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MLS 600 - A message from faculty

The goal of this seminar is two-fold; there is a theoretical as well as practical goal.

Theoretically, we want students to begin to think about how research and knowledge construction occur, both in traditional disciplines and in several kinds of inter-disciplinary work. We want them to carry this awareness into all of their Master of Liberal Studies Program courses as an aid to developing the kind of reflection a graduate education requires. Toward this end, we will discuss both the traditional roles of theory and method, as well as the potentially constitutive roles of political and social context. We will look at selected disciplines in the humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and natural and physical sciences.

Practically, we want to help students construct a tentative plan of study for their Master of Liberal Studies Program and a proposal for their Master of Liberal Studies capstone project. We will help them develop a guiding theme for their Master of Liberal Studies Program, one that will organize both the 500G courses they choose, as well as their participation in the 620 MLS seminars. We will help them as well, in creating a tentative proposal and background biography for their capstone project.

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Past MLS 620 Explorations Offerings

Art and Social Control (Fall 2009 & Spring 2013)

Professors Bob Gremore and Carolyn Whitson

The topic of art and social control invites students to examine how political, religious, and social power have spoken in works of art--and also to consider how the less powerful have used art to talk back. The course looks at sculpture, painting, architecture, photography, and such verbal texts as poetry and song lyrics. We will focus especially on artworks from across the historical and geographical spectrum whose discourse is about individual and group identity, power relations among groups, or social behavior. (By "social behavior" we mean either the "appropriate" or assumed behavior of people who belong to particular social groups, or the behavior of individuals in any public setting.)

The goal of the exploration will be to situate works of art in their historical and cultural context by understanding them as "voices" in a discourse of power and selfhood. That is, we want to interrogate how specific works of art may function in particular historical circumstances to give people understandings of who they are, how they fit into the social order, and what their possibilities in life are.

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Race: The Excavation of an Idea (Fall 2009)

Professor Aureliano DeSoto

This course examines the concept of race, posed through a series of questions: What is race? How have we come to understand what exactly constitutes the category race? Appearance? Essence or spirit? Social and political Identities? Cultural or geographic heritage? National identity? What are the historical and theoretical approaches to describing "race," and how have these approaches determined how race is understood and circulates as a term of knowledge? Using a wide range of readings, the course begins with a chronological study of the emergence and development of race as a philosophical, social, and political idea grounded in eighteenth and nineteenth century thought, and how this emergence relates to slavery, colonialism, and social and political equality. Following this, we shall look at contemporary responses to the legacy of race thinking that is implicit in and flows from these intellectual foundations.

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Creative Writing and Asian Poetic Tradition (Spring 2010)

Professors Beverly Hill and Edward Lee

In this course, students will become acquainted with the major poetic forms of the classical Chinese tradition (in translation). Poetry of the neighboring traditions of Korea, Japan, and Vietnam, which were strongly influenced by Chinese poetic norms, will also be examined, as well as some related Asian and Asian-American poems. Through discussion, exercises, and appropriate prompts, students will begin to write their own poems, exploring their own attitudes, observations, and voices through the framework of East Asian poetic forms and themes.

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Globalization (Spring 2010)

Professors Mark Nowak, Rafael Ortiz, and Thor Wagstrom

The idea that we live in a rapidly globalizing world is part of conventional wisdom. But what exactly is globalization? What are its historical roots? What are its geographical manifestations? How do different actors interpret and negotiate change associated with it? This course unpacks the concept of "globalization" from a variety of disciplinary and experiential perspectives, an approach premised on the idea that globalization is a contested concept that can mean different things to different people. Students will investigate these multiple meaning through the lenses of history, geography, literature, political and social analysis and film.In addition to shared reading and discussion, students will conduct and present individual research on a topic related to the course theme.

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Gender, Sport, and Culture (Fall 2007)

Professors Anne Aronson and Maythee Kantar

This course explores the gender and sport from multiple perspectives, beginning with theoretical foundations based in women's studies. How have traditional constructions of femininity worked toward the exclusion and marginalized of women in sport? How is masculinity expressed, embodied, and reproduced through organized sports? The course looks as several historical periods and cases to provide background, including Ancient Greek beliefs about the male body; the backlash against the growth of women's sport in the 20s and 30s; the effects of Title IX; and athletes used as Cold War propaganda. Finally, the course will focus on the contemporary landscape for gender and sport from an international perspective. Topics for this last segment of the course include women's access to sport in developing countries; violence and the male athlete; gender, the media and the Olympics; the relationship between sport and fitness in American and other societies. Readings cover a number of disciplinary perspectives including historical accounts; literary works; sociological studies; and primary media sources (magazines, newspapers, TV clips, films). Students are required to do one traditionally academic writing project and one non-academic writing project. In addition, the must lead class discussion on their research.

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One World and Many: Multiple Perspectives on Globalization (Spring 2008)

Professors Goldade, O'Connell, and Wagstrom

The idea that we live in a rapidly globalizing world is part of conventional wisdom. Bust what exactly is globalization? What are its historical roots? Does globalization mean we are headed toward a global monoculture, world governance, a more fully integrated world economy? Who benefits from globalization and who does not? In this course we begin with tech premise that globalization is a contested concept that is best understood through exploring its historical, economic, political, cultural and ideological dimensions. Together we will explore these multiple meanings through lenses of history, literature, social analysis and film. In addition to shared reading and discussion, students will conduct and present individual research on a topic related to the course theme.

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The Chapbook Workshop (Fall 2008)

Professors Patterson and Rasmussen

The relationships between poetry and visual art can be straightforward, as when ekphrastic poems and the works of visual art that inspired them are studied together. At other times the connections may be more subtle, as when a trend in poetic style or subject matter coincides with trends in mart making. The Chapbook Workshop explores poetry and book-making/publishing traditions with an eye toward their expressive relationships. The majority of the contact hours will devoted to the activities of writing and book construction. Patterson will conduct his sessions on campus. Rassmussen will conduct her sessions at Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Lectures, demonstrations, hands-on studio work, discussions and independent research will also be included. From haikus to accordion folds, this course will familiarize the advanced student with the basic principles and techniques of chapbook development, so that simple yet sophisticated works can ben conjured into material form.

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Technological Momentum and User Voices (Spring 2009)

Professors Frazzini and Sadler

The understanding of technology in its broadest sense has become a necessary element of a liberal education that creates informed and engaged citizens, and we begin with an attempt to construct a meaningful definition of technology. The global presence, growth, and political influence of socio-technical systems demands that we not only understand the origins of these systems, but also understand the power of users. Certainly the uses of technology are dependent upon societal situations, and we will examine the forces affecting the growth, support, and failure of technologies, including Thomas Edison's light bulb and distribution system; transportation systems; bridges; dams; the Challenger space shuttle explosion; and information technologies. Each of these represents a rich source of knowledge about the way technology "is done," as well as significant cultural differences in use. The seminar's overarching question--Does technology determine how you use it, or do you determine how you use technology?--is the thread that weaves together all of our seminar readings. Incorporating film clips and community assets, such as a museum visit, theatrical play, or guest lecturer, we learn how to become more sophisticated users of, and more creative shapers of, technology.

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Art and War (Spring 2009)

Professor Margot Galt

With a global perspective, reaching back to the Greeks, Renaissance England, the World Wars, and up to the Iraq war, this course blends literature and the visual arts (painting, sculpture, photography, graphics, film) to consider how war's heroism has changed to awareness of its boredom and horror. We focus on civilian experience, soldiers' long road to recover, and war's economic, political, environmental connections. Texts and images include: Shakespeare's Henry IV part I; Goya's "Disasters of War," photographs and oral histories from the Civil War and the Dakota Conflict, World War I German novels and American propaganda; World War II Nazi films and Holocaust children's poetry, plus Eli Weisel's survivor's tale "Night." We'll read John Hersey's Hiroshima, a comic-book novel about the Iran conflict called Persepolis, and Hmong escape narratives. From more current conflicts, Farah's novel about returning to Somalia after Civil War, Tim O'Brian's surreal novel about Vietnam, and a memoir about serving in Iraq. Students conduct oral histories, write research papers about the science of the A or H bombs, or about other ramifications of wars, including pacifist protest, or create multi-media presentations connecting the visual with the literary.

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Master of Liberal Studies Program Electives

Each Master of Liberal Studies Program student is required to complete 12 elective graduate credits, in addition to MLS 600, three sections of MLS 620, and MLS 690. Please note these points regarding Master of Liberal Studies Program electives:

  • The main consideration for Master of Liberal Studies Program electives is stated in the Master of Liberal Studies Program catalog description: "Students create major research projects aligned with their personal educational goals, and support and develop their work on these projects through a series of graduate-level elective courses or independent studies." So Master of Liberal Studies Program electives are expected to be clearly relevant to the student's Master of Liberal Studies Program. In most cases Master of Liberal Studies Program electives build skills and knowledge in liberal arts disciplines related to the development of the student's master's thesis. A professional or technical graduate course with little or no liberal arts content is not appropriate as an Master of Liberal Studies Program elective. Final authority over whether or not any elective credit applies to a student's Master of Liberal Studies Programresides with the Master of Liberal Studies Program director or advisor.
  • Given the interdisciplinary nature of the Master of Liberal Studies Program, it is likely and often desirable that a student's graduate electives come from two or three different liberal arts disciplines.
  • Metropolitan State Master of Liberal Studies Program electives must be at the 500G-level or higher. That "G" is required. Plain 500-level courses do not count as Master of Liberal Studies Program electives, but with instructor agreement, registration as 500G, with commensurate work, is possible.
  • Many Master of Liberal Studies Program students use 3 graduate courses of 4 credits each as their electives, but other combinations of credit sizes are allowed, so long as the elective total is at least 12 credits.
  • Of the Master of Liberal Studies Program's 32 credits, a minimum of 24 must be taken at Metropolitan State: MLS 600, 3 sections of MLS 620, MLS 690, and 4 elective credits. This means that up to 8 graduate credits earned at another institution may be applied as Master of Liberal Studies Program elective credits.
  • Up to 8 graduate credits (earned anywhere) before a student enters the Master of Liberal Studies Program may be applied to the Master of Liberal Studies Program, provided that those credits are not part of any other completed degree program, and that the credits are clearly relevant to the student's Master of Liberal Studies Program.
  • Master of Liberal Studies Program electives could theoretically be any combination of graduate courses, graduate Student Designed Independent Studies (SDIS), graduate Faculty Designed Independent Studies (FDIS), graduate internships, or graduate prior learning.
  • Master of Liberal Studies Program students are expected to take MLS 600 first, and MLS 690 last. In between, the order in which students take their MLS 620 Explorations and electives is flexible.

MLS 690 Capstone

Master of Liberal Studies Program capstone projects are characterized by:

  • The opportunity to pursue self-directed, interdisciplinary interests;
  • Interdisciplinary perspectives inclusive of diverse viewpoints, anchored in the liberal arts;
  • The application of critical thinking skills;
  • Primary and secondary research, sufficient in depth and breadth to be commensurate with graduate-level work.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Enriched understanding of the student's own self-directed capstone project topic.
  • Enriched understanding of the self-directed capstone topics of other MLS students.
  • Enriched ability to present liberal arts research results, both orally and in writing.
  • Application of critical thinking and rhetorical skills.

Learning Strategies and Activities:

  • During the introductory portion of the course, students will participate in exercises and activities designed to consolidate and focus the elements of their MLS 690 Capstone proposals, and learn as well how other members of their MLS class articulate and problem-solve in the organization and completion of their projects. Students will receive training and forms to develop and enhance constructive critiques in the peer conferences.
  • During the middle portion of the course, students will be responsible for turning in high-quality drafts of their projects, submitted for the analysis and commentary of the other class members, and of the MLS 690 team teachers.
  • During the final portion of the course, the faculty team and students will organize appropriately structured opportunities for oral presentations on the projects, and submit final versions of their projects. 

Evaluation criteria would be those appropriate for post-BA, generalist, self-directed research-or practice-based achievement in terminal Master of Liberal Studies Program. Besides evaluation by the team teachers, each project is evaluated by a faculty consultant from a discipline related to the project. The faculty consultant(s) for each project must be identified and confirmed before the student enrolls in MLS 690, through a process coordinated by the advisor. The faculty consultant reviews the draft and final versions of a project, and then send a report to the MLS 690 instructors for their consideration in determining the student's final grade.

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