The Liberal Studies Major (LSM) is one of the things that sets a Bentley education apart, mainly because it’s so different.
The LSM is an optional second major, but it’s different than most secondary degrees because it doesn’t stand alone. And it’s not like a typical liberal arts major that drills deep into one particular field of study, like philosophy or history. Instead, the Bentley LSM is paired with a primary BS major, serving as an interdisciplinary partner that dramatically helps increase the value of a student’s education.
With an LSM, a student can study business while exploring important themes that cut across the wider scope of arts and sciences: ethics and social responsibility, global perspectives, media arts and society, and issues related to the environment. In short, the Liberal Studies Major offers Bentley students breadth with coherence.
“Take an undergraduate who’s majoring in finance but interested in the environment. They can add a broad-based LSM that’s thematically related — say, Earth, Environment, and Global Sustainability,” says Bentley President Gloria Larson. “That student is thus equipped to model real-world sustainability projects in terms of their financial feasibility. In a construction project, that could lead to innovative thinking on how energy conservation, green energy, and cogeneration can work for an office building. It would bring up questions about public policy, supply and pricing, permitting, state politics, and the 10-year direction of public entities in a particular location.
“This is how smart decisions are made in private industry and in nonprofit organizations,” Larson continues. “Hybrid learning encourages 20-year-old undergraduates to wrestle with such tradeoffs and innovations in a supportive learning environment.”
Where business and the arts and sciences meet
Each LSM is tied to a particular area of concentration:
- American Studies
- Diversity and Society
- Earth, Environment, and Global Sustainability
- Ethics and Social Responsibility
- Global Perspectives
- Health and Industry
- Media Arts and Society
- Quantitative Perspectives
The degree requires no additional coursework, but blends courses in the general education curriculum with arts and science electives and some business electives. Students are encouraged to make their LSM their own and, as a result, for every Bentley student who earns a Liberal Studies Major, there’s a story.
“I took classes such as Health-Care Ethics, Human Genetics, Nutrition, Health and Disease, Health Psychology, and Health Economics to fulfill requirements in philosophy, science, and psychology,” says Steph Hall ’17, who majored in Corporate Finance and Accounting with an LSM in Health and Industry and now works at health-care IT firm athenahealth. “I also had the chance to attend speaker sessions and networking events with health industry professionals to learn more outside of the classroom.”
Gaining a competitive edge
The LSM concludes with a capstone project done in collaboration with a faculty mentor, designed to show a unifying understanding of their particular focus of study. In 2017, LSM capstones explored such topics as the impact of air pollution on asthma-related ER visits, the value of diversity, sustainable investing, and the murky world of repurposed pharmaceuticals.
Like many students, Megan Lieu ’17 looked at her LSM in Global Perspectives through a personal lens.
“I examined the elderly poverty situation of South Korea in comparison with the elderly community in the United States and how it affects my life,” says Lieu. “After studying abroad in Seoul, South Korea, the drastic difference between how elderly people are viewed and living encouraged a deeper insight into the community there. My research led to the question of what life is like back at home and what steps to take to move forward.”
In the end, the Liberal Studies Major is another opportunity for Bentley students to stand out in a crowd — to sharpen their competitive edge by demonstrating their ability to think analytically, critically, and creativity.
“I felt as though I was totally prepared to enter any finance or accounting role,” says Hall, “but with the addition of my Liberal Studies Major, I was that much more prepared to enter a career in the field of health care.”