More on American Studies

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American studies at Stetson University gives students the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of American culture and to develop a working appreciation of the relation of many liberal arts disciplines. A central part of our educational mission is to foster students' ability to assess American cultural values and to express their perspectives clearly and forcefully in person and on paper. Finding one's own voice begins with learning about the cultural debates of previous generations, and so the purposes of an American studies education intertwine as students both learn about diverse strands of the American experience and find their own place in relation to the American scene.

The structure of the major reflects these goals. A large portion of the major is flexible: students can develop an individualized curriculum that focuses on specific interests.

American studies provides a comprehensive means for you to explore and analyze American culture and society, past and present. The major draws on many parts of the university, emphasizing the connections among such varied fields as: history, literature, art, sociology, politics, religion, science and philosophy. This broad approach -- an extension of the liberal arts goals of the university in general -- enriches students' understanding of the United States as a whole.

With the United States as a case study and multiple fields as guides, American studies can also help students to understand the multifaceted world of modern times.

Because American culture is a point of fascination for many people around the world, there are active American studies organizations in almost every country. See the web page for the European Association for American Studies. Stetson University's American studies department is connected to this international network of scholars with its Stetson American Studies International (SASI) Program, which provides a study-abroad program from international students of American studies. Students of United States culture can come to Stetson University to take courses and learn about American culture from first-hand experience.

At Stetson University, American studies involves a combination of courses to introduce the field and to provide students with an overview of the American cultural landscape, as well as courses on a variety of special topics areas and personalized choices based on students' chosen themes. Classes are small (no more than 30 students in lower-division courses and fewer than 10 students in upper-division classes), with many opportunities for professors and students to interact. With the four-course concentration, students act on their interdisciplinary learning by integrating their course work in other departments as part of the American studies major. Examples include "Politics, Race, and Inequality," "Business and Society," and "Literature and the Arts." These focus areas are often the bases of students' senior research projects.

The American studies major is especially suited to students with a strong interest in American history and culture, to students with a broad liberal arts background, to students with a variety of interests who are looking for a home base for integrating their learning, and to students who anticipate working in fields that require a keen understanding of how Americans think and behave.