Concentration in Political Leadership and Public Service

Our communities – local, state, regional, national, and global – face a multiplicity of vexing challenges but also offer numerous opportunities for “the common citizen” to have a positive impact on economic, political, cultural, social, and religious matters. You may be one of many individuals who help out in a community organization, or non-profit organization, or church. Or you may want to take your duties as a citizen seriously and get involved in some way. Undoubtedly, you work in either the public, non-profit, or private sector. Whatever the case, it is our hope that this MLS concentration will help you develop a knowledge base and skills that will empower you to more ably contribute to the communities and organizations that are important to you – and to us, too.

In order to achieve these goals, this MLS concentration centers on three basic aspects of our current condition: first, political institutions and processes; second, leadership and change-making; and third, ethics. Each of these three basic aspects and the learning goals associated with them are briefly described below. After that, the courses in curriculum of the concentration are listed (course descriptions are included).

Political Institutions and Processes: Political leadership and civic engagement requires a solid working knowledge of government and non-governmental organizations and processes. Students will understand political dynamics and develop capacities to influence the public policymaking processes.

Leadership and Change-Making: Effective political leadership and civic engagement in democratic societies is intended to produce change for the common good. This process requires students to initiate and sustain grassroots change and to develop variety of analytic, communication, and network abilities.

Ethics and Political Leadership and Civic Engagement: Perhaps the greatest challenge facing today’s leaders is establishing high ethical standards. Students will develop the moral and social responsibilities necessary for political and civic leaders as they mobilize the citizenry to confront the challenges of our society.

Additional Admission requirements

A grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher on the last 60 undergraduate hours will be required for admission. 

31-hour curriculum for the concentration (course descriptions listed below)

Core Courses: 10 credits (required)

IDS 801: Introduction to Graduate Liberal Studies (1 credit hour)
IDS 802: Ways of Knowing in Comparative Perspective (3 credit hours)
IDS 803: Origins and Implications of the Knowledge Society (3 credit hours)
IDS 804: Information Literacy (3 credit hours)

All four core courses have as their basic concern “the human being as knower.” IDS 801 introduces students to the MLS program requirements, introduces students to each of the four core MLS courses, aims to develop the practice of critical thinking, provides a consideration of the nature of studying liberally (how and why humans study), and provides a consideration of possible intrinsic and extrinsic benefits of liberal studies. The major foci of IDS 802 are: how to know, whether knowledge is relative, and what knowledge is for. IDS 802 builds analytical skills, critical thinking skills, and moral reasoning skills by introducing students to a variety of epistemologies (in the ‘hard’ sciences, social sciences, and the arts and humanities), by offering an explanation and critique of the scientific method, and by introducing students to questions regarding knowledge and its purposes. IDS 803 helps the student understand the context in which ‘humans as knowers’ live. IDS 804 helps ‘students as knowers’ acquire techniques and skills for getting and using knowledge.

Concentration: 18 credit hours

Required courses: 12 credit hours

LDRS 818: Ethical Leadership (VC only)
LDRS 640: Principles of Civic Leadership
LDRS 812: Advanced Leadership Theories (VC only)
COMM 810: Organizational Communication and Leadership

Choose one of the following:

POLS 621: American Civil Liberties
POLS 650: History of Political Theory (not virtual college)
POLS 651: Recent Political Theories (not virtual college)
POLS 653: American Political Thought (not virtual college)

Choose one of the following:

POLS 664: Political Behavior (prerequisite: MATH 250 or permission)
POLS 665: Interest Groups and Lobbying (not virtual college)

Culminating Experience: 3 credit hours - consult with faculty advisor and select one of the following

IDS 820: Projects in Liberal Studies (3 credit hours)
IDS 890: Internship in Liberal Studies (3 credit hours)

PLEASE NOTE: Contact Dr. Chapman Rackaway to see if the Master of Liberal Studies concentration in public administration could be right for you. Once you have been admitted to this concentration, please follow the MLS Checklist and carefully read The MLS Student Handbook.

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