American Studies & California Studies

American Studies

American Studies is an interdisciplinary approach to the study of American culture and society that draws upon courses from departments and programs in the humanities and social sciences. American Studies majors are prepared for a number of different career paths that value interdisciplinary knowledge, critical and creative thinking, and writing skills.

American Studies Mission Statement

The purpose of the American Studies major and minor is to study the unity and diversity, the consensus and conflict, the continuity and change, that characterize the many cultures and social structures of past and present United States. Building on a core that introduces major disciplinary perspectives in American Studies, students draw upon courses from throughout the University to create an elective program that will both further an understanding of the United States as a whole and allow them to pursue their specific areas of interests.

Program Learning Outcomes:

Upon completing the American Studies major, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of and facility with research methods and analytical skills from several disciplines, including history, geography, humanities, and cultural studies;
  • Integrate disciplinary methods and perspectives to explore significant questions about American society, culture, and history;
  • Articulate the relationships between regional, ethnic, racial, or subcultural  histories, peoples, experiences or conditions and larger, national narratives, events and trends.

Note: The core requirements of the American Studies major and minor changed in Spring 2018. Those who declared the major/minor before then can use either the old or the new program requirements.

Requirements for the Minor in American Studies (18 units) (Beginning Fall 2018)

Core (12 units)

  • AMST 200 Introduction to American Studies
  • AMST 300GW Junior Seminar in American Studies
  • Choose one: AMST 310/HUM 485 Arts and American Culture or HUM 490 American Images
  • AMST 410/HUM 450 California Culture

Electives (6 units)

Students choose 6 additional units that focus on a topic or question developed by the student on advisement with the American Studies coordinator. Courses must be upper division and drawn from at least two different disciplines. 

Requirements for the B.A. in American Studies (39 units) (Beginning Fall 2018)

Core (15 units)

  • AMST 200 Introduction to American Studies
  • AMST 300 GW Junior Seminar in American Studies*
  • Choose one: AMST 310/HUM 485 Arts and American Culture or HUM 490 American Images
  • Choose one: AMST 400/GEOG 551 American Regional Cultures; GEOG 455 Geography of Ethnic Communities; GEOG 550 Geography of the U.S and Canada; GEOG 552 Geography of California
  • AMST 410/HUM 450 California Culture

Electives (24 units)

Students choose 24 additional units (8 courses) that focus on a topic or question developed by the student on advisement with the American Studies coordinator. Courses must be drawn from at least two different disciplines, and only up to 6 units (2 courses) can be lower division. Students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher are encouraged to write a senior thesis in their final semester, signing up for 3 units of Independent Study (699), which will count as an elective. *Students who declared the major prior to Spring 2018 may take HUM 300GW, ETHS 300GW, or HIST 300GW instead of AMST 300GW.

California Studies

California Studies prepares students for regional and local application of their major fields of study to the immediate world in which they live, the state of California. A foundation in California Studies is beneficial to those pursuing teaching credentials and careers in business, public policy, public administration, state government and public history. 

California Studies Mission Statement

The Minor in California Studies prepares students for regional and local application of their major fields of study to the immediate world in which they live, the state of California. A foundation in California studies is beneficial to those pursuing teaching credentials and careers in business, public policy, public administration, state government, and public history. The minor is also excellent preparation for those pursuing advanced degrees in the social sciences, humanities, earth sciences, or arts.

Program Learning Outcomes

Each student should emerge from the minor with a grasp of California history and political processes, a knowledge and appreciation of the rich diversity of California cultures, creative arts, and literatures, an informed view of California's environmental richness and ecological relationships, and a continuing interest in the dynamic California landscape.

General Requirements for the California Studies Minor (21 units)

Courses are 3 units unless otherwise indicated.

Core Requirement (3 units)

  • HIST 450 History of California

California Artistic and Cultural Landscapes (3 units)

Choose one of the following:

  • HUM 376 Biography of a City: San Francisco
  • HUM 375 Biography of a City: Los Angeles [topic course]
  • HUM 450/AMST 410 California Culture
  • HTM 421 California Food, Wine and Culture

California Social and Ethnic Landscapes (3 units)

Choose one the following:

  • AFRS 312 Kalifia: The Black Heritage of California
  • AIS 410 Perspectives of Native California Indians
  • ANTH 356 Archaeology of California
  • AA S 510 Asian Americans in California
  • PLSI 473 California Politics and Government (4)
  • PLSI 475 San Francisco Political Issues (4)
  • LTNS 315 Latina/os in California
  • LTNS 660 Latina/o Politics

California Environmental Landscapes (3 units)

Choose one of the following:

  • BIOL 300 Nature Study
  • ERTH 320 Geology of California
  • ERTH 325 Geology of the National Parks
  • ERTH 360 California Weather Events
  • GEOG 552 Geography of California
  • GEOG 651 San Francisco Bay Area Environmental Issues

Electives (9 units)

Select 9 additional units from at least two of the above categories.

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