College of Liberal Arts

Catalog Home

Faculty Office Bldg. (47), Room 31
Phone: 805.756.2359

Dean: Douglas L. Epperson

Associate Dean: Penny K. Bennett

Associate Dean: Debra L. Valencia-Laver
Administrative Fellow: Kathleen Murphy

Academic Programs 

Program name Program type
Agricultural CommunicationMinor
Anthropology and GeographyBS, Minor
Art and DesignBFA
Art HistoryMinor
Asian StudiesMinor
Child DevelopmentBS, Minor
Communication StudiesBA, Minor
Comparative Ethnic StudiesBA
Computing for Interactive ArtsMinor
EnglishBA, MA, Minor
Ethnic StudiesMinor
Ethics, Public Policy, Science and TechnologyMinor
Gender, Race, Culture, Science and TechnologyMinor
Global PoliticsMinor
Graphic CommunicationBS, Minor
HistoryBA, MA, Minor
Indigenous Studies in Natural Resources and the EnvironmentMinor
Integrated Marketing CommunicationsMinor
Latin American StudiesMinor
Law and SocietyMinor
Liberal Arts & Engineering StudiesBA
Media Arts, Society and TechnologyMinor
Modern Languages and LiteraturesBA
MusicBA, Minor
PhilosophyBA, Minor
Political ScienceBA, Minor
Printed Electronics and Functional ImagingMS
PsychologyBS, MS, Minor
Public PolicyMPP
Religious StudiesMinor
Science and Risk CommunicationMinor
SociologyBA, Minor
Studio ArtMinor
Theatre ArtsBA, Minor
Western Intellectual TraditionMinor
Women's and Gender StudiesMinor

The College of Liberal Arts (CLA) provides the opportunity to study in depth the record of imaginative and reflective human experience. Through papers, projects, research, and service, students are encouraged to develop the knowledge and skills to add to this record. As well, the college seeks to relate itself to the technological disciplines in a way that helps contribute to the solution of human problems from global and multidisciplinary perspectives. Accordingly, a wide range of courses is offered to serve every student without regard to specialized professional interests.

Four broad areas of knowledge are represented: the fine and performing arts, communications, humanities, and social sciences. While the college has great breadth and diversity, unity is found in a study of the most engaging subject of all – human endeavor. Whatever the focus, the programs in the CLA share a settled purpose: to help students know themselves, understand human values and human potential, and understand our society and its institutions.

The CLA offers a wide variety of classes that fulfill Cal Poly's general education and USCP requirements. Foundational courses provide students with a strong grounding in critical thinking and written and oral communication. The disciplines of the liberal arts are explored at both introductory and advanced levels; students are encouraged to further pursue areas of interest through the college's many minors.

The college also offers interdisciplinary and international courses through its Humanities Program, as well as in its four interdisciplinary minors that explore the intersection of science, technology and society. For more information, contact the Humanities Program Office (Bldg 47, 25H; 805.756.1525).

The college’s interdisciplinary major, Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies, allows students to combine coursework from the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Engineering to explore cutting-edge technologies and their applications to areas such as media arts, technology policy, and technical writing and communications. The degree is offered jointly by both colleges. For more information, see Interdisciplinary Degree Programs.

Study abroad opportunities are strongly supported, and CLA faculty regularly offer classes in programs such as Cal Poly's Summer Study in London, Thailand Study Program, Valladolid (Spain) Program, and Australia Abroad Program. The college is also involved with the Peru Summer Study Program, which provides internships that complement the minor in Latin American Studies. These study abroad programs are administered by the Cal Poly International Center. For further information, see Cal Poly International Center.

The College of Liberal Arts offers a wide range of learn-by-doing opportunities. Students from all majors participate in the musical ensembles, theater productions, and dance performances. The college supports the Central Coast Center for Arts Education and the University Art Gallery. Students, especially those in the social and behavioral sciences, participate in a variety of internships at the local, state, and national government level and with community, social services, and educational organizations. Students contribute to publications that showcase their accomplishments in their major, such as the  Byzantium (English), Osiyo (Ethnic Studies), The Forum (History), and Sprinkle (Women's and Gender Studies). These publications are often printed by the student-run University Graphic Systems. Students also participate in student-produced media including KCPR Radio, Mustang News, and CPTV.

The college has a major responsibility for activities that enhance the cultural and intellectual life of the University and the community. Departments regularly host speakers and present films and other programming. The college sponsors the Spanos Theatre and Cal Poly Arts, offering a full range of cultural programs, including exhibits, concerts, literary presentations, and dramatic and other productions, while fostering artistic development and accomplishment across the campus.

College of Liberal Arts graduates will be able to:

  1. Question assumptions through critical inquiry.
  2. Be innovative; think creatively and constructively.
  3. Communicate effectively orally and in writing.
  4. Develop scholarly depth within their disciplines.
  5. Understand the value of cross-disciplinary knowledge.
  6. Collaborate productively in diverse settings and with diverse others.
  7. Make reasoned, ethical, and socially and ecologically responsible decisions.
  8. Understand the self as product of - and participant in - global traditions of art, ideas, and values.
  9. Engage in life-long learning.

Agricultural Communication Minor

An interdisciplinary minor sponsored by the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences and the College of Liberal Arts. For more information, see the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences section.

Computing for Interactive Arts Minor

An interdisciplinary minor sponsored by the Art and Design department and the Computer Science department. For more information, see the Computer Science section.

Indigenous Studies in Natural Resources and the Environment Minor

An interdisciplinary minor sponsored by the departments of Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences and Ethnic Studies. For more information, see the Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences section.

Integrated Marketing Communications Minor

An interdisciplinary minor sponsored by the Orfalea College of Business and the College of Liberal Arts. For more information, see the Orfalea College of Business section.

Western Intellectual Tradition Minor

Faculty Offices North (Bldg. 47), Room 34F
Phone: 805.756.2974

Professor and Director: D. Kenneth Brown

This minor is designed to appeal not only to majors in the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Science and Mathematics, but to a cross-section of students in major programs throughout the university community. It focuses on the major accomplishments of the Western intellectual tradition through courses that trace the development of literary expression, philosophical and scientific thought, and historical understanding from their beginnings to the modern world. Courses in the minor provide direct experience with significant works of the Western tradition, and also expose students to crucial ideas and themes that shaped Western thought and culture. Such exposure cultivates the intellectual skills of analysis and creative expression, and promotes an understanding of the inherent intellectual debate and diversity within the Western intellectual tradition.

Prerequisites. Students must complete the second quarter of calculus (MATH 142 or MATH 182) or the fourth quarter of a foreign language (FR 201, GER 201, ITAL 201, SPAN 201 [GE C5]) or equivalent. The prerequisites reflect the centrality of both mathematics and language to the Western intellectual tradition. Mathematics pervades the modern world and has a particularly close connection with the human capacity for learning. To study a language other than English is to study English as well, and promotes insight into language in general as the articulation of experience and the discourse of reason.

Degree Requirements and Curriculum