College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences

The Liberal Arts Foundation at Southwest Minnesota State University

Southwest Minnesota State University provides students with an excellent education, an education that not only readies them for meaningful employment after graduation, but also prepares them for change and growth across both their personal and professional lives. 

Get Ready for Change!

On average, recent college graduates will hold 4 different jobs within the first 10 years after graduation.  This job mobility is the new normal, and it creates an environment that rewards people who have “transferrable skills,” skills that are useful in any industry or job climate.  These include analytical and critical thinking, written and oral communication, reading and math competence, a global perspective, and problem solving ability. These are the very skills employers say they want in employees, and they’re skills that are developed and honed by a liberal education. 

A Liberal Education teaches “Transferrable Skills”

The College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences provides the liberal arts foundation to students at Southwest Minnesota State University through the Liberal Education Program (LEP).  Through the LEP, students will engage in scientific inquiry; explore how humans express themselves through the fine arts, literature, and language; recognize how humans behave in our various social institutions; and understand the language of mathematics and computer science.  These various modes of understanding the world and our place in the world provide SMSU graduates the skills needed to navigate a complex and changing world, preparing them for a life that is successful both professionally and personally. 

Liberal Education has a Long History in Higher Education… for Good Reason

A liberal education has for millennia been associated with personal freedom.  Related to the concept of “liberty,” a liberal education provides an element of personal independence, an ability to think and draw conclusions for oneself as well as knowledge of how to find well-reasoned answers when faced with unknowns. 

People who have the foundation of a liberal education tend to exhibit greater critical thinking skills, engagement in civic life, and even greater empathy towards other people. 

Think about it, the more you learn about the natural world and our place in it, the more you see how people express the human condition through the arts and literature, the more you see humans in the context of their history and their societal institutions, the better equipped you are to deal with the complexity of our world. 

Liberal Arts Majors and Minors

While the College of Arts, Letters and Sciences offers the Liberal Education Program required of all students, the College also offers a wide variety of majors and minors in the liberal arts tradition.  These majors can be what are often considered the traditional disciplines, such as Mathematics, English, and Biology, but can also be majors that allow one to apply the skills learned from these disciplines, such as majors in Computer Science, Professional Writing, and Exercise Science.  Majors in the liberal arts can lead to a variety of careers, and a minor from the liberal arts pairs extremely well with any major, including the more applied programs of study.

The departments in the College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences are English, Philosophy, Spanish and Humanities; Fine Arts and Communication; Mathematics and Computer Science; Science; and Social Science.  The Honors Program and the McFarland Library are also housed in the College.  A list of majors and minors in the College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences can be found in the Academic Catalog.

Dr. Aimee Shouse is the Dean of the College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences, and has served in this role since arriving at SMSU in July of 2017.  Shouse received her B.S. in Political Science from the University of Central Arkansas and her Ph.D. in Political Science from Vanderbilt University, where she studied the influence of interest group politics in congressional policy making.  Prior to coming to Southwest Minnesota State University, she was at Western Illinois University, serving as a faculty member in the Department of Political Science from 1993-2008, as chair of the Department of Women’s Studies from 2008-2016, and then as the Program Director for the interdisciplinary Liberal Arts and Sciences Program, including minors in African American Studies, Religious Studies, and Women’s Studies.  She hopes to use her experience with multiple programs in her role as dean, and to educate students about the many opportunities a degree in the liberal arts can provide.
Office: BA 262 | Phone: 507.537.6251 Email:


Last Modified: 11/16/17 9:35 AM