St. Lawrence University receives state approval for new liberal arts business major
Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 9:37 am

CANTON — St. Lawrence University has a new business major to offer its students, which faculty and administrators say is a little different than the typical business-degree program.

The New York State Education Department recently approved the course of study the university is calling a Business in the Liberal Arts major, allowing students to begin working toward the new degree this fall semester. But graduates will earn a bachelor of arts degree instead of the standard business bachelor of science degree.

Valerie Lehr, the college’s vice president and dean of academic affairs, said the program is actually a double major, meaning it requires a second major in order for students to graduate with it.

“Economics might be the most obvious degree program students would pair with it, but other complementary degrees might include philosophy, government, history, even performance and communication arts,” Lehr said. “The interdisciplinary nature of the program will provide students with a well-rounded background in the liberal arts, which will be useful for them as they set out to begin their careers.”

According to the program proposal, the major is rooted in the premise that “a liberally educated individual will bring to bear multiple perspectives and deploy multiple strategies in solving a wide variety of problems.”

Brian Chezum, associate professor of economics at St. Lawrence University and author of the program proposal, said that a typical business program is based on management, marketing, accounting, finance and economics. The marketing and management training, while not explicit in the new liberal arts business degree, are achieved in other ways.

“All of the things we do to teach students here at St. Lawrence are done to help them develop critical thinking skills,” he said.

In addition to required courses, the new major will have a required practical component, such as an off-campus internship or approved off-campus study, and students will need to complete elective courses that emphasize social responsibility, global citizenship, analytic thinking and social contexts.