoy or benefit from in your graduate seminars?
I loved the wide range of classmates and instructors. A diverse group was represented in each seminar, bringing with them their particular talents and special areas of interest or research. I loved how it was understood that all of us were learning together - at least until the thesis preparation course! That was one where having a guide (the instructor) who knew what we should be doing and what exactly was expected was very helpful. I got such great feedback from my classmates in that course as well, and although none of them had the same regards focus as I did, I feel that their input was enriching and rewarding.

What did you enjoy or benefit from in your final project?
I enjoyed the fact that I designed it based on what I was interested in learning, what I had researched in almost every seminar I took, and that I was able to blend my research with applied work I was doing in the community (gardens, markets, local food co-op, etc.). Learning from both a practical and applied approach and from an interdisciplinary academic approach helped inspire and motivate my throughout my work on my thesis.

How has the MLS program's interdisciplinary approach served you in the workplace or as an active citizen or as a lifelong learner?
After beginning the MLS program, I realized I have always tried to take an interdisciplinary approach to what I was learning and doing both in school and out, but never had a "formal" way to do it. As a biology major with a minor in women's studies, I was constantly seeking to blend my research and studies across disciplinary lines. It was such a relief to find a program that encouraged this instead of being confused by it! Having practiced life and learning as an "interdisciplinarian" I feel I have truly been trained as a public intellectual. I can learn from a variety of perspectives and distill a wide range of ideas into understandable discourse and public discussion. I feel this is extremely important in the field of sustainability, and with working on community gardens and local food issues, which I have continued to do since graduating.

Brenda LucasBrenda Lucas

What are some of the pleasures of an interdisciplinary approach--either in a particular seminar you recall, or in your final project, or in something you've done after or outside the program?
The benefits of the MLS program's interdisciplinary approach are proving invaluable as I attend law school. I am able to better grasp the law and to apply it to fact patterns because of the MLS program's interdisciplinary approach that helped me to be able to understand the policies that drive those laws.

What did you enjoy or benefit from in your graduate seminars?
I loved the wide range of classmates and instructors. A diverse group was represented in each seminar, bringing with them their particular talents and special areas of interest or research. i loved how it was understood that all of us were learning together - at least until the thesis preparation course! That was one where having a guide (the instructor) who knew what we should be doing and what exactly was expected was very helpful. I got such great feedback from my classmates in that course as well, and although none of them had the same regards focus an I did, I feel that their input was enriching and rewarding.

How has the MLS program's interdisciplinary approach served you in the workplace or as an active citizen or as a lifelong learner?
After beginning the MLS program, I realized I have always tried to take an interdisciplinary approach to what I was learning and doing both in school and out, but never had a "formal" way to do it. As a biology major with a minor in women's studies, I was constantly seeking to blend my research and studies across disciplinary lines. It was such a relief to find a program that encouraged this instead of being confused by it! Having practiced life and learning as an "interdisciplinarian" I feel I have truly been trained as a public intellectual. I can learn from a variety of perspectives and distill a wide range of ideas into understandable discourse and public discussion. I feel this is extremely important in the field of sustainability, and with working on community gardens and local food issues, which I have continued to do since graduating.

Kathleen Petitjean

Kathleen Petitjean

What are some of the pleasures of an interdisciplinary approach--either in a particular seminar you recall, or in your final project, or in something you've done after or outside the program?
Combining the writing, blogging and presenting skills I acquired in my MLS seminars allowed me to take a subject that piqued my interest in the Science Seminar and "take it on the road." This opened the door to meeting great people doing great things with a couple of great things of my own in the mix.

What did you enjoy or benefit from in your graduate seminars?
With a bachelor's degree in a specific field of rehabilitation medicine, I longed to "round out" my education; the MLS program provided opportunities to stretch my mind in places it hadn't gone before.

What did you enjoy or benefit from in your final project?
Creating a blog site related to my interest in the River and renewable energy was the platform from which I was asked to serve on South Bend's Green Ribbon Commission. The day the City installed "Little Gennie," the 62 kW hydro turbine, on the East Race was thrilling for me in particular, knowing the part I'd played in getting this to happen.

How has the MLS program's interdisciplinary approach served you in the workplace or as an active citizen or as a lifelong learner?
I continue to grow as an activist for all things sustainable and have been asked to speak before groups of people, serve on advisory boards and task forces to help advance those goals. The MLS program helped form the launching platform for my new organization, Greening the Bend, which seems to have touched a vein of excitement in our community.

Michael Snyder

Michael Snyder

My final project, a thesis, emerged from research that was rooted in an interdisciplinary potpourri of English literature, history, oral history, social sciences, and statistics. Through my work on the thesis, I grew as a scholar, a writer, and a human being. The MLS program is what education should be.