American Studies Learning Outcomes – or –
What you get from an American Studies degree
General Arts and Letters/Humanities Learning Goals:
1. Critical Thinking—the close readings of texts, identifying key ideas, understanding assumptions on which they are based and the social situations to which they are linked. Also, the ability to challenge established textual notions and patterns of social experience, and reconsider them in light of alternate approaches and competing ideas.
2. Communication–writing and speaking well, including framing ideas and articulating them effectively. This also includes the development of critical ideas and creative insights nurtured by effective class discussion.
3. Informed and Creative Discussion–developing a learning community characterized by mutual respect and acceptance. Attentive listening, openness, and tolerance will promote the healthy exchange of ideas, observations, values, and experiences that inform and extend the topic at hand.
American Studies Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of the major, American Studies majors should be able to:
1. Identify major themes and issues prompted by the question: What does it mean to be an American?
2. Recognize the multiple ways Americans have expressed, institutionalized, celebrated, and contested identity.
3. Assess how struggles over American identity often cross disciplinary boundaries, simultaneously engaging visual and material culture, literature, history, politics, and popular culture.
4. Appreciate the cultural diversity of the American experience, especially in terms of of class, ethnicity, gender, and race.
5. Recognize how the concerns and approaches of American Studies relate to experiences outside the classroom such as service projects, study abroad, and summer internships.
6. Analyze in depth an aspect of American culture using interdisciplinary source materials, research methodologies, and intellectual approaches.
7. Reach independent conclusions based on that analysis, and communicate them effectively both on the page and in person.
In other words, we hope our majors learn to be curious, approach problems from multiple perspectives, and use interdisciplinary methods and ideas to critically examine the interworkings of American culture, society, and politics. We want you to think effectively, think outside the box, and think for yourselves.