What Students Can Learn From American Studies

Using the insights of many academic fields, students in American Studies investigate the diverse experiences, values, and cultural traditions that have made the United States what it is today. Courses explore questions that have intrigued foreign visitors and Americans, past and present: What are the origins of American politics, morals, business systems, and perceptions of themselves and each other? What goals and beliefs unite the different peoples who call themselves "American"? How are individual American lives shaped by race, ethnicity, class, and gender? Students use insights from history and literature, as well as sociology, psychology, politics, business, education, religion, art, music, and the natural sciences to gain a comprehensive understanding of the many brands of American experience that have shaped our increasingly complex world. Because of the many fields of study involved, students prepare for the uncertainties of the future by learning to think flexibly and to make connections among the many facets of cultural life.

The department faculty participates in cross-disciplinary work on campus, including the Africana Studies Program, the Environmental Studies Program, the Honors Program, the Journalism Minor, the Urban Studies Program, and the Women and Gender Studies Program, providing students with a multitude of resources for integrating their learning. Students who study abroad or in other programs, such as the Washington Semester, may use those credits toward the major or minor. The department also actively encourages students to link their academic work with practical experience in internships, on and off campus (for example, the department offers a grant for student research in science and religion and a series of internships in businesses and community organizations). The major and minor in American Studies provide the foundations for careers in law, education, government service, the non-profit sector, the ministry, communications media, and business, and work in this department has prepared students for professional school and graduate training in many disciplines.