Integrating Work and Life in the Online Classroom

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MAIS

Athabasca University’s Masters in Integrated Studies Program

One of the largest Master of Arts programs in interdisciplinary studies in Canada, Athabasca University’s MA Program in Integrated Studies (MA-IS) includes courses across the full spectrum of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, from literature to anthropology, and from global studies to education studies. Across a wide variety of over 90 courses from which students can select, the MA-IS Program integrates a variety of disciplines to form 11 interdisciplinary Focus Areas in broad fields such as community, culture, education, equity/justice, globalization, heritage resources, labour, leadership, literature, new media, and organizational studies.

A MA-IS degree offers students the opportunity to engage in a unique program of study spanning the arts, humanities, and social sciences. The degree is comprehensive in scope but specific in focus, allowing students to either select from among the focus areas or forge their own path along an independent track. Students are taught to think holistically, critically, and reflectively, and to examine the differences as well as continuities between specialized and generalized knowledge. Exposure to a range of disciplines and interdisciplinary methods prepares students to envisage and pursue innovative approaches to local, national, and global issues. The degree teaches students to situate and contextualize knowledge on a broad intellectual continuum that integrates theories, methods, and practices from the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

MA-IS History

Opened in 2000 with 25 students, MA-IS now numbers over 700 students and 600 graduates.  Students often study part-time while employed in fields as diverse as teaching, the civil service, the non-profit sector, and community organizations. Many professions now require not only expertise in their various fields of specialization but also a wide and deep knowledge of national and global conditions, and of the social, cultural, historical, economic, and political patterns that give rise to those conditions. To be an effective citizen as well as a competent professional today entails a well-grounded understanding of these contexts in order to make informed choices and ethical decisions. Hence employers often make substantial contributions to the cost and time needed to complete the degree. Students realize they need to develop their careers by broadening the scope of their specific and general knowledge as well as pursuing richly rewarding paths of study for their own personal growth and development, all of which in the end makes them more valuable to their current or future organizations and employers.

The MA-IS Program promotes the integration of diverse knowledge focused on real-world problems across disciplines, exploring innovative disciplinary combinations to find fresh approaches and perspectives suited to the complexity of global conditions.  The “integration” in Integrated Studies expresses the goal of innovative disciplinary combinations, as well as the bringing together of work, study, and life experience in the online classroom, enabling students to make key choices in how they follow their interests and achieve the all-important balance of personal, professional, and academic growth and fulfillment.  MA-IS students have enjoyed distinguished success in national scholarship competitions and in gaining admittance to doctoral programs in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

As part of an ongoing effort to showcase some of the great programs we offer here at Athabasca University, you’ll be seeing a monthly post about each of the focus areas in MA-IS Program. Each post will be written by one of the faculty stewards who oversees the focus area in his/her specific area of expertise.

Be sure to check back regularly!

Dr. Wendell Kisner
MA-IS Program Director
Athabasca University

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