American Studies Degree | Humanities

An Interdisciplinary Program Envisioning a Stronger America

The American Studies degree is a special, dynamic interdisciplinary program designed to give students a critical understanding of American society and culture. Through select courses in American history, American literature, and political science (as well as other key courses such as Sociology of Social Problems, the History of Christianity in America, and Christianity and Media*), the American Studies major gains valuable theoretic and practical knowledge concerning how Americans think and act. Such preparation affords the major a wide variety of career and graduate school paths, ranging from politics and law to non-profit and advocacy work. Our interdisciplinary program’s overarching focus on urban ministries further enhances the student’s preparation along these lines as does our emphasis on becoming “Christian integrators” (see our main NGU brochure/website for details). Here, we take the popular notion of “community development” to the next step: that is, we link any attempt to improve society to the hope and healing found only in Christ.

Though some of the courses for the American Studies major are mandatory, there is still room for individualized focus. We also offer the opportunity for experiential learning through the “Best Semester Program” in Washington, D.C. as well as through the multiple city-based projects (based in Greenville and in Atlanta) already implemented within the IDS Program per se. In the latter case, we give our majors important practical experience in such things as community mapping and oral narrative, two strategies at the cutting edge of current attempts to identify our societal needs and cultural resources.

In general, American Studies majors at NGU acquire a skill set and habit of mind preparing them for work and/or graduate study in the following areas:

  • Law School (see below)
  • Public Policy and Government
  • Community Organizations
  • Urban Studies
  • Archival Research
  • Historic Preservation
  • FBI/CIA Agent
  • Graduate Studies in English, History, Political Science, or American Studies
  • Museums and Cultural Heritage
  • Teaching
  • Social Work and Community Development
  • Urban Ministries

In particular, American Studies at NGU meets, point by point, the American Bar Association’s guidelines for law school preparation, a fact that should be of interest even to those students not considering law as a career. The following chart (drawing from the ABA’s “Preparing for Law School” website) outlines how we meet these guidelines.

ABA Recommendation

American Studies Curriculum at NGU*

1. “Traditional preparation” in pre-law subjects (history, political science, English, philosophy) as well as a “broad range of difficult courses.”

 

1. Interdisciplinary course work in history, political science, English, and the introduction to philosophy, plus a sociology of social problems class, anthropology, communications classes in argumentation, media and society, etc.    

 

2.  “A broad understanding of American history and a fundamental understanding of the American political system.”

 

2. Expansive and rigorous course work in American history and political systems.

 

3.  “Writing Skills.”

 

3. Course work in English (as well as History etc.) which requires critical writing and a demonstrated competency in expository prose.

 

4. “Critical reading abilities.”

 

4.  Course work in English involving “close reading,” and in History involving critical analysis.

 

5.  Engagement in “critical thinking about important issues” which develops a tolerance for complexity.

 

5. Course work in History, English, Political Science, and Philosophy which engages the student in critical thinking about relevant, complex topics.

 

6. “The ability to speak clearly and persuasively” and “excellent listening skills.”

 

6.  An overarching emphasis in the Interdisciplinary Studies Program on orality and empathy, plus specific opportunities, in all upper division course work, for oral presentations.  The senior level “city work” involving oral narrative also is germane here.

 

7.   Experience in “undertaking a project that requires significant library research and the analysis of large amounts of information.”

 

7. A senior seminar project/portfolio as well as course work in historical research methodologies or advanced expository prose.

 

8. Obtaining the “values of serving faithfully the interests of others while also promoting justice.”

 

8. Service learning through the general Interdisciplinary Studies Program (including advocacy work in community development).

 

Research Links for American Studies Majors:

  • The “American Studies Association” website (WE BELONG TO THE ASA!)
  • “American Studies Links Recommended by Richard Horwitz,” Professor Emeritus of American Studies at the University of Iowa.
  • “The Smithsonian Institute” website.
  • “New Urban Research” website on “geocoding” and advocacy work.

Job and Internship Websites:

For more information concerning American Studies at North Greenville University, contact Dr. Gregory Bruce, Chair, Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, at gbruce@ngu.edu., or stop by 207 White Hall. Also see our general Interdisciplinary Studies web page at NGU.

* NOTE that, as we are currently expanding our program, a number of new courses are currently being considered.