Curriculum

The central theme of the Program is an exploration of significant tensions within our intellectual culture, tensions that have historical origins and practical consequences in our present world. To this end, each of the seminars is shaped around an issue of perennial human concern, an issue that both reflects some of the central dilemmas that have marked human civilization, and provides an intellectual and cultural context for contemporary problems. Each of the seminars draws upon material from across academic disciplines and across historical periods in order to undertake a wide-ranging, yet coherent investigation of the course theme.

Graduate Liberal Studies courses can be challenging, but they are also very rewarding.  Classes are presented as a seminar style which encourages lively discussion and debate as we make our way through the substantial material.  Each GLS student is required to take our foundational LS800 and LS801 courses in their first year of enrollment, and the Master's of Arts degree can be completed by either taking an additional four courses and presenting a Master's project or two extended essays, or by completing an additional six courses, two of which may be other graduate-level courses from other disciplines if that better fits within the student's unique academic path.

For current course outlines, see our courses page. In addition to course work, the program sponsors a variety of public lectures and symposia. There are also opportunities for exchanges with other universities and for travel study.

LS 800: Reflections on Reason and Passion I explores various attitudes towards the human passions through classic authors. The course examines the profound expressions of feeling in some of the great works of modern literature and art, and investigates some recent critical perspectives on the nature of emotional experience. This course will emphasize close reading and discussion of works, drawn from different cultures and epochs, that reflect on human passion.

LS 801: Reflections on Reason and Passion II examines some ideas about reason and the rational life as well as critical perspectives on the Western faith in reason. While the texts to be studied range from classic to contemporary, the focus of the seminar is on the European Enlightenment and on the place of rationality in a revolutionary era.

LS 810: Self and Society will examine some aspects of the relationship between selfhood, as idea and experience, and social organization. Approaches to the topic will vary, but may involve scientific, social scientific, philosophical and aesthetic perspectives.

LS 812: Science and Human Values will deal with issues surrounding the nature of the scientific attitude, the growth of scientific knowledge and the impact of scientific and technological change, with specific attention to the value implications of science and technology in relation to other forms of human understanding and experience.

LS 813: Religious and Secular World Views will deal with conflicts and continuities of secular and religious approaches to such fundamental issues as the origins of the universe,and of the human species, human virtue, and human destiny.

LS 814: Liberty and Authority will examine the tension between liberty and authority as expressed in some of the following: political and judicial ideas and systems; conflicting economic ideologies; personal relationships.

LS 815: Organizing Social Realities: Gender, Class, Race and Nation will examine how distinctions among people create pattern and conflict, by studying some of the fundamental organizing concepts of society which both unite and divide people.

LS 819: Travel Study Each year the Graduate Liberal Studies program offers travel study courses, offered either as regular SFU summer courses, or in collaboration with other international liberal studies programs.

LS 829: Directed Study provides an opportunity for individual study on a topic of the student's choice, under the guidance of one or more faculty. Arrangements must be approved in advance by the Graduate Program Chair, Gary McCarron.  Normally, no more than two such offerings may count toward the Liberal Studies degree. The Directed Study Approval form must be completed and submitted to the office for approval. 

LS 898: Graduating Seminar is the final seminar for students who choose the course option to complete requirements for the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree. Returning to the themes of the core courses, this seminar will focus again on issues of passion and reason. It will aim to be integrative, addressing the more sophisticated, complex understandings developed through the intervening period of study.

LS 998: MA Extended Essays Students will present two of their essays for formal examination in order to satisfy the Simon Fraser University requirements for a Master's degree. If not completed in term of registration, students must register for LS 990: Extended Essays Completion until defended and submitted.

LS 999: MA Project Students will present one project for formal examination in order to satisfy the Simon Fraser University requirements for a Master's degree. If not completed in term of registration, students must register for LS 991: MA Project Completion until defended and submitted.

"I found within GLS something that I didn’t even know that I was looking for: a path to living a "good life" that works for me, and the confidence to follow it."