DIVERSE TOPICS PROVIDE UNIQUE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES IN MASTER’S IN APPLIED ARTS & SCIENCES
Jim Scott is a self-described “information junkie.”
“I like to know a lot about a lot of different things,” he says.
He wasn’t looking for a degree when a colleague mentioned the online Master of Arts in Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) program at UNCG, but after 30 years in radio, he says his career had lost some of its spark.
“I had kind of gotten into a pattern of redundancy with what I was doing,” he says. “I was still having a lot of fun in broadcasting, but every day presented the same sort of routine. I was still trying to be creative in a world that was not demanding enough creativity.”
‘Diverse but useable courses’
MAAS, formerly known as Master’s of Arts in Liberal Studies, is a fully online degree that connects political, historical, economical, and social issues with real-world projects. In the customizable program, students draw on their own experience and apply what they’re learning to solve real problems.
Having a program with a range of topics to study appealed to Scott. He enrolled in the program in 2009 and chose classes based on what sounded interesting. “I didn’t set out looking for a poetry class or a Shakespeare class, but there it was,” he says. “It’s a remarkable collection of very diverse but very useable courses.”
Choosing a single discipline, he says, wouldn’t have offered as much variety.
“The program kind of gave me a rainbow of options,” he says. “I wouldn’t have to just immerse myself into that same narrow parameter that I was facing in my job.”
Accessibility to challenging subjects
One course was such a life changer for Scott, it took him across the Atlantic. Janne Cannon’s Global Perspectives in Biology was the most challenging course he took. “She created it wonderfully for people who do not have a background in science to be able to approach the subject matter,” he says.
The Ghost Map, a course reading about the 1800s London cholera epidemic, intrigued Scott so much that he researched the story and traveled to London to see the area himself.
“Part of it was history. It just tripped my triggers,” he says. “I just kind of jumped into the tale.”
Years later, when his daughter came along, his wife suggested naming her London because of his experience there.
Online courses fit around your schedule
The portability of online classes meshed with Scott’s busy work schedule. At the time, he was creative director at a radio station during the day and spent spring and summer as the public-address announcer for the Greensboro Grasshoppers minor league baseball team. He took MAAS courses during the fall and winter when he could dedicate his free time to classwork. The ease of online meant he could complete coursework when he had the time.
Next steps for the future:
Scott finished his degree in 2014 and became an adjunct professor at High Point University where he now teaches audio production, human communication, public speaking, persuasive speaking, and sport marketing. He credits MAAS with getting him the position. This summer, he’ll become a permanent faculty member as well as director of HPU’s Summer Experience.
While he shares skills from his professional career with his students, he says without the master’s, his job at HPU would not have been available to him.
What he learned in the program has helped him see things from a different perspective, reinvigorate his writing, and appreciate the functionality of online, he says.
In the future, he hopes to develop online courses at HPU. Because he was a recent student, he empathizes with his students. Making things user friendly is important so more time can be spent on study. That’s something he got from UNCG, who, he says, did it well.