American Studies: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Master Syllabus

What does it mean to be an American? The answer to this question often depends on issues such as class, gender, ethnicity, era, place of origin, and socialization. The liberally-educated person in the 21st century should have a critical understanding of the American experience from various academic perspectives; to better recognize the social, cultural, economic, political, geographic and technological interdependence of all persons in the United States.

Courses in this category provide a close look at the United States of America and its people through disciplines that draw on social, historical, political, and literary studies. Students should be able to identify major events, persons, ideas, and circumstances that contributed to the development of American attitudes and institutions. Students should then be better able to answer for themselves "What is America?" and "What does it mean to be an American?

The principal areas of study in this category will include Social Sciences in an American Context; American History, Geography, and Government; American Literary Texts and Contexts; American Social Concerns; American Cultural Issues.

Objectives

  • To identify the political, social, economic, and cultural forces that have produced a common U. S. heritage.
  • To identify major events, persons, ideas, and circumstances that contributed to the development of American attitudes and institutions.
  • To analyze concepts that give meaning and order to the primary sources and raw data of the past and present of the United States.
  • To identify and analyze significant problems and situations pertaining to the continuing issues of contemporary life.
  • To effectively navigate the various scholarly resources of American Studies.
  • To apply interdisciplinary strategies for defining and critiquing notions of U. S. identity and culture.

Goals

  • To improve understanding of significant events and issues that have influenced the development of the United States.
  • To better recognize the social, cultural, economic, political, geographic and technological interdependence of all persons in the United States.

General Learning Outcomes for the Student

In addition to the more content-related objectives described above, this course has some general liberal-learning goals of developing academic skills. It is expected that successful completion of this course will help you improve your ability:

  • To manage information, which involves sorting data, ranking data for significance, synthesizing facts, concepts and principles.
  • To understand and use organizing principles or key concepts against which miscellaneous data can be evaluated.
  • To differentiate between facts, opinions, and myths and how we use them.
  • To frame questions so as to better clarify a problem, topic, or issue.
  • To compare and contrast the relative merits of opposing arguments and interpretations, moving between the main points of each position.
  • To organize thoughts and communicate them clearly and concisely in written and/or oral form.

Guidelines for Course Requirements and Assessments

  • Substantial readings of primary and secondary sources applicable to the course.
  • Substantial research and writing is expected.
  • Multiple assessments (i.e., quizzes, exams, reports, presentations).