While most students question the necessity of liberal studies requirements, they are an integral part of the educational process. The point of being formally educated is that you emerge with a broader understanding of the world, which includes basic knowledge of subjects outside of your area of expertise.
As a student, you pay thousands of dollars to take classes that are required for the liberal studies aspect of your degree. It is important to take liberal studies classes that are worthwhile and interesting to you, and not to take liberal studies class because your friends said that they were easy.
Your overall education holds a higher value than your GPA, and it’s far better to come out of a class learning something than to come out of it with an A and nothing else. It’s also important to note that classes that I enjoyed are not necessarily ones that you will enjoy, and it’s important to take into account your own strengths and interests when choosing your classes.
Here are my favorite classes and professors that I took for liberal studies requirements.
1. Dr. Patrick Burkhart – Intro to Environmental Geology
Who cares about geology, right? It’s a tedious study of the Earth, tectonic plates, volcanoes, and bodies of water. Nothing that personally related to my major, and it would be boring, but I figured I’d take it because I already knew the basics of geology. On the first day of this class, I found out that I’d never been more wrong about anything in all of my life. Who cares about geology? Dr. Burkhart does, and he makes you care, too. He is so wildly passionate about his field and does an excellent job at conveying that passion to his class. He grounds your understanding in geology to real life natural disasters and how they affect people. It’s hard to ignore the picture he paints of how humans affect and are affected by the earth. If you’re looking for an easy A, then I’d advise you to look somewhere else. Dr. Burkhart challenges your understanding of geology, and even your worldviews. He is not an easy professor, but he will teach you very valuable things that relate to your real life (I’ll never live in the floodplain, Dr. B). I even went back to take his lab because I loved his teaching so much.
2. Dr. Andrew Colvin – World Religions and Intro to Logic
Philosophy can be abstract to even the ablest of minds, and training your brain to think in a different way than you have your whole life can be extremely difficult. Dr. Colvin approaches this very carefully and is very understanding and patient when helping his students. He really wants and encourages students to express their own thoughts and ideas, and never discredits opinions. In World Religions, we had a predominantly Christian class. He was very respectful toward those students’ views, but still challenged them to try to understand their religion from a different perspective, as well as other religions outside of their own. He also had wonderful stories from when he lived in Asia and experienced different cultures and religions there. In Intro to Logic, Dr. Colvin took time out of class to help individual students, and even started lectures over again if he didn’t feel as though the class had a full understanding. We had several quizzes on the material every week in both classes, but it helped gauge understanding and proved that students were doing the work required of them.
3. Dr. Kurt Pitluga – Overview of Western Art
I took Dr. Pitluga for my first semester of my freshman year in a lecture hall, and despite the fact that I had a crush on the boy who sat in front of me during my time there, I still remember most of what I learned. If that’s not a testament to the success of the class, I don’t know what is. He understood that to the majority of people in the class, art wasn’t important, but he didn’t let that stop him from making it interesting for everyone in the room. He presented fine art in a down-to-earth manner, never taking it too seriously. This made everyone more receptive to learning about it. He held the attention of the whole class just because he had very interesting things to say, and was very knowledgeable about the subject.
4. Dr. Derrick Pitard – Selected Topics
As a communication major with a writing minor, I didn’t want to write about communication or English professors because I’m too close with them to write about their teaching objectively (I don’t pick favorites, and I love you all equally). But, I took three classes with Dr. Pitard, and they were all challenging and wonderful. I’d recommend these classes mostly to avid readers, as you’ll read a lot in his courses, but you’ll be rewarded with interesting discussion and a better understanding of the topics you cover. I took both Arthurian and Apocalyptic Literature with Dr. Pitard. Apocalyptic Literature is great for anyone, even if your degree has nothing to do with literature.There was a lot of dynamic material in this class, and we watched “The Walking Dead” and read the corresponding graphic novels.
Whichever classes you choose, I hope you take into account what you’re interested in, but also have goals and try to challenge yourself academically.
Many of my most rewarding classes at SRU weren’t ones that were for my major, and I even ended up picking up a minor because I had a really good creative writing class.