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Athabasca University

Focus Areas

Adult Education

Adult education is education for life, not just for a living; it has a “social” purpose – that of supporting participatory democracy and community development. In recent years, adult education has been used to describe all provision of education and training for adults, and the courses in this focus area will allow students to examine the breadth and depth of adult education as a field of practice.

Foundational Courses for Adult Education

Recommended Courses within Adult Education

Additional Courses within Adult Education

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Community Studies

Community Studies explores issues of social justice and social change as they relate to community-based organizing, community economic development, education, and social movements. It will be of interest to students working with community groups, the non-profit sector, social enterprises, and social economy organizations; those interested in CED theory and practice for social change; and adult and distance educators interested in social transformation in both developed and developing world contexts.

Foundational Courses for Community Studies

Recommended Courses within Community Studies

Available as a Reading Course

  • GLST 650 - Sustainable Development in an Age of Global Change (content currently available as a Reading Course)
  • What is Globalism? (content currently available as a Reading Course)

Additional Courses within Community Studies

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Cultural Studies

Cultural Studies is the exploration of the links between the arts and other human activities in complex societies. It includes both high art and popular culture, both ancient texts and new hypertexts. Cultural Studies is interdisciplinary in its methodologies and in its goals of finding integrated and contextualized views of human cultural activities. It is centrally concerned with issues of identity and power, particularly relating to gender, ethnicity, class and other sites of contestation.

Cultural Studies courses will be of interest to all those wishing to understand the myriad ways in which cultural texts and practices construct and reproduce representations of ourselves and our societies.

Foundational Courses for Cultural Studies

Recommended Courses within Cultural Studies

NOTE: MHST deadlines and course registration fees apply.

Available as a Reading Course

  • Women and Psychology (available as a reading course)
  • History of Anthropological Theory (available as a reading course)
  • Sociology of Health & Environment (available as a reading course)

Additional Courses within Cultural Studies

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Educational Studies

The Educational Studies provides a "critical foundations approach" to understanding educational issues and practices by drawing upon a range of theories and methods from history, sociology, cultural studies, economics, political science, philosophy and psychology. This approach provides viewers with a critical, integrated understanding of the relations between instructors/teachers, students/learners, educational organization(s) and society. This focus of study will not only be of interest to teachers and other school professionals (administrators, counselors, and psychologists), but also to those who wish to develop a greater understanding of the forces that shape and influence public policy and practice.

The Educational Studies focus area is flexible and provides opportunities for students to configure clusters of courses that address individual interests. A cluster of courses with social justice themes may be created for a teacher or administrator who wants to create ways to address racial, ethnic and cultural differences. Another cluster of courses may be created for a policy analyst (administrator and adult educator) interested in understanding organizations, such as colleges and universities, as sites of leadership, change and transformation.

Foundational Courses for Educational Studies

Recommended Courses within Educational Studies

Additional Courses within Educational Studies

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Equity Studies

Equity Studies is a disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and multi-disciplinary approach to social justice and inequality. Ranging across the local, regional, national, and global, Equity Studies explores inequalities between and among humans that are based on socially produced categories of geography, religion, race, gender, disability, age, class, and sexuality. It also includes issues related to inter-species equality, environmental justice, and intergenerational equality. After completion of the foundations course “Equality in Context” (MAIS 635), students may focus on a specific topic including inequality linked to a group identity (for example, gender, disability or species); social movement activism; policy or practice analysis (human rights, Canadian Charter of Rights); an event (for example war, famine); environmental justice; or a specific effect of inequality (for example, homelessness, food security, poverty, joblessness).

Equity Studies will be of interest to those wishing to engage research and scholarship in the voluntary, public or private sectors; at the local, regional, or international levels; in relation to family, religion, education, politics, healthcare, social work, police work, the armed forces, government, policy development or the legal system, or other areas involving interaction with humans, other species, or the environment, including environmental, intergenerational, and inter-species justice. Students are encouraged to start with MAIS 635 Equality in Context.

Foundational Courses for Equity Studies

Recommended Courses within Equity Studies

Available as a Reading Course

  • Women and Psychology (Ross)
  • Theories of Subjectivity (Filax)
  • Equity and Human Rights (Joy Fraser)
  • Human Rights, the Charter, and Labour Rights (Barnetson)
  • International Political Economy: The Politics of Globalization (Shrivastava)
  • Global Development Strategies (Shrivastava)
  • Africa in the World (Joe Kelly)

Additional Courses within Equity Studies

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Global Change

The Global Change stream explores claims and realities of economic and cultural globalization; the role of emerging technologies in global change; the effects of neo-liberal globalism on the nation state, local spaces, and international governance; the unequal impacts of global change on women, indigenous peoples, the developing countries, and local and global ecosystems; as well as examining resistance and accommodation to global forces.

Foundational Courses for Global Change

Recommended Courses within Global Change

Available as a Reading Course

  • GLST 650 Sustainable Development in an Age of Global Change (content currently available as a Reading Course)

Additional Courses within Global Change

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Heritage and Social History

The Heritage and Social History focus area will provide a unique opportunity for students to study theoretical and applied issues in heritage and social history using an interdisciplinary approach. Combining the fields of social history and heritage studies, this focus draws on the strengths of the History and Heritage Resource Management programs at Athabasca University to offer an interdisciplinary approach to the study of social traditions and institutions and historical patterns, with an emphasis (but not an exclusive focus) on Canadian history and heritage.

Note: Heritage and Social History is not open to students admitted prior to September 1, 2011.

Foundational Courses for Heritage and Social History

Recommended Courses within Heritage and Social History

*Note: HERM 691 (BPDHRM graduates only may use this practicum course)

Additional Courses within Heritage and Social History

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Independent Track

Students who wish to declare an Independent Track focus area must contact the MA-IS Office to obtain the permission of the Director or Associate Director.

The Independent Track is reserved for highly motivated students who have demonstrated excellence in their previous studies. Applications for permission must include: a proposed list of courses, the sequence and timeline within which the listed courses will be completed, and an explanation as to how the listed courses relate to one another and contribute to the student\'s overall learning goal(s). For further information on the Independent Track, please contact the MA-IS Office.

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Literary Studies

Literary Studies encourages students to take an interdisciplinary and comparative approach to the study of literature. We will read works from the English-speaking world as well as works in English translation. We will work across the Humanities and the social sciences to follow the literary interests of individual students and the research and teaching strengths of faculty.

Students who have declared their focus area in Literary Studies will be expected to do a final project on a literary topic with a supervisor in Literary Studies.

Prospective students can contact the focus area’s steward, Dr. Joe Pivato,

NOTE: Literary Studies is not open to students admitted prior to September 1, 2011.

Foundational Courses for Literary Studies

Recommended Courses within Literary Studies

Additional Courses within Literary Studies

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Work, Organization & Leadership

Work, Organization, and Leadership draws from the humanities, social sciences, labour studies, gender studies and cultural studies to examine contemporary developments in the world of work, organizations and leadership. This focus area will be of interest to administrators and workers in the public sector, non-government organizations, and the corporate world as well as those interested in processes of change in business and workplaces.

Foundational Courses for Work, Organization & Leadership

Recommended Courses within Work, Organization & Leadership

NOTE: MHST deadlines and course registration fees apply.

Additional Courses within Work, Organization & Leadership

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Writing and New Media

The Writing and New Media focus area provides an opportunity to students interested in all aspects of writing, both professional and creative, and explores the ways in which the new media of publication and communication (the internet, the world wide web) provide new forms and genres of writing and communication. This stream will interest students wishing to explore the many ways in which digital multimedia communications change modes of communication, interaction, and publication and, with them, social, political and economic patterns of experience and behavior on a global scale.

Note: Writing and New Media is not open to students admitted prior to September 1, 2011.

Foundational Courses for Writing and New Media

  • MAIS 623 - Introduction to Trends in New Media: Digital Humanities (January 2015)

Recommended Courses within Writing and New Media

Additional Courses within Writing and New Media

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Focus Areas Under Development

Canadian Studies

* Note: This area of concentration is under development and may be subject to change. Degrees will not be awarded with this specialization at this time

Canadian Studies is a multi-disciplinary stream of inquiry exploring the nature of Canada and Canadian society from a range of critical perspectives in the humanities and social sciences.

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Updated October 08 2014 by Student & Academic Services

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