Graduate Liberal Studies Program


GLS (MALS) and Conflict Management and Resolution
GLS (MALS) and Women's and Gender Studies

GLS Classes

Aside from GLS 502: Contemporary Issues in Liberal Studies and GLS 598: Final Project in Liberal Studies, GLS General Concentration courses are arranged on the basis of three broad thematic areas:

  • social concerns and cultural systems (GLS 510-529)
  • environment, science, and society (GLS 530-535)
  • literature, arts, and society (GLS 560-569)

Depending on the topic, GLS 592: Special Topics in Liberal Studies generally conforms to one of the three thematic areas specified above. GLS students also have the option of undertaking a directed independent study (DIS) in graduate liberal studies (GLS 591) under the supervision of a qualified faculty person. DIS projects must be approved by the student's academic advisor, the instructor, the GLS Program Director and the Dean of the Graduate School.

Note: Forms requesting DIS courses must be submitted to the GLS office at least two working days prior to the relevant semester/session drop/add deadline.

Note: Course titles (underlined green text) provide links to course descriptions expanded beyond the brief UNCW catalogue descriptions provided below. Please be aware that if the course is not being offered in the current or upcoming semesters/summer sessions, the expanded course descriptions may contain outdated information on book requirements, course evaluation criteria/processes, attendance requirements, etc. In these cases,, the content of the expanded course description is "For Your Information" only. No action, e.g., purchase of books, etc., should be taken based on content in dormant courses.

The above statement does NOT apply to the GLS 598, GLS 597 and GLS 599 links. These links take you to other "major" instructional web pages on this website.

GLS 502 Contemporary Issues in Liberal Studies (3) Required for all MALS students. A review of critical issues in liberal studies that may be influencing disciplinary methodology, discourse or research techniques. Emphasis on forms of oral and written communication, and research methods.

GLS 510 Religion and Sex (3) Through an examination of the major world religions' views on sex, procreation, marriage, abstinence, masturbation, incest, and sexual orientation as expressed in their scriptures, exegesis, and practice, this course explores the close connections between various conceptions of the sacred and their impact on this biological activity.

GLS 511 The Social Organization of Cruelty (3) This course examines the origins and organization of cruelty (slavery, torture, genocide, child abuse, the treatment of "inmates" in nursing homes and mental hospitals) with the aims of: 1) developing a general theory of cruelty, and 2) better understanding cruelty as an ongoing social achievement.

GLS 513 Transitions from Communism (3) An interdisciplinary approach to the problems of transition in four regions: Eastern Europe, Russia, Central Asia, and China. After an examination of the historical, geographical, and cultural foundations of current issues, the course focuses on the prospects for democracy and civil society.

GLS 514 Post-Modern Childhood (3) Interdisciplinary exploration of contemporary childhood. Popular media, scholarly sources, and a variety of qualitative methods will be used to analyze the social worlds of children and the social construction of childhood in postmodern and increasingly global consumer culture.

GLS 517 Affirmative Action and Social Justice (3) Introduction, through discussion, debate and dialogue, to the philosophy of racial justice. Topics include equality and the Constitution, slavery and segregation, the philosophy of civil rights, affirmative action and theories of social justice, and racial healing.

GLS 519 Poverty, Social Policy, and the American Welfare State (3) A seminar considering America's struggle against poverty and related social problems. Examination of social policy and programs, the changing character of poverty over the past century, the influence of reform movements, and the future of the U.S. social welfare system.

GLS 520 Atheism and Unbelief (3) Examines the beliefs and assumptions of atheists by exploring an atheist's response to common theistic arguments, by surveying the historical and philosophical traditions of atheism, and by considering how atheists explain all those things atheists need gods for, with special reference to the theories of Freud, Durkheim, Marx, Skinner, Harris, and Sperber.

GLS 521 Media and Society (3) Examines the relationship between media, culture, and society, with a special emphasis on interdisciplinary perspectives. Focuses on the roles the mass media play in the production, reception, and representation of the news, race, class, gender and sexuality in contemporary society.

GLS 522 Shamanism (3) Cross-cultural study of shamanism. Topics include importance of cultural context, altered states of consciousness, balance with nature, and use of plants. Exploration of the shaman as healer, medium, and conduit of spiritual knowledge. Shamanism as a personal journey.

GLS 523 Popular Culture (3) Cross-cultural study and semiotic analysis of popular forms of everyday life (food, fashion, fads, entertainment trends, television, movies, music, myths, stereotypes, and icons of mass-mediated consumer culture), with a special emphasis upon thinking and writing critically about popular culture by examining tacit assumptions about how the world works and our place in it as well as the role language plays in shaping reality.

GLS 524 The Contemporary American Workplace (3) Examines the contemporary American workplace from a number of disciplinary perspectives--economic, sociological, psychological, historical, philosophical, and literary--and considers such concerns as work and identity, ethics and the workplace, gender and ethnic discrimination, work as reality and myth, work and leisure, the workaholic syndrome, job satisfaction, management and labor relations, and education and the marketplace.

GLS 526 Persuasion in American Life (3) How American society is influenced by the advertising and public relations industries and the newspaper editorial page.

GLS 527 The Historical Geography of American Race Relations (3) This seminar explores the historical geography of American race relations from 1619 to the present through readings, discussions, and oral and written presentations of research.

GLS 528 Cultural Images of America in the 60s (3) An interdisciplinary examination of the United States in the 1960s, with a focus upon such major political, social, and cultural developments as the anti-Vietnam war movement, the free speech movement, the civil rights movement, the women's movement, the sexual revolution, the Black Arts movement and the environmental movement as well as the evolution of a distinctive counterculture.

GLS 529. Cultural Images of America in the 50s (3) An interdisciplinary examination of the United States in the 1950s from a variety of socio-cultural perspectives, with a focus upon such topics as fashion, automotive design, food and kitchen technology, roadside architecture, suburban development, consumerism, the nuclear family, the evolution of a distinctive youth culture, segregation, the "Red" scare, popular fads, and the popular media.

GLS 530 The Shaping of America: Cultural Landscapes and the American Sense of Place (3) Examination of the material cultural landscapes of America from geographical, historical, and aesthetic perspectives, and how attachment to place has shaped the landscape. A study of the rich spatial tapestry of our nation's fields, towns, cities, architectural styles, railways, and roadscapes, and how those patterns reflect five centuries of diverse ethnic and cultural evolution.

GLS 531 Science and Pseudoscience (3) Study of criteria for description and explanation in science and the use of those criteria to demarcate between scientific and pseudoscientific claims to knowledge. Evaluation of specific areas such as parapsychology, astrology and alternative medicine. Consideration of psychological factors influencing people's tendency to accept unsupported beliefs.

GLS 532 Conservation and Culture (3) A discussion of both contemporary and historical links between conservation and human cultures, with a focus on wildlife and other natural resources. Includes topics such as the Dust Bowl, attitudes toward predators, the founding of the Hudson Bay company, Smokey the Bear, Rachel Carson and Silent Spring , and the conservation ethics of Muir, Pinchot, and Leopold.

GLS 533 The Environmental Crisis (3) An intensifying environmental crisis has arisen from local, national and transborder encounters with water and air pollution, habitat destruction and species extinction, and possible global warming, all in the context of unprecedented population growth. This course is an America-centered, historically oriented examination of our environmental dilemmas and their possible solutions.

GLS 534 Culture Wars and the Origin of Difference (3) Intensive study of significant themes in the literature on the encounter of European peoples with the Third World. Interdisciplinary and anthropological readings focus on explanations for the origin of cultural differences, the dynamics of the colonial encounter, the contemporary clash of cultures, and multiculturalism.

GLS 535 The Historical Geography of Food (3) Examines the food ways of different cultural regions from prehistoric hunter/gatherers through Neolithic sedentary agriculture up to modern agri-business, including the diffusion of agricultural practices and products, famine's causes and effects, the decline of world fisheries, climatic and economic parameters of food production, and the role of foods in cultural practices and prohibitions.

GLS 536 America during the Great Depression (3) An examination of the United States during the Great Depression from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, ranging from literature, photography, popular music, and popular film to sociology, geography, climatology, agronomy, politics, economics, public health, and education. Featured texts include fiction, autobiography, oral history, public history, letters, newspaper and photojournalism, and relevant historical and sociological studies.

GLS 537 American Roadways (3) An examination of such classic American roadways as the Mississippi River, the Appalachian Trail, Route 66, the Burlington-Northern rail system, the "underground railroad," and the "Trail of Tears" from such disciplinary perspectives as cultural and transportation geography, folklore, history, literature, photography, popular music, the popular media, and sociology.

GLS 540 Jungian Psychology (3) The course will provide a study of basic ideas in Jungian depth psychology focusing on: the stages of life; the structure of the psyche; instinct and the unconscious; the concept of the collective unconscious; the relations between the ego and the unconscious; phenomenology of the self; marriage as a psychological relationship; psychological types; the transcendent function; analytical psychology and poetry; dream symbolism; spiritual problems; East/West differences; synchronicity; and Jung's answer to Job. This course does not satisfy the requirement for the MA in Psychology.

GLS 541 Psychology and Religion (3) A study of the relationship between Carl Jung's theory of the Collective Unconscious and Eastern views of higher consciousness. This course does not satisfy the requirement for the MA in Psychology.

GLS 542 Creative Nonfiction: Memoir and Truth Telling (3) An exploration of how authors compose their lives, construct an identity-and create a somewhat coherent self often against enormous personal, societal, and cultural obstacles, focusing on how memory and imagination, history and fiction, fact and invention intersect in the act of creating a self, and of engaging in a meaningful and/or complicated relationship with the past-a past that inevitably weaves itself into the present.

GLS 544 Topics in Literature: War (3) This class is a study of the (primarily American) literature inspired by war. The course readings will include various genres of literature-poetry, fiction, graphic novels and novels among others, and the subject matter ranges from Women in Indian Captivity Narratives and the story of Geronimo ("The Great Patriot Warrior") to the more extensively documented wars (e.g. the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI and WWII, the Vietnam War) America has experienced throughout its independent history.

GLS 545 Author Focus: Stephen King (3) Starting with his first published novel, Carrie, and working through novels, novellas and short stories from different time periods in his career, this course is a study of a variety of King's works, including some works which were first published under a pseudonym, Richard Bachman. In addition to using the more traditional approaches to analyze literature, we will also study King's own views on writing as discussed in his autobiographical title, On Writing, and work to polish our own writing skills during the course.

GLS 546 The Sociology of Athletic Heroes (3) This course is an in-depth study of the various qualities of the modern athletic hero. Its primary objective is to explore contemporary heroism as represented by athletes with regard to the criteria for both traditional and modern heroes. The course will include case studies of four pre-selected sports heroes and students' individual research on contemporary athletes as heroes/heroines.

GLS 547 Homelessness in America (3) This seminar examines all aspects of the local and national homeless population, including causes of, services for, and the temporary and chronic conditions of homelessness. Homelessness in the United States has increased dramatically in the last 30 years. Therefore, this seminar must also explore the political and economic aspects of homelessness and the proposed solutions, which include first and foremost, affordable housing and services, as many homeless people are mentally ill and/or substance abusers.

GLS 560 Art in Social Science Perspective (3) Art both organizes and is organized by social interaction. This course examines this dialectical relationship between art and society, focusing upon the complex networks of social relationships--among artists, critics, aestheticians, patrons, and institutions that powerfully influence the ways in which art is performed, exhibited, evaluated, and supported.

GLS 561 Theatre and Cinema (3) Aesthetic study of theatre and film and the relations between them. Examination of key texts in each medium, emphasizing rhetorical analyses of language, mise-en-scene, performance, cinematography, editing and other properties particular to dramatic art forms. Three seminar hours and two screening hours each week.

GLS 562 Our Cultural Heritage through Dance (3) This course provides an opportunity to experience and examine dance forms and cultures from around the world. These experiences will provide the focus and impetus for students to make connections to their lives, to show connections to the global studies curriculum, and for future independent study by individual class members.

GLS 564 Composing a Self: Autobiography from the Margins (3) In this course, we will read a range of contemporary autobiographies and memoirs and explore how writers compose their lives, construct an identity, and create a somewhat coherent self often against enormous, personal, societal, and cultural obstacles. We will read the autobiographical work of authors who have been socially marginalized, due to race, gender, ethnicity, mental illness, or socio-economics.

GLS 566 Documentary Film: Moving Images (3) The Documentary Tradition. One documentary film will be shown and discussed each week so that students will develop an awareness of how these films, both classics and current-day documentaries, were put together. Narration, interview, historical photos and footage as well as actual filming of action, people and scenes will be analyzed to see how a documentary story is told. The student will be able to see how various video and audio segments make up a documentary and will become a more critical viewer of documentaries.

GLS 568 Black Intellectual Tradition (3) An interdisciplinary study of the black intellectual tradition in the humanities, social sciences, and the fine arts that spans nearly two hundred years, two continents, and most of the academic disciplines with special emphases upon African intellectual heritage, African philosophical thought forms, Afro-American philosophy of religion, black education, the black social conscience, and Blacks in literature.

GLS 570 Black Mountain School of North Carolina (3) Intensive study of the highly innovative and interdisciplinary Black Mountain School (1933-1956), its root in European and American culture, and its remarkable legacy. Special emphasis on poetry, the visual arts, and performing arts and such leading figures as Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Robert Motherwell, William de Kooning, John Cage, and Merce Cunningham.

GLS 571 Main Street U.S.A. (3) An examination of small-town America from a variety of topical and disciplinary perspectives, including art and architecture, business and commerce, cultural and transportation geography, education, folkways, and folk customs, history, kitsch, literature, photography, popular media, psychology, religion, sociology, and sports and recreation.

GLS 591 Directed Independent Study (1-3) Students must secure permission of the graduate coordinator. May be taken once . May not be taken concurrently with GLS 598 or used for thesis/final project research. Note: Forms requesting this course must be submitted to the GLS office at least two days prior to the relevant semester/session drop/add deadline.

GLS 592 Special Topics in Liberal Studies (1-3) Exploration of a special topic in liberal studies not regularly covered in other courses. May be repeated under different titles for up to 24 hours of credit. To provide some idea of the range and type of special topics courses that have been offered, a listing of some past and current course titles is available by clicking on "Special Topics in Liberal Studies " above.

GLS 597 Internship in Applied Liberal Studies (1-3) Restricted to one only, for three credits maximum. Prerequisite: Nine hours of graduate course credit for M.A. in Liberal Studies and permission of GLS Program director. Supervised professional experience with specific goals and assignments to be set and evaluated by a GLS instructor. Note: Forms requesting this course must be submitted to the GLS office at least two days prior to the relevant semester/session drop/add deadline.

GLS 598: Final Project in Liberal Studies (3) Required for all MALS students. Focused study of topic or question selected by student and approved by faculty advisor and director of GLS. Synthesizes or represents the student's interdisciplinary theme or concentration. Written analysis and oral presentation of project is required.

GLS 599: Post-Masters Certificate Qualifying Exam (2) Required for all GLS post-Master's candidates. An extended written exam that provides post-Masters certificate candidates with the reflective opportunity to assess the quality and significance of their learning experience as graduate liberal studies students and to examine the value and relevance of graduate liberal studies in the contemporary world, particularly in regard to those agendas of interdisciplinarity, cultural diversity, internationalism, and active citizenship that inform the graduate liberal studies program at UNCW.

Last Update: September 12, 2017