o'keefe
Georgia O'Keeffe, Cow's Skull-
Red, White and Blue
, 1931

What is an American Studies
interdisciplinary program?

American Studies is a field of concentration in the liberal arts relating to the United States as a geographical area and a cultural and political space. Drawing on courses from 12 departments, students learn to connect history, art, politics, religion, popular culture, literature and other features of American life. Students are encouraged to explore the diverse character of the American experience, shaped by gender, race, class, sexuality, geography and ethnicity, and to situate that experience in a context of global economic, cultural and political relations.

The American Studies major develops essentially the same skills as any other major in the Social Sciences and the Humanities, and therefore opens up similar career paths for life after Union. Recent graduates of the program have found positions in business, teaching and government service, and others have gone on to law school, M.B.A. programs, and M.A. and Ph.D. work in various disciplines, including history, literature, visual arts and American Studies.

The American Studies program offers an individualized program of study that allows each student to tailor course work to his or her own personal interests and needs.  Students may choose to pursue a major, interdisciplinary (ID) or minor. The current Academic Register lists more than 90 courses that can fulfill the American Studies requirements.

Students are asked to develop a coherent approach to the study of American culture, politics and society, past and present. They collaborate closely with their academic advisor to work out a thematic core around which to build a unique and innovative course of study that knits together the methods and perspectives of several disciplines. There is no single way to complete the major, minor or ID. Themes may be centered on a specific era (e.g., antebellum America or the United States since the Cold War) or topic (e.g., the emergence of mass culture or ethnicity and race in American life). 

Students are urged to meet with the program director as soon as they become interested in the program, preferably no later than the end of their sophomore year.