Liberal Arts & Applied Studies (LAAS)

Helping People Enrich Their Life and Their Work

Who We Are | Our Learners | Our Programs | Certificates | Conferences | Community Partnerships & Outreach | Faculty & Staff

Who We Are

As part of the UW-Madison Division of Continuing Studies, the Department of Liberal Arts and Applied Studies contributes to Lifelong Learning 2020 by: providing education to adult learners; conducting outreach on issues of societal importance; and undertaking scholarship on teaching and learning related to professional development and lifelong learning.

Our Learners

decorative elementOur learners seek noncredit classes for professional development and personal enrichment. We work with adults who:

  • Require professional education to stay current in their fields
  • Seek courses for personal enjoyment such as language, music, creative writing, visual arts, dance, history, educational travel, and other areas
  • Attend courses on the UW-Madison campus
  • Participate in online courses
  • Hold a college or professional degree or degrees
  • Are enrolled in their first college-affiliated course

Learning Styles Research Brief (PDF»)

Our Programs

decorative elementOur instructors teach credit and noncredit courses in:

View all our noncredit classes here»

Some of our faculty and instructional staff also teach credit courses in other academic departments at UW-Madison.

Our approach is deeply personal. Our faculty and staff work with students to help determine the best fit for their individual learning needs.


decorative elementTaught by leading educators, clinicians, and subject-matter experts from UW-Madison and around the world, these interactive and engaging programs support professional development in a wide range of topics, such as:

View all our certificates here»


decorative elementIn addition to our classes, each year we host conferences that bring together thousands of people to learn from experts in fields ranging from distance education to leadership to creative writing and more. Together, we share best practices and challenges, and network with peers.

Some of our more popular conferences include:

View all of our conferences here»

Community Partnerships & Outreach

decorative elementWe partner with organizations on the UW-Madison campus and in the community to address critical issues of societal importance and help adults thrive in their personal or professional life. Much of this work is funded through grants and donations.

Faculty & Staff

Our more than 60 faculty and staff members offer extensive expertise in adult teaching and learning and other academic disciplines, which helps learners meet their personal and professional goals. Our faculty and program area directors are listed below. To see the complete directory of faculty and staff in the Division of Continuing Studies, visit us here»


profile pictureEmily K. AUERBACH
Professor of English/Director, Odyssey Project
Phone: (608) 262-3733; email:

profile pictureNarra S. COX
Department Chair/Professor
Phone: (608) 262-2730, 800-442-4617; email:

profile pictureSamedi (Sage) GOELLNER
Assistant Professor, Languages/Humanities
Phone: (608) 262-4873; email:

profile pictureMatthew T. HORA
Assistant Professor
Phone: (608) 265-5629; email:

Program Area Directors

profile pictureChristopher CHAMBERS
Program Area Director, Writing
Phone: 608-262-5095; email:

profile pictureWendy FRITZ
Program Area Director, Distance Education Professional Development
Phone: 608-265-2679; email:

profile pictureKristi L. OBMASCHER
Behavioral Health Area Manager, Behavioral Health
Phone: (608) 262-8971; email:

profile pictureRobert TOOMEY
Outreach Program Manager II, Leadership, Management & Other Workplace Skills
Phone: 608-262-2576; email:

Department Administrator

profile pictureAndy RICHARDSON
Department Administrator
Phone: (608) 262-0557; email: