The liberal arts seminar, or LAR, is a course that all Doane students are required to take. Many students have mixed feelings when it comes to LAR, but faculty see the benefit in the course.
Students think LAR is helpful when they take in their first year or as freshmen, but don’t always see the benefit of the course past the first year. Senior Anthony Malone is one of many students that feel LAR shouldn’t be mandatory after the first year.
“I feel like LAR is a really good tool for first-year students, but after the first year, it shouldn’t be extended to upperclassmen. I find it unnecessary, after my freshman year I felt the course didn't apply to my major”, said Malone.
J.L. Vertin who teaches a LAR 101 class has a different opinion on LAR 202 and 303 classes that sophomores, juniors, and seniors take. The purpose of LAR is taking what you know from your major and applying it to a major issue.
“ In the LAR 303 impact seminar, you have this messy problem and have 15 to 20 students across different majors that are juniors or seniors that can now take a group approach to solve a problem,” said Vertin.
Having a variety of students who are in different majors allows them to look at an issue from a math majors perspective, or a sociology majors perspective. It gives students multiple perspectives and can open their minds to new ideas.
By junior and senior year most students are deep into their majors and are taking classes that specifically apply to their majors. Since students are deep into their coursework, Malone thinks that juniors and seniors shouldn’t have to take LAR.
For students who believe LAR is pointless after their junior and senior years, Vertin provides a different way to look at the course.
“It’s better than taking unrelated courses and gives students the ability to something specific with the knowledge they’ve gained,” said Vertin. “Every college or university has a sequence of gen ed courses that you need to take, so I would argue that LAR is a much more interactive and engaging way to work on upper-level courses”.
Regardless of how students feel about LAR after their first year, many agree that they saw the benefits of the class in their freshman year.
“Freshman year LAR gave me a foothold of what to expect in certain classes, it helped me understand the expectations of my professors,” said Malone.
Professor Amanda Irions teaches LAR 101 and thinks that the class is beneficial for first-year students. It helps them get adjusted to Doane university and the academic community.
“ LAR 101 does a good job of helping students learn about the university system that they’ll be inhabiting for the next four years, and it helps them get information that they might not elsewhere,” said Irions.
Irions assigned her LAR 101 class to go to the Dredla Lecture and had them connect Professor Perry’s ideas to the information they got from their emotional intelligence scores.
“ I wanted them to begin to see that the university community's intellectual life experiences relate not just their academic selves, but also their emotional and social selves. Requiring students to participate more in university life helps improve their connection to the university,” said Irions.
Professor J.L. Vertin has a similar view, he doesn’t see the course as a transition to college, but more as a hands-on opportunity to learn how to read, write, and speak at the college level. He also speaks about the comradery that students gain from LAR and orientation.
“ Having the comradery of a group of students that come in during orientation week and now you’ve got one class out of the four or five classes you’re taking that semester that you know everyone is in the same boat, and I think that helps both socially and academically,” said Vertin.
Freshmen Jerome Wallace agrees and thinks that orientation and meeting with his LAR class helped him and other freshmen make friends.
J.L. Vertin says LAR is central to Doane’s mission, Doane helps students get jobs but also wants to help students make an impact on society.
“The purpose of a Doane education is to go out and make an impact on society in whatever field that you are in”.