Liberal Studies

The Liberal Studies (LS) major has a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary curriculum that encompasses many areas of knowledge in the arts and sciences. This richly diversified major gives students skills and knowledge that will serve them well for work and life in our increasingly complex and interconnected world.  It is specifically recommended for students who want to become elementary school teachers.

Liberal Studies Offers Two Degrees:

Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies

Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies Integrated Teacher Preparation

Liberal Studies Mission Statement

Students in the Liberal Studies program will emerge with knowledge and skills to negotiate complex spaces and situations in an increasingly globalizing world.

Our students:

  • learn to think critically, create and express thoughts in speech, writing, the arts and other media;
  • actively examine and engage complex contemporary issues such as education, sustainability, inequality, health and human rights, global and interpersonal conflicts, and social justice;
  • explore how different kinds of learning and ways of knowing expand the capacity to read and change the world;
  • gain experience with the processes of learning and producing new knowledge, including collaborative integration and customized, intensive individual interdisciplinary research projects.

The programs consist of innovative courses in the areas of literature; communication; performance; education; environmental studies; science and technology studies; social sciences, humanities, the creative arts and medical anthropology.  

Its well-rounded curriculum provides robust preparation for future teachers. Our graduates have also pursued advanced degrees in counseling, education, public health, gerontology, law, health fields, environmental studies, mathematics, English, psychology, film studies, library science, theology and more.  Many of our alumni work in public service, resource policy, technology and innovation, library studies, creativity and communication, social media, education, health and criminal justice fields.

The elementary subject matter emphasis provides the broad academic background necessary for teaching in an elementary classroom and, when completed along with a set of additional courses, allows future teachers to waive the CSET exam.

General Requirements for the Liberal Studies Major

All Liberal Studies majors must complete 27-8 units of core courses and 15 additional units of emphasis. Many of our students choose the Elementary Subject Matter emphasis, which includes courses that will help them as future multiple-subject teachers. While we have several recommended emphasis patterns, most LS majors complete a minor (in a discipline of their choice), which can double-count for the Liberal Studies emphasis requirement.

Each student should consult with an advisor to discuss the Liberal Studies major, selection of courses, and preparation of a planning worksheet (available in the LS office).

Core Courses (27/28 units)

The Liberal Studies core includes a lower-division introductory course, two interdisciplinary seminars (the GWAR and capstone), and six interdisciplinary courses drawn from different academic disciplines. For some of these disciplines, students choose from a menu of courses (from which Elementary Subject Matter students should choose certain courses). 

  • LS 300 (GWAR): An intensive-writing seminar focused on interdisciplinary topics
  • Literature - see the list of courses on the advising worksheets
  • Communication Studies - see the list of courses on the advising worksheets
  • Life or Physical Sciences - see the list of courses on the advising worksheets
  • Social Sciences (two courses) - see the list of courses on the advising worksheets
  • Interdisciplinary Humanities - see the list of courses on the advising worksheets
  • Visual Studies - see the list of courses on the advising worksheets
  • LS 690: Senior Seminar, taken in the final semester of the Liberal Studies major.

Emphasis Patterns (15 units)

  • Teacher Preparation.  You can find this document on the Liberal Studies Advising page.
  • Minor or emphasis pattern on advisement 

Liberal Studies Core Courses

Besides LS 300 and LS 690, which every LS major must take, the following six LS core categories allow students to choose from menus of options.

Those interested in getting a multiple-subject teaching credential should choose the starred courses in Literature, Communication Studies, Life/Physical Sciences, and Integrated Social Sciences. We also strongly encourage future teachers to contact an adviser to discuss possible pathways. 

Literature

Select one (future teachers should select EDUC 681):

  • AA S 322 Chinese American Language and Literature (UD-C, AERM, SJ)
  • AA S 332 Japanese American Art and Literature (UD-C, AERM, SJ, LLD)
  • AA S 352 Filipina/o American Literature, Art and Culture (UD-C, GP, SJ)
  • AA S 372 Vietnamese American Literature (UD-C, AERM)
  • AA S 512 Asian American Children’s/Adolescent Literature (UD-C, AERM, SJ)
  • AFRS 411 African and African American Literature
  • CWL 440 "Typical American”: Narratives of Multiculturalism in the Americas from 1492 to the Present (UD-C, GP)
  • EDUC 681 Teaching Language and Literature with Elementary and Middle School Children (UD-C)
  • ENG 398 Greek American Literature
  • ENG 451/JS 45`/CWL 451 Jewish Literature of the Americas (UD-C, AERM, GP)
  • ENG 465 Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction (UD-C, ES)
  • ENG 526 Age of the American Renaissance (UD-C, AERM, SJ)
  • ENG 533 Holocaust and Literature (UD-C, GP, SJ)
  • ENG 535 Literature and Ecology (UD-C, ES)
  • ENG 546 20th-Century Jewish Women Writers (UD-C, AERM, GP)
  • ENG 601 Literature and Psychology (UD-C)
  • ENG 602 Literature and Society (UD-C, AERM)
  • ENG 631 Post-Colonial Literature in English (UD-C, GP)
  • ENG 655 Literature and the Adolescent Reader
  • LTNS 560 Contemporary Latina/o Literature (UD-C, LLD, AERM, SJ)
  • RRS 450/ARAB 450 Contemporary Arabic and Arab American Literature (UD-C, AERM, GP)
  • WGS 541 Women Writers and Social Change (UD-C, AERM, SJ, GP)
  • WGS 551 Queer Literatures and Media (UD-C, LLD, AERM, GP, SJ)

Communication Studies

Select one (future teachers should select LS403):

  • LS 403/COMM 557 Performance and Pedagogy of the Oppressed for Educators
  • COMM 551 Persuasion
  • COMM 552 Performance and Feminism
  • COMM 553 Performance and Identity
  • COMM 554 Performance of Children's Literature
  • COMM 559: Theory and Practice in Advanced Public Speaking

Life and Physical Sciences

Select one (future teachers should select either LS 209, LS310, or LS430):

  • LS 209 Physical Sciences for Elementary School Teachers
  • LS 310: Science and Culture for Future Teachers
  • LS 317 Critical Animal Studies
  • LS 430 The Future of the Forests (UD-B, ES, GP)
  • LS 440: Mind, Body, and Culture
  • BIOL 300 Nature Study (UD-B, ES)
  • BIOL 310 Biology for Today's World (UD-B, ES)
  • BIOL 313 Principles of Ecology
  • BIOL 318 Our Endangered Planet (UD-B, ES)
  • BIOL 326 Disease! (UD-B, GP, SJ)
  • ERTH 325 Geology of the National Parks (UD-B, ES)
  • ERTH 335 Global Warming (UD-B, ES, GP)
  • ERTH 360 California Weather Events (UD-B, ES, GP)
  • ERTH 365 Extreme Weather in a Warming World (UD-B, ES, GP)

Integrated Social Sciences

Select two

  • LS 200 Self, Place, and Knowing
  • LS 401 International Development and Resource Justice (UD-D, ES)
  • LS 402 Introduction to Human Rights Education
  • LS 403 Performance and Pedagogy of the Oppressed
  • LS 404 Social Science and Medicine for Educators

Interdisciplinary Humanities

  • HUM 415 Contemporary Culture (UD-C, GP)
  • HUM 425 Thought and Image: Humanities

Visual Studies

  • LS 426 Thought and Image: Creative Arts
  • CMX 325 Comics and Culture

Liberal Studies Emphasis Patterns

Liberal Studies (LS) must take 15 credit units for their emphasis. The emphasis area is where LS students achieve a depth of knowledge in a discipline. There are two ways to complete your emphasis: take coursework in one of the approved emphases, such as teacher preparation, or minor in a field of your choice. 

LS majors are encouraged to consider choosing a minor, double major, or certificate to satisfy their emphasis requirement. Unlike an emphasis pattern, a minor will show up on your diploma and your transcript. It will make you a stronger candidate for future endeavors. To sign up for a minor, go see an advisor in your program of choice. Minors typically require 12 to 21 units. This small number of units means adding a minor may require no extra units. A 12 unit minor would need an extra three-unit course selected with an LS adviser. 

LS majors not minoring or double majoring in another program must pick an emphasis pattern. To select an emphasis pattern, talk to an LS adviser. Students planning to get a multiple subject credential are encouraged to choose the Elementary Subject Matter emphasis below.

Elementary Subject Matter (ESM) Emphasis

Take both of the following math courses:

  • MATH 165 Concepts of the Number System
  • MATH 565 Concepts of Geometry, Measurement, and Probability

For the ESM emphasis, in addition to MATH165 and MATH565, select one course from each of the three categories listed below to complete the Teacher Preparation emphasis. Courses taken for the core cannot double count for emphasis.

Category 1: Natural Sciences (select one)

LS 209: Physical Science for Elementary School Teachers (B3)
LS 310: Science & Culture for Future Elementary School Teachers
LS 430: Future of Forests (UD-B, ES, GP)
E ED 655: Hands-on Undergraduate Science Education Experience

Category 2: Social Sciences (select one)

LS 400: Social Science Core I
LS 401: International Development and Resource Justice (UD-D, ES, GP)
LS 402: Intro to Human Rights Education (UD-D, GP, SJ)
LS 404: Social Science and Medicine for Educators (UD-D, GP, SJ)
HIST 450: History of California (Cal. State & Local Govt, UD-D)

Category 3: Human and Physical Development and Physical Education (select one)

CAD 210: Introduction to Applied Child and Adolescent Development (D1)
KIN 401: Elementary School Physical Education: K-5
RPT 280: Developmental Play Processes (D1)

General Education

In addition to the above courses, we recommend the following GE coursework for future teachers (boldface courses also count toward teacher prep core).

Lower-Division GE

Area E:
LS200: Self, Place, and Knowing: Introduction to Interdisciplinary Inquiry

B4:
MATH265: Advanced Number Systems (NB: taken with 165 and 565 it may satisfy GE B4; a petition may be necessary)

C1:
ARTH201: Western Art History I
ARTH202: Western Art History II

B1:
ERTH110: The Violent Earth

B2:
BIOL100: Human Biology

B3:
LS209: Physical Sciences for Elementary School Teachers

D1:
HIST 114: World History to 1500
HIST 115: World History Since 1500

D2:
HIST120: History of the U.S. through Reconstruction

Upper-division GE

UD-B:
LS430 Future of Forests (UD-B, ES, GP)

BIOL 310 Biology for Today’s World (UD-B, ES)
ERTH 365 Extreme Weather in a Warming World (UD-B, ES, GP)

UD-C:
E ED 450 Art and Learning (UD-C, SJ)
E ED 681: Teaching Language and Literature with Elementary and Middle School Students (UD-C)

UD-D:
LS 401 International Development and Resource Justice (UD-D, ES, GP)
LS 402 Intro to Human Rights Education (UD-D, GP, SJ)
LS 404 Social Science and Medicine for Educators (UD-D, GP, SJ)

HIST 450 History of California (Cal. State & Local Govt, UD-D

Liberal Studies Undergraduate Courses (with LS Prefix)

LS 200 Self, Place, and Knowing: Introduction to Interdisciplinary Inquiry (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: GE Area A2* or permission of the instructor.

Introduction to Liberal Studies, American Studies, the practice of interdisciplinary inquiry, and the culmination of the first-year experience sequence. Project-based focus on different ways of understanding oneself in relationship to the University, San Francisco, and the larger Bay Area. Emphasis on experiential learning through mapping (exploring, navigating, understanding, and cataloging). [CSL may be available]

GE Attributes: E: Lifelong Learning Develop

LS 209 Physical Sciences for Elementary School Teachers (Units: 3)

Designed for prospective elementary and middle school (K-8) teachers. Understanding through inquiry the structure and property of matter and principles of motion and energy. Lecture, 2 units; laboratory, 1 unit.

GE Attributes: B3: Lab Science

LS 300GW Perspectives on Liberal Studies - GWAR (Units: 3)

Basic preparation for interdisciplinary study. Draws on language arts, mathematics, science, social sciences, humanities, and creative arts to prepare students for advanced work in Liberal Studies and careers requiring breadth and depth of knowledge. (ABC/NC grading only) [CSL may be available]

Prerequisites: GE Areas A2 and E. Priority enrollment for Liberal Studies majors.

Course Attributes: Graduation Writing Assessment (GWAR)

LS 304 Making Comics (Units: 3)

Introduction to the hands-on making of comics. Focus on in-class exercises and small projects in making comics alongside analysis of comics. Promotes understanding of how to communicate in comics and discover working methods that best work for them.

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing or permission of the instructor.

LS 310 Science & Culture for Future Elementary School Teachers (Units: 3)

Designed for prospective elementary/middle school (K-8) teachers. Inquiry-based interdisciplinary understanding of the physical sciences, e.g. principles of motion and energy, through their examination as a cultural enterprise.

Prerequisite: Completion of lower-division physical science GE or consent of the instructor. 

LS 317 Critical Animal Studies (Units: 3)

Examination of the nature of animal experiences and the various roles nonhuman animals play in human life, with a particular focus on approaches to nonhuman animals in science, art, and literature.

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

LS 400 Social Sciences Core I (Units: 3)

An interdisciplinary approach to the scientific study of human social behavior. Exploration of the similarities and differences between the social science disciplines of anthropology, psychology, and sociology with respect to their subject matter, concepts, models, and research approaches.

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing or permission of the instructor.

LS 401 International Development and Resource Justice (Units: 3)

An interdisciplinary study of international development, focusing on resources, community impacts, and environmental sustainability. Discussion of some of the key questions and concepts from history, economics, geography, and political science that are central to the study of socio-environmental issues, and an exploration of several case studies of international environmental problems. Analysis of complex issues such as oil and mineral extraction, deforestation, agricultural production, and climate change. Includes a research project focusing on the development of a resource and location of the student's choice.

Prerequisites: GE Areas A1*, A2*, A3*, and B4* all with grades of C- or better or permission of the instructor.

Course Attributes:

  • GE UD-D: Social Sciences
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Global Perspectives

LS 402 Introduction to Human Rights Education for Teachers and Local Communities (Units: 3)

Introduction to Human Rights Education for teachers and local communities. Engage in the evolving field of Human Rights and enhance knowledge, skills, and commitment to a life of freedom and dignity. Examination of United Nations declarations, treaties, and conventions, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Learn to produce hands-on pedagogical materials on human rights that can be incorporated into school curricula and how to spread awareness of peace and freedom into local communities based on students' real-life experiences. [CSL may be available]

Prerequisites: GE Areas A1*, A2*, A3*, and B4* all with grades of C- or better or permission of the instructor.

Course Attributes:

  • GE UD-D: Social Sciences
  • Global Perspectives
  • Social Justice

LS 403 Performance and Pedagogy of the Oppressed for Educators (Units: 3)

Examine the theories of Augusto Boal and Paulo Freire and their application for educators and community activists. [CSL may be available]
 

Prerequisite: GE Area A1*.

Course Attributes: Social Justice

LS 404 Social Science and Medicine (Units: 3)

An interdisciplinary approach to social and emotional well-being around the world with discussions about how culture, ethnicity, class, gender, and access to resources affect public health. Focus on today's main global issues: poverty, climate change, violence, immigration, mental health, opioid addiction/dependence, and education. Requires addressing local, regional, and national health disparities, as well as health universals in order to make comparisons between the United States and other countries.

Prerequisites: GE Areas A1*, A2*, A3*, and B4* all with grades of C- or better or permission of the instructor.

Course Attributes:

  • GE UD-D: Social Sciences
  • Global Perspectives
  • Social Justice

LS 426 Thought and Image: Creative Arts (Units: 3)

Works in the creative arts and humanities studied in terms of the unique ways the meanings, values, and forms reflect their cultures of origin. Works from at least two global cultures will be included.

Prerequisite: ENG 114 or equivalent. 

LS 427 Social Movements & the Arts for Future Teachers (Units: 3)

Exploration of cultural and social movements in the US and in international contexts through body techniques, sound, and visual expression.

Prerequisite: GE Area A2.

LS 430 Future of the Forests (Units: 3)

Ecological and social dimensions of Western-Hemisphere forests; forest ecology and science; socio-political relations of industries to forest decline and with minority forest dwellers and laborers; sustainability and the future role of forests.

Prerequisites:GE Areas A1*, A2*, A3*, and B4* all with grades of C- or better; one college-level biology course*; or permission of the instructor.

Course Attributes:

  • GE UD-B: Physical Life Science
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Global Perspectives

LS 440 Mind, Body, and Culture (Units: 3)

Interdisciplinary exploration of how our bodies, emotions, and internal biases affect our thinking and influence how we respond to the world. Investigation of how our worlds and cultures affect our bodies and minds. 

Prerequisites: GE Areas A1*, A2*, A3*, and B4* all with grades of C- or better or permission of the instructor.

GE Attribute: UD-B: Physical Life Science

LS 460 Childhood, Nature, and Society (Units: 3)

Exploration of the relationship between childhood and nature in pre- through post-industrial societies using theory, research, and methods from the social sciences. [CSL may be available]

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

LS 604 Advanced Comics Making (Units: 3)

Builds on the making and analytical skills covered in LS 304/CMX 304. Project-based course for developing skills in communicating through comic form, culminating in the production of a significant work ready for publication.

Prerequisite: LS 304/CMX 304.

LS 681 Community Service Learning in the Schools (Units: 3)

Projects in history and social studies learning at the K-12 level. Meets the state early field experience requirement for multiple and single subject credential program admissions. May be repeated for a total of 6 units. [CSL may be available]

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing. 

LS 690 Liberal Studies Senior Seminar (Units: 3)

Interdisciplinary theory, research and practice. Examination of key questions and complex problems from multiple perspectives through the preparation of a substantial piece of work.

Prerequisites: Restricted to senior standing and LS 300GW.

LS 699 Independent Study (Units: 1-3)

Independent inquiry into a specific interdisciplinary issue or problem formulated by the student and approved and supervised by a member of the Liberal Studies faculty. May be repeated for a total of 6 units.

Prerequisites: Upper-division standing; Liberal Studies majors; and permission of the instructor.

Feedback on the Liberal Studies Program

Students that have completed the program have much praise to offer.

“Liberal Studies provided me with a broad educational background that developed my thinking and range of knowledge. I continue to be inquisitive and open to learning about something I don't know much about.”

“I am very pleased with the classes I took at SF State. [They] helped me to reorganize my notion of how and who I am in the world.”

“I love how well-rounded the Liberal Studies Major is. I enjoyed learning about several different subjects. Of course I know it has helped me as a substitute teacher. I highly recommend the major to anyone!”

“LS was very helpful, because I was able to use some of the things I studied.”

“My experience in the classroom at San Francisco State University has been excellent. I have participated in many great classes that have served to make me into a better and more qualified teacher. In several classes, I have learned the material that I need to convey to my students. In several classes, I have learned, through modeling, the qualities of a great teacher and in others I have gained the confidence and belief that I am qualified to teach the future.”

“I wouldn't have my job without my degree. My education from SF State is one of my most important and treasured life experiences!”

“Liberal Studies provided me with a broad educational background that developed my thinking and range of knowledge. I continue to be inquisitive and open to learning about something I don’t know much about.”

“The broad educational background/foundation I received from my Liberal Studies degree has enabled me to interact more easily with a variety of people, especially business people, that I meet and work with every day in my place of work.”

“I can’t help but think that some of my personal achievements are directly attributable to my experience at State.”