The programs offered under the heading of Liberal Studies provide an alternative to the recent trend toward intellectual specialization. Liberal Studies programs emphasize the traditional value of breadth in a liberal arts education. The Liberal Studies Major allows students to sustain their exposure to a variety of intellectual disciplines and explore a broad range of fields. Students select a particular field in which to pursue greater depth of study, but that depth is explored against a richer background of broad exposure to the arts, humanities, and sciences. As a result, students are better prepared to understand interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary connections and appreciate the cross-fertilization of concepts, methods, and values among fields of academic endeavor. The goal of Liberal Studies programs is to produce graduates who are intellectually well-rounded, competent in a broad range of skills, and experienced in a variety of educational settings.
For these reasons, Liberal Studies programs offer excellent curricular pathways to students interested in a career in elementary school teaching, self contained classrooms most commonly found in grades K-8. Effective teaching in the K-8 setting reaches across the arts and sciences, incorporating multiple ways of knowing and methods of study. Elementary teachers must be conversant in a variety of fields, in order to present the range of basic knowledge included in the K-8 curriculum. Liberal Studies programs, which are based on state-wide standards for teacher training in the core areas of elementary-school subject matter, are explicitly geared to prepare students to demonstrate their competency in the subject matter areas of K-8 teaching. Coursework is selected to address the seven core subject matter areas comprised by the K-8 curriculum: Reading, Language & Literature; History & Social Science; Mathematics; Science; Visual and Performing Arts; Human Development; and Physical Education. In addition, students in the Liberal Studies Major choose a Depth of Study module that explores one of these areas in greater depth.
By this design, Liberal Studies programs prepare students for passage of the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET). The CSET is a test of the future teacher's mastery of the subject matter delivered in K-8 curricula; passage of the CSET is a prerequisite for entry into most post-baccalaureate credential programs (including CSUSM's) and is currently required for recommendation of a California credential. Liberal Studies programs aim to prepare graduates for smooth entry into the next stages of teacher training, and to ensure that, as future teachers, they attain rich command of the subjects that they will teach to students. Liberal Studies offers various programs suited to different student interests and goals. The Liberal Studies Major is a complete undergraduate program leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree. The Major takes two different forms, or options: Both options are suitable for "native" CSUSM students and transfer students; coursework at California community colleges can be applied to Liberal Studies requirements.
1) The Elementary Subject Matter Preparation option (ESMP) provides focused preparation for entry into postbaccalaureate, multiple subject teaching credential programs.
2) The Integrated Credential Program (ICP) option combines undergraduate coursework with the curriculum of a fifth-year multiple subject teacher credential pro-gram/ Authorization to Teach English Learners.
Both options share the same coursework to meet certain first- and second-year (lower-division) General Education requirements, as well as a number of upper-division breadth-of-study requirements. Both options also require students to select a Depth of Study module of coursework linked to one of the seven subject matter areas.
A different pathway to careers in elementary teaching is provided by the Elementary Subject Matter Preparation Certificate (ESMPC). This is a "standalone" certificate program that can be combined with any major in the College of Arts and Sciences. See page 131 for more information. The ESMPC, when combined with any Major in the College of Arts and Sciences, likewise provides preparation for graduate-level, multiple subject credential programs. Like the Liberal Studies Major, the ESMPC prescribes a particular pathway through the General Education requirements of the baccalaureate degree; completion of the certificate curriculum ensures the student's preparedness in the subject areas of the K-8 curriculum. The ESMPC is a package of coursework that the student combines with the required curriculum of an undergraduate Major, leading to a Bachelor's degree. (Students interested in the Certificate should consult the Liberal Studies Program for advising help; some Majors are less suitable for combination with the Certificate, leading to additional units of study beyond the 120 typically required for the Bachelor of Arts degree.)