Master of Liberal Studies

The Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) program is based on the premise that studying the great ideas of Western civilization increases intellectual awareness and self-fulfillment.


The Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) program is based on the premise that studying the great ideas of Western civilization increases intellectual awareness and self-fulfillment. As a student, you will explore how these ideas apply to the problems that humans have confronted over the ages, and consider the moral dimensions of contemporary issues as well. You will read great books to revisit ideas and insights that emerged centuries ago and to examine their relevance to the modern world. The program fosters analytical and critical thinking skills that will enable you to understand and address issues that continue to challenge us.

Matriculated students in each entering class pursue the core courses together, in sequence, so that they achieve a common ground of knowledge and a strong sense of community. Students begin the program of study in the fall term each year; however, once students have been accepted into the program, they take an elective or masterworks course as a degree-seeking student during any term prior to the fall.


MLS 602: The Human Order [4]

The social and political philosophies of the ancient world reflect the effort to shape the human community according to a universal order in which human beings have a natural place and a natural purpose. In this course, students explore the social and political thought of ancient Greece and Rome in the context of the culture in which that thought arose. The course also examines the cosmology and science of the ancient world, with an emphasis on the attempt to direct the powers of reason to the discovery of a natural order.

MLS 603: Religion and Western Culture [4]

The society that emerged from the ruins of the Roman Empire brought together classical, Germanic, and Christian elements to forge a new western European culture. This course traces the interaction of these strands through an examination of religion, social and political development, and changes in the arts. Students will examine the medieval synthesis in which religious concerns predominated, explore the factors that lead to its breakdown, and enhance their research skills at the graduate level.

MLS 604: The Origins of Modernity [4]

If ancient social and political thought can be characterized by the attempt to fashion a human order that reflected the order of the universe, modern thought must be characterized by the effort to establish order in the human community without the help of a divine being and without knowledge of a transcendent natural order. This course investigates the various ways in which modern social, aesthetic, and political thinkers endeavor to rest human society on purely secular foundations.

MLS 605: Milestones of Modern Science [4]

Science has always been concerned with the search for order, whether it be to explain the starry phenomena in the night sky; the diversity of substances like rocks, water, and wind; or the nature of our own origins. This course pursues the pathways of science since the 17th century, concentrating on some of the exceptional ideas in biology and physics, with excursions into chemistry and mathematics. We study how the accumulation of knowledge acquired by technical tools and extraordinary thinking fabricates a new view of the universe and indicates our place in it.

MLS 606: Masterpieces of Modern Literature [4]

This course explores the ways in which literature has come to question and define values in the modern world. As writers have endeavored to come to grips with the social, political, and spiritual dislocations of modern life, they have pursued themes of meaning, identity, community, and communication in order to examine the complexities and perplexities of the human condition.

MLS 690: Thesis Project [4]

The culmination of the degree program is the completion of a thesis project. Working under the direction of a faculty mentor and with the support of a liberal studies seminar, students apply the knowledge they have acquired in the program in designing and executing a final project. 100 The project may be a research study or a creative work supported by a critical or theoretical essay. For guidelines and approval procedure, please see page 93.


Pedro J. Bernal
Associate Professor of Chemistry. B.S., Ph.D., University of Tennessee. Specializations: physical and general chemistry, and the philosophy of science.

Edward H. Cohen
William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of English. B.A., University of Maryland; M.A., University of Iowa; Ph.D., University of New Mexico. Specializations: Victorian studies.

J. Thomas Cook
Professor of Philosophy. B.A., Johns Hopkins University; M.A., Ph.D., Vanderbilt University. Specializations: history of philosophy, philosophy of mind, and metaphysical issues such as the nature of self and human freedom.

Hoyt L. Edge
Hugh F. and Jeannette G. McKean Professor of Philosophy. B.A., Stetson University; M.A., Ph.D., Vanderbilt University. Specializations: philosophy of psychology, American philosophy, parapsychology, and cognitive anthropology.

Patricia A. Lancaster
Professor Emerita of French and Dean Emerita of the Hamilton Holt School. B.A., Coker College; M.A., Ph.D., Emory University. Specializations: humanities and French language, literature, and culture.

Julia Maskivker
Assistant Professor of Political Science (2009;2009); B.A., Universidad Torcuato Di Tella (Buenos Aires); M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D., Columbia University. Specializations: analytic ethical and political theory and philosophy, theories of justice, theories of social citizenship, welfare state philosophy, and modern political thought.

Scott M. Rubarth
George D. and Harriet W. Cornell Scholar in Classical Studies and Associate Professor of Classical Philosophy. B.A., Los Angeles Baptist College; B.A., M.A., San Diego State University; Ph.D., University of Toronto. Specializations: ancient Greek philosophy, stoicism, perception, and gender in antiquity.

Gail D. Sinclair
Executive Director and Scholar in Residence of the Winter Park Institute at Rollins. B.A. and M.A., University of Missouri, Kansas City; Ph.D., University of South Florida. Specializations: 19th and 20th century American literature, feminism, comparative women’s literature, film

Joseph V. Siry
Associate Professor of Environmental Studies. B.A., Emory University; M.A., Ph.D., University of California at Santa Barbara. Specializations: conservation history, the history of science and technology, energy conservation and resource use, international environmental politics, global ecology, wilderness field studies, and service learning.

Robert Smither
Professor of Psychology. B.A., Indiana University; M.A., California State University at San Francisco; Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University. Specializations: industrial and organizational psychology, leadership, existential and humanistic psychology, and personality theory.


Graduates have gone on to pursue advanced degrees at:

Barry University – Law

California Institute of Integral Studies – Integral studies

Florida Atlantic University – Contemporary studies

Florida State University – Interdisciplinary humanities

Georgetown University – Humanities

Kent State University – Communication studies

Union Institute – Humanities

University of Central Florida – Sociology

University of Florida – Anthropology, English, environmental horticulture, history

University of Wales, Lampeter – History, theology 

Warnborough University – Humanities


Many graduates have found employment at various community colleges’ teaching Humanities and/or Philosophy.