Liberal Arts and Sciences

Our Liberal Arts and Sciences curriculum supports and expands your art and design training at Otis College.

We build your experience around four themes: Connecting to creativity, arguing for humanity, math and science in action, and resourcing the future. Through courses that emphasize critical thinking in writing, visual literacy, the sciences, and art history, you’ll cultivate an understanding of context and culture.

Thinking critically, creatively, and expansively is at the heart of the Liberal Arts and Sciences departmental mission. Our goal is to create spaces where students can take a journey from their personal understanding of creativity, develop tools, and make connections to the ways of thinking, knowing, and understanding that are happening globally. As one of the most geographically, culturally, and socioeconomically diverse art and design colleges in the United States, we are well situated to take students on this journey. Although Liberal Arts and Sciences  is not a degree-conferring department, our courses augment the skills-based education students receive in studio courses through an exploration of the ideas, theories, and worldviews that inform those practices.

We accomplish this through our disciplinary pillars: art history, English, social sciences, and math and natural sciences. These courses provide opportunities for discovery that are essential to the development of students’ creative sensibilities, professional vision, and intellectual aptitude. The combination of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Studio courses grounds students’ educational experiences from Foundation year through their senior capstones and final studio projects.


Students talking in classroom at Otis College

Connecting to Creativity

We never forget that Otis students are designers and artists. Whatever the topic at hand, courses explore specific connections between creative practice and the needs of our world

Teacher talking with students in classroom

Arguing for Humanity

Critical thinking and intellectual rigor are brought to bear as students learn to reason, communicate, and ask challenging questions about our society, past, present, and future.

Geometric sculpture

Math and Science in Action

Courses in math, cognition, ergonomics, and more are tailored to the needs of artists and designers. We equip students with essential, directly applicable skills to flourish in the industries of the future.

Students in critique during art class at Otis College

Resourcing the Future

We prepare students to become lifelong learners and encourage them to think about how they can use their passion, art, and design skills to address pressing challenges.


Addressing Local and Global Perspectives

The Liberal Arts and Sciences department continually works to expand our representation of diverse cultures. In addition to introducing the Western canon, the department’s courses will also encourage discussion about today’s pressing topics.

An important aspect of your educational development is the exploration of challenging societal issues such as structural racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, ableism, and transphobia. We believe that such engagement will not only be crucial to your career as an artist or designer; it will also give you an important  conceptual framework for understanding the world you have inherited and how you might affect change.

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The Liberal Arts and Sciences are the nexus of all education, providing us with the tools to understand the past, negotiate the present, and create the future. Without them we are lost; with them we can reimagine anything."
Departmental Mission Statement

Essential Toolbox

See what our alumni and faculty have to say about the value of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and how we enhance students’ abilities to read, question, research, rethink, speculate, argue, connect, understand, write, create, and inspire.

Students reading in the Otis College Library

“Liberal Arts and Sciences classes enhance the way you are able to see, create, and analyze art.” —Olivia Warren, '20 BFA Fine Arts

Students analyzing a piece of art on the wall

"Liberal Arts and Sciences ask that we pay attention to other voices, other times, other disciplines. The paradox of this attention towards others is that it's the only way to enrich our studio practice. Only by availing ourselves of these broad networks of culture can we create with wisdom." —Maggie Light, Faculty

Students researching a piece of art

"The foundational knowledge gained in Liberal Arts and Sciences is often the raw material artists and designers use to create art and design. Can you design a video game based on Norse and Asian myths without studying myths in an Liberal Arts and Sciences class?" —Sung Ju Ahn, Faculty

Students looking at art on the wall
"My LAS classes help me understand what I’m trying to do in the studio." —Ahrielle McLaughlin, '17
Students looking at art
"Contemporary Art [a Liberal Arts and Sciences course] pushed me to what I am now doing on a regular basis, which is to look at work in my field and see what other artists are doing and talking about." —Edgar Ramirez, '18 BFA Fine Arts
Students looking at art
"Liberal Arts and Sciences classes are important because they bring up conversations about political correctness, equity, the power of storytelling, as well as how to consider the societal effects and impacts your rhetoric, visuals, and designs have on the world around you." —Regis Peeples Faculty
Students looking at art
"The classes taught me to engage collaboratively with other students while giving me insight and exposure to real-world practices." —Frankie Hamersma, '15 BFA Communication Arts
Students looking at art
"Liberal Arts and Sciences is the base structure and the connecting glue that helps form your overall knowledge of your major." —Javier Diaz, '20 BFA Product Design
Students looking at art
"After experiencing four years in Liberal Arts and Sciences classes, my English improved a lot, and that gave me tremendous confidence." —Ran Tamada, '20 BFA Product Design
Students looking at art
"At the studio, ideas take form, but at Liberal Arts and Sciences, ideas are born." —Elisa Toscano, '20 BFA Graphic Design
Students revisiting art design
"Armed with critical thinking skills and knowledge of cultures and social structures gained through Liberal Arts and Sciences courses, the artists at Otis are prepared to positively add to and become drivers of cultures worldwide." —Dontae Mahoney, '20 BFA Graphic Design
Student drawing in class


Learn more about the first year curriculum, creative action courses, honors program, and more.

Student drawing in class

About Liberal Arts and Sciences

The curriculum addresses the themes of creativity, diversity, identity, sustainability, and social responsibility.

Liberal Arts and Sciences Faculty

Kerri Steinberg's Picture

Kerri Steinberg

Department Chair

Department: Liberal Arts and Sciences

JoAnn Staten

JoAnn Staten

Acting Assistant Chair

Department: Liberal Arts and Sciences

Meet the Faculty

Contact Us

Wherever you are in your college search, we want to meet you! Our counselors are here to answer your questions about Otis College and help you with the application process.

Phone: 310-665-6820
SMS: 323-870-6820

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