Master of Arts in Liberal Studies


Current student Mark Pettibone wins Writing Contest

Mark Pettibone, Reed MALS '18, was named the winner of the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Program's 2017 Confluence Award for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Writing. The essay, "Ineluctable Modality of the Empathetic: Extra-Linguistic Empathy in Joyce's Ulysses," was modified from a paper he wrote for the summer '16 class on Joyce, and will be published in the fall edition of Confluence.

The MALS Alumni Book Club: A Russian Inquiry

The MALS Alumni Book Club welcomed ten readers in October to discuss Nobel prize-winner Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster with Professor of Russian Zhenya Bershtein. Voices from Chernobyl presents a profoundly moving account of the people affected by the 1986 Chernobyl reactor meltdown: those who were lost and those left behind. Alexievich won the Nobel Prize for inventing a new literary genre: “novels of voices” which describe historical crises through interviewing ordinary individuals. As a series of mediated oral testimonies, the book prompted our readers to examine the intentions and limits of documentation vs. artistic creation to truthfully tell a story. Zhenya, who lived in the Soviet Union at the time of the disaster, added his own personal perspective to the discussion, describing life under Soviet rule, how he and his community learned about Chernobyl first via their private shortwave radios tuned to Western news stations, and the unexpected unraveling of Soviet society only a few years later. He will be teaching a MALS course on Russian Culture under Putin: Submission and Resistance in spring 2019.

Both MALS alumni and prospective students are welcome to attend the MALS book club, held once per semester, to enjoy an evening of literary discussion and renewed acquaintances.


Reed MALS Turned 50!

MALS birthday cake

The graduate liberal studies concept dates from 1952 when Wesleyan University, CT established the first Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program. Reed designed its MALS program initially to complement and enhance teacher education preparation. With the support of the National Science Foundation, the Danforth Foundation and the Ford Foundation, Reed College formally established its Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program on December 6, 1966. The program was offered to high school teachers who wanted to increase mastery of subject matter in their teaching fields and to develop a broader background in the liberal arts.

In 1980 a college committee recommended that the program be revitalized with the inclusion of a more diverse population:

There appears to be a need for a post-baccaluareate program in the Portland area, one which does not have a specific vocational or professional orientation, which is flexible and which provides students with an opportunity to develop new goals, prepare for new courses in the most general way, and to enlarge their intellectual horizons in the same way that the liberal arts education serves to educate undergraduates.

The program held a celebratory gathering for alumni, faculty, staff, and current students on Friday June 10, 2016 during Reed Reunions Week.

Upcoming Terms

* Spring classes started Monday, January 22 and run through Friday, April 27. Spring break is March 10-18, 2018. The condensed summer term will start in June and run for 7 weeks.

Prospective students should contact the MALS office to arrange a class visit, or 503-777-7259.