Simon Fraser University

Liberal studies adds value to career success

Michael Kenny, 778.782.5196;
Trish Graham, GLS program, 778.782.5855;
Renee Haggart, 604.224.4836;
Carol Thorbes, PAMR, 778.782.3035;

January 11, 2011
Given these high pressure, go-go times, who would enthusiastically pursue a graduate degree in liberal studies on top of a successful career and family commitments?

Simon Fraser University sociology and anthropology professor, Michael Kenny could write an extended essay on that. But instead, he suggests attending SFU’s Graduate Liberal Studies (GLS) open house information sessions on either Jan. 20 or March 3, 7 – 9 p.m. at the SFU Vancouver campus in Harbour Centre.

GLS instructors, students and alumni will discuss the benefits of pursuing a master’s degree in liberal studies, regardless of professional accomplishments.

Kenny, GLS interim director, emphasizes the program is specifically for mid-career adults who have already made their marks in the real world. “As their application essays show, incoming students now wish to turn to things that they may once have encountered as undergraduates, but could not pursue because of the exigencies of job and family,” explains Kenny.

“Literature, philosophy, religion, the sciences, the arts — subjects pertaining to the meaning and value of life — are precisely what make liberal studies of perennial relevance at any level. They enhance our ability to look outside the box into how things are interconnected.

“From this point of view, economic goals are not the main concern at all, though degrees in the classical liberal arts have proven positive impacts on employment potential and future income.”

Kenny notes an MA in liberal studies often furthers teachers’ professional development and becomes a springboard towards a doctorate in a specialized subject.

Renee Haggart, an SFU alumna who recently landed a plum position at the University of British Columbia, attributes the outcome almost wholly to skills gained in her acquisition of an SFU GLS degree.

“The skills I gained through experiencing the program’s seminars, presentations, and of course the pursuit of my thesis, have made me far more assertive and self-possessed. I’m thankful to GLS for opening up this major career opportunity to me."

This year’s GLS programming will offer again an initiative first launched last year — a four-part Friday evening seminar series and retreat on Bowen Island for GLS alumni. Space permitting, the program is open to non-alumni. More than a dozen students enrolled in each of last year’s inaugural offerings.

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