Chicago Crime Article by Friend of MALS/IDS

by Angelina Mendez

Friend and occasional MALS/IDS faculty member, Noah Isackson, has had a string of publicity lately surrounding his recent article in Chicago Magazine.

The article, an interview of Chicago Police Department Superintendant Garry McCarthy and an investigation of the rising rates of Chicago violent crime was published in the August edition of the magazine. Isackson explores the Superintendant’s history and his rise up the ranks of three cities’ departments. He then explains and examines the crime-fighting strategies used here in Chicago and how much murder rates have risen in the past year.

A recent interview Isackson did on the local Chicago Fox News channel focuses on the article and the problems with the work being done to fight violent crime as it related to gangs in the city. The Fraternal Order of Police President, Michael Shields, was also on the segment. He advocates more police officers being hired as a way to support and defend those already working to fight gang violence throughout the city.

Isackson was also interviewed on NPR recently regarding this issue. He talks about the concern with the rise in the rates of violent crime over the past year and the response that the Superintendant has been advocating to lower that rate.

If you have a chance, please read, view, and listen to these pieces. They provide a plethora of information about the problem of crime in the city and give different views of the related facts and statistics. Noah Isackson gives a grounded understanding of the problems in the city and really showcases his full understanding of the issue in these three pieces.

Again, the article can be found at; the video interview can be found at; and the radio interview can be found at

DePaul’s MALS/IDS: Turn Here to Exit the Beaten Path! Explore Innovative Alternatives to Traditional MBA Programs

by Susan Jacobs

Janet Kidd, in her Chicago Tribune, May 18 article Charting a Different Course, begins her article by saying “Getting an MBA is still the logical step toward the corner office, but more students are veering off the beaten path. Business schools increasingly are offering a wide range of specialized degrees or partnering with sibling departments within their universities to mix business and a host of other disciplines.” Let’s extend our academic and professional definition of interdisciplinary studies and describe how DePaul University’s interdisciplinary MALS and IDS programs stand on their own. MALS and IDS students build their own customized, graduate programs, which often serve as creative alternatives to traditional MBA programs.

DePaul’s Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) and Master of Arts/Science in Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS)  have inspired students from diverse educational and professional backgrounds to develop innovative degrees for several decades. And as our alumni Laura McGlaughlin (IDS 2012) says in the Trib article, our graduates do have to explain their unique degrees to prospective employers, that is, unless they’re off launching their own corporations, as Laura has done. MALS and IDS students, within the parameters of each program, may draw from multiple areas throughout the University to self-construct their own Master’s Degree programs.

Laura_mclaughlin_screenshot – The Glass Rooster | Country Concepts for an Urban Lifestyle

According to our program guidelines, each individual curriculum must be truly interdisciplinary. Students choose from a variety of 12 or 13 course options (48 or 52 credit hours); they may choose no more than six courses from any particular school or discipline, and no more than five from DePaul’s Kellstadt School of Business.

Our students have proposed and completed some incredibly creative academic and professional study programs. Some students start with a very fixed notion of the exact courses they intend to take, and have already identified a professional or academic niche they intend to fill. For instance, Kyle Moses (IDS 2010) knew from the start that he wanted to combine disability studies with improv comedy and psychology courses.  In addition to traditionally offered courses, he added internships with Piven Theatre, Second City and Improv Olympics. He pulled in a couple of courses in disability studies from a neighboring university, and leveraged his self-constructed degree to support his successful candidacy to a PhD program in New York.


Kiel Moses (IDS 2012) presents his culminating project.

Other students use their studies to pursue avenues of thought they have longed to explore. Dr. Frank Chaten (MALS 2012), a physician, decided after 20 years of practicing pediatric critical care medicine, that parts of his brain needed to be reawakened by studying issues apart from his narrow field of work. He discovered what he refers to as the challenge of choosing unanticipated paths. While his thesis brought him back to medical issues relating to tissue donation, he combined courses in philosophy, religion, ethics and literature to support his thesis. Scroll through our blog and check into our issues of Convergence to read many more profiles of who our students are and what they’ve done.


Dr. Gitomer, MALS/IDS Director chats with Dr. Frank Chaten, MALS Graduate

As a program administrator and academic advisor, I am well-aware of the challenges our working adult students face. They juggle family, work and academics as they push forward. They deal with financial stress, daily life, and ongoing questions of what their efforts will lead to. Graduate studies are rigorous, and our economy promises uncertain outcomes. So, back to that question: how do our students market their unique interdisciplinary degrees?

Whether our students are trying to progress in a given field, switch careers, or are pursuing personal enrichment, they use our programs’ flexibility to strengthen not only what they can offer the workplace, but also to enhance their own sense of personal fulfillment. So while our degrees are not comparable to the known qualities of an MBA, CPA or other traditional degrees, our students can articulate very specific individualized skill sets and critical thinking skills that more traditional graduates haven’t yet exercised. And our students are well-supported by DePaul’s Career Center and academic advisors from the students’ first proposals to culminating projects— each student is well-supported in their efforts to enter whatever the next stage is they wish to explore.

Our students don’t just “think outside the box.” They create new paradigms, they see more possibilities, they know how to combine varied problem-solving options that  are most definitely marketable. If you think of our economy as similar to any career changing adult who must rethink, retool and redirect, those students who step beyond the expected and create their own directions are uniquely qualified to add to that corporate setting as it also changes paths.

I think that if we look at economic trends in relation to educational cycles, these forces are always aware of each other, but not always in synch. Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen seismic shifts in technology jobs, corporate structures, evolving new industries—- with economic stressors, it seems almost impossible to predict what professions will be in demand. We can’t all be managers; we can’t all be CEOs; and we certainly can’t all be one of anything. MALS/IDS graduates are those students who recognize that various blends of the many possible areas of expertise are going to be very useful in the evolving marketplace.

When our 2012 graduates gathered for an afternoon celebration, hearing about how their different backgrounds, goals and accomplishments was so encouraging, not just because of how unique each was, but because of how each graduate had actualized individualized ideas and intentions. Each of our students can market unique outlooks and skill sets; MALS and IDS produces active thinkers and successful doers.


DePaul’s MALS and IDS students share their diverse accomplishments at our Spring Gathering

Charting a different course

Instead of getting an MBA, Laura McLaughlin is taking a mix of business, sociology, marketing and PR courses at DePaul University in order to bolster her business resume.

( Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune / May 8, 2012 )

Instead of getting an MBA, Laura McLaughlin is taking a mix of business, sociology, marketing and PR courses at DePaul University in order to bolster her business resume.


At DePaul University, graduate students can weave business courses into a master’s degree they design for their own interests.

With a sales background and a startup company on her resume, an MBA could have been a natural progression for Laura McLaughlin.

Instead, she is completing a master’s degree at DePaul’s Interdisciplinary Studies Program, combining sociology and communications courses with traditional business classes at the school’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business.

“It’s a bit of a challenge to explain. I’m a real eclectic mix,” said McLaughlin, who went back to school midcareer to break away from strictly sales positions.

Ultimately, she envisions a career helping companies with their communications strategies. Already, she has started her own food-canning instruction business and companion social media presence (

McLaughlin admits to the occasional worry that her degree will be viewed skeptically. She is confident she can connect the dots in a face-to-face interview, but without a traditional MBA her resume will fall through the cracks of recruiting software or strict hiring procedures.

“The degree isn’t a shingle the way an MBA is,” said David Gitomer, director of Interdisciplinary Studies at DePaul, where students are given broad latitude to design their degrees.

“If you are going into a gigantic corporate setting where they want someone with an MBA, then go do an MBA. But if you’re going into a smaller company where you may wear different hats, this can actually work quite well.”

The rest of the article can be read at,0,2462717.story

Source: Chicago Tribune

Where MALS/IDS has taken us this year???

Whether I am physically making a journey to the AGLSP Annual Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY, attending the Land Ethics Leadership Training session in Baraboo, Wisconsin, or hearing about our student’s geographical/intellectual journeys, I feel truly lucky to experience these explorations via DePaul’s MALS and IDS Programs. Our students continue to take advantage of DePaul’s wide-ranging Study Abroad options, several have begun their dissertations, and we continue to draw students from around the US and beyond to our programs. In fact, one of our graduating IDS students, Dana Turner, has been invited to present her culminating project at The American University in Paris. Another student, Laura McLaughlin, was featured on “190 North” in connection with her “Glass Rooster” business. And we have the largest graduating class we’ve had in several years.  This past academic year acted as a “room addition” to my awareness of what’s going on in the world, and like our students, I feel that my consciousness has been happily expanded.


This past October, MALS/IDS Director David Gitomer and I travelled to Saratoga Springs, NY for the annual Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs (AGLSP, meeting. The conference was centered around the theme of water and its critical role in our 21st century ability to thrive/survive in every way. This meeting brings together directors and students from MALS programs throughout the US and Canada for intensive presentations and workshops. We shared best practices, and learned about the geology, sociology, and economy of cultures that consciously (or not) rely on and care for the water supplies that allow us to thrive.


Earlier last summer, I participated in the Aldo Leopold Center’s Land Ethics Leadership Program in Baraboo, WI ( For two days, international participants explored literature, art, history and science to learn new ways of creating conversation and extending awareness of the way humans and nature interact. In addition to leadership exercises, we bent our backs to the task of removing non-native species from the center’s prairie tracts, shared organic locavore cuisine, and learned to do what Leopold did best: we learned to listen. In my urban/suburban daily activities, I rarely get a chance to quiet the chatter, and after a bit of a struggle, I felt the luxury of becoming truly quiet.


Participants of Land Ethics training were granted licensing permission to show the 2011 documentary Green Fire, which chronicles the life and work of Aldo Leopold. MALS/IDS shared the bounty, and on Nov. 7, offered an across-the-discipline screening of the film followed by lively discussion. We coordinated the screening with Adult Student Services and the Alumni Association. Guests joined us from the Chicago Wetlands Management Project, Loyola University, the Peggy Notebaart Nature Museum. DePaul’s LAS Assistant Dean of Students, Randy Honold, MALS student Jeff Tangel, and MALS/IDS Program Assistant Joe Andrukaitis (MA NMA, 2011) led the post-screening discussion of the film and Leopold’s landmark work, A Sand County Almanac. The event dovetailed nicely Randy Honold’s Winter Quarter course, MLS 409, Environment and Society.


We don’t have to look far to find exciting connectivity within and beyond the DePaul community. The problems facing our world are complex and the minds best suited to solve many of those problems will be those which can creatively draw from many disciplines. MALS and IDS programs provide portals that foster connectivity between academic, professional and personal worlds.

Article by Susan Jacobs, MALS/IDS Associate Director

The Master???s as the New Bachelor???s

William Klein’s story may sound familiar to his fellow graduates. After earning his bachelor’s in history from the College at Brockport, he found himself living in his parents’ Buffalo home, working the same $7.25-an-hour waiter job he had in high school.

It wasn’t that there weren’t other jobs out there. It’s that they all seemed to want more education. Even tutoring at a for-profit learning center or leading tours at a historic site required a master’s. “It’s pretty apparent that with the degree I have right now, there are not too many jobs I would want to commit to,” Mr. Klein says.

So this fall, he will sharpen his marketability at Rutgers’ new master’s program in Jewish studies (think teaching, museums and fund-raising in the Jewish community). Jewish studies may not be the first thing that comes to mind as being the road to career advancement, and Mr. Klein is not sure exactly where the degree will lead him (he’d like to work for the Central Intelligence Agency in the Middle East). But he is sure of this: he needs a master’s. Browse professional job listings and it’s “bachelor’s required, master’s preferred.”

Call it credential inflation. Once derided as the consolation prize for failing to finish a Ph.D. or just a way to kill time waiting out economic downturns, the master’s is now the fastest-growing degree. The number awarded, about 657,000 in 2009, has more than doubled since the 1980s, and the rate of increase has quickened substantially in the last couple of years, says Debra W. Stewart, president of the Council of Graduate Schools. Nearly 2 in 25 people age 25 and over have a master’s, about the same proportion that had a bachelor’s or higher in 1960.

“Several years ago it became very clear to us that master’s education was moving very rapidly to become the entry degree in many professions,” Dr. Stewart says. The sheen has come, in part, because the degrees are newly specific and utilitarian. These are not your general master’s in policy or administration. Even the M.B.A., observed one business school dean, “is kind of too broad in the current environment.” Now, you have the M.S. in supply chain management, and in managing mission-driven organizations. There’s an M.S. in skeletal and dental bioarchaeology, and an M.A. in learning and thinking.

The degree of the moment is the professional science master’s, or P.S.M., combining job-specific training with business skills. Where only a handful of programs existed a few years ago, there are now 239, with scores in development. Florida’s university system, for example, plans 28 by 2013, clustered in areas integral to the state’s economy, including simulation (yes, like Disney, but applied to fields like medicine and defense). And there could be many more, says Patricia J. Bishop, vice provost and dean of graduate studies at the University of Central Florida. “Who knows when we’ll be done?”

While many new master’s are in so-called STEM areas — science, technology, engineering and math — humanities departments, once allergic to applied degrees, are recognizing that not everyone is ivory tower-bound and are drafting credentials for résumé boosting.

“There is a trend toward thinking about professionalizing degrees,” acknowledges Carol B. Lynch, director of professional master’s programs at the Council of Graduate Schools. “At some point you need to get out of the library and out into the real world. If you are not giving people the skills to do that, we are not doing our job.”

This, she says, has led to master’s in public history (for work at a historical society or museum), in art (for managing galleries) and in music (for choir directors or the business side of music). Language departments are tweaking master’s degrees so graduates, with a portfolio of cultural knowledge and language skills, can land jobs with multinational companies.

Laura Pappano is author of “Inside School Turnarounds: Urgent Hopes, Unfolding Stories.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 28, 2011


An earlier version of this article misidentified the university that is revamping its master’s in public history. It is the University of Central Florida, not the University of South Florida.


A New York Times article on the ever-increasing importance of a Master’s Degree in today’s job market.