The American Studies concentration is one of the oldest interdisciplinary programs at Oakland University. It provides both a broad understanding of the American experience and an introduction to the practice of focused interdisciplinary study. The concentration is taken in addition to a departmental major. By electing departmental courses with an American focus in two or three areas outside the major and framing the concentration with two interdisciplinary American studies courses, students may expect to gain a coherent sense of the national experience and appreciate the various contributions of different academic disciplines.
The American Studies concentration may be the best kept secret in the College of Arts and Sciences. Aside from exciting classes on a variety of topics in U.S. history, literature, politics, and more, all offered by talented faculty, American Studies lets you create your own course of study while expanding upon the knowledge gained in your major area of study. Your concentration will culminate in a senior project (AMS 401) of your own devising— which may be a traditional paper, a creative project, or even an appropriate internship. Still not sure? Then consider the fact that chances are you're already well on your way to fulfilling the requirements of the concentration. So the real question is: why NOT concentrate?
What will I learn?
In addition to learning about the richness of the American experience, students of American studies develop invaluable skills in critical thinking, written and oral communication, and problem solving. Because American Studies by definition draws on a range of fields and their diverse methodologies, it will teach you to approach problems and ask questions from multiple perspectives. By going outside the confines of the perspectives and methodologies associated with a single discipline, students of American Studies get to experience the kind of independence and fearlessness that comes with interdisciplinary problem-solving, synthesis, and trail-blazing. It truly demands an independent spirit, mind, and courage.
What’s it good for?
You name it! Most American Studies concentrators do not become professional scholars of American Studies themselves—though some do. Instead, the broad training and intellectual development students receive in the concentration prepares them well for careers in law, government, journalism, advertising, politics, work in the non-profit sector, entertainment fields, and much more. Intellectual independence, inquisitiveness, creative thinking, the ability to conduct research, and to communicate effectively are increasingly important to prospective employers. Of course, American Studies is also excellent preparation for graduate study in any of American Studies’ related disciplines.