LAIS expands program opportunities


You may think of Liberal Arts and International Studies (LAIS) as a pision that offers some writing classes but no majors, masters programs or real value for a Mines graduate.  But that old reputation is rapidly changing.  LAIS still offers required courses like Nature and Human Values and Human Systems, but it also has growing offerings in minors like STEP (Science, Technology, Energy, and Policy), LSE (Literature, Society and Environment), Humanitarian Studies, IPE (International Political Economy), and an outstanding masters’ program called MIPER (Masters in International Political Economy of Resources).  MIPER has no GRE requirement and can be completed with a Mines undergraduate degree in as little as an additional year.

The LAIS pision at Mines is answering the call for more liberal arts education for engineers as the leaders of the future.  Dr. Shirley Jackson, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute says, “As engineering and the technological revolution continue to transform our world, we must assure that those who steer these changes understand the totality of the human condition, and that brings us back to the liberal arts.”  This is why campuses across the country are beginning to emphasize humanities and social science courses for engineering and science degrees.  Mines students can set themselves apart from the pack of technical graduates by pursuing any of the LAIS minors or the MIPER graduate program.

The International Political Economy (IPE) minor focuses on the interplay between economic and political forces that shape and affect relations among the world’s developed and developing areas. The coursework is particularly focused on the dynamic interactions between politics and economics, both within countries and on a global scale. The MIPER program applies these discussions to resource use in particular.  For more information on the IPE minor, contact Dr. James Jesudason at and you can contact Dr. Hussein Amery at regarding the MIPER program.

The STEP minor (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Policy) focuses on science and technology in a societal context: how science, technology, and engineering (STE) influence society, politics, and policy and conversely, how society, politics, and policy influence STE.  The courses provide historical and analytical approaches to questions confronting professionals in the public and private sectors.  Students study, for example, intellectual property rights, science policy formation, regulatory regimes, assessments of social impacts, and the roles of technical innovation in economic development or international competitiveness.  Contact Dr. Carl Mitcham at or Dr. Jason Delborne at to design a course sequence for this minor.

Literature, Society, and Environment (LSE) is a minor for students with a passion for literature and an interest in exploring relationships between literary traditions and the broader social and environmental processes.  Students will develop forms of intellectual creativity and sensitivity to social and environmental dynamics increasingly expected of 21st century scientists and engineers.  Contact Dr. Gianquitto or Dr. Straker at or

Finally, the Humanitarian Studies minor focuses on the intersection of science, technology, and engineering in humanitarian projects.  Scientific, technological, and engineering-oriented humanitarian projects are intended to help marginalized communities meet basic human needs (such as food, water, and shelter) when these are missing or inadequate.  Students take LAIS 320 Ethics with Sandy Woodson, among other LAIS and technical electives.  Please contact Sandy Woodson for enrollment information at

Overall, the LAIS department is providing an array of value-added degrees for Mines students with varied interests and future careers.  These programs are supported by a talented and perse faculty, with expertise in fields such as communications, development, policy studies, ethics, literature and film, water resources, political relations, and regional integration, to name a few.  We look forward to helping you design a minor or classes to fit your needs and help you stand above the crowd at graduation.


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