Stetson's American Studies program has a storied history, originating with the establishment of the Charles E. Merrill Department of American Studies in 1955, making it one of the first such programs in the country.
Our program's founders knew that, at any one time, we are living out the historical, literary, psychological, economic, political, religious, scientific and pop culture influences all around us. American Studies examines these influences on ourselves and society using many academic disciplines because, after all, life itself is interdisciplinary.
In a sense, you are already a student of American Studies. You are involved in the process of culture watching whether you live in or have visited the U.S., whenever you feel the influence of its variety of cultures, and whenever you shop, vote, travel, read or go to the movies. Your experiences can give you the confidence and insight to assess American cultural values and express your perspectives clearly in person and on paper.
Why American Studies at Stetson University?
American Studies is the program for you if you are intrigued by courses in many fields and find it difficult to decide which program to major in. As an interdisciplinary program, American Studies lets you explore a number of different fields as part of your major -- effectively you can major in the relation of many different fields rather than focusing on only one.
A unique feature of the American Studies program is the Focus Area, which enables you to shape over a third of your major or minor yourself. You will have the opportunity to focus on topics that interest you and explore connections across fields. With the Focus Area, you can enrich your study of the arts with courses in literature, music and photography, or to understand American politics, you can take courses in political science, sociology and history.
American Studies classes at Stetson 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.
Learn more about the Department of American Studies.
"Stetson took a chance on a kid from West Orlando, where violence ran rampant. … I had no idea that four years from that point, I would be standing here … as a graduate from Stetson University."
D’Angelo Brown ’22, Political Science and American Studies, currently with The Politics Company
How do Americans think? What have they done in the past, and what are U.S. citizens likely to do in the future? Understanding Americans, and the variety and interconnectedness of American cultures, serves as preparation for many jobs. Our majors and minors, with their engagement of numerous liberal arts subjects, benefit from this academic flexibility by being qualified for and open to many vocational possibilities. Employers like to see this well-rounded education because it encourages the ability to see connections and think creatively on the job.
In particular, American Studies majors have gone on to work in the State Department, libraries, art galleries, photography, museums, university teaching, university administration, high schools, city planning, scientific research, the travel industry, law, counseling, writing for magazines and websites, and the music business. The American Studies Association maintains a listing of job openings and opportunities.
Also, a degree in American Studies has traditionally been one of the paths to graduate education in law or public policy.
- Michael Barnes, PhD, University of South Carolina, English
- Paul J. Croce, PhD, Brown University, history
- Andy Dehnart, MFA, Bennington College, journalism
- Emily Mieras, PhD, College of William and Mary, history and American Studies
- Steven Smallpage, PhD, Michigan State University, political science
- Sven Smith, PhD, University of Florida, sociology
- John Tichenor, PhD, Florida State University, management
The American Studies Program offers a major and minor. Students use perspectives from many fields, including history, literature, sociology, anthropology, psychology, politics, religion, the arts, business and the natural sciences, to gain a comprehensive understanding of the varieties of American experiences and their relation to our increasingly complex and interconnected world.
The Focus Area of our program is a distinctive feature that allows students to design part of their own major by choosing an area of concentration with selection of courses from different disciplines that address American Studies topics. The Focus Area requires four courses from different disciplines that explore a common theme -- for example, culture and the arts, gender and popular culture, race and politics, or religion and values. Of the 11 courses required for the American Studies major, four of them are in the student self-defined Focus Area. By the end of the first semester of the junior year, each major presents the Program Chair with a written Focus Statement that includes a descriptive title, the list of four courses, and a detailed explanation (about one page) of the Focus Area's theme and the way the courses relate to each other.
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 Mini-Focus Area for minors requires two courses, and the same type of Focus Statement as the major. Of the five courses required for the American Studies minor, two of them are in the student self-defined Focus Area.
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