General Education Program and Elective Courses
Golfing in Swansea, Wales
Many study abroad locations will offer coursework that will count towards the General Education Program requirements of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In addition to the language requirement, it is relatively common for students to complete the following Gen Eds abroad: Humanities, Social Sciences, Historical Perspectives, Foreign Civilization & Culture, and Fine Arts.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences requires that all majors acquire either fourth-semester competency or the departmental equivalent in a foreign language. If you need to complete your foreign lan guage requirement, you could consider studying abroad to immerse yourself in a language and complete this requirement in as little as one semester.
Taking elective courses abroad is exciting because you have the chance to explore a topic you could never study in the U.S. The Study Abroad office approves GEP courses, so please talk to your advisor.
American Studies Major and Requirements
The major normally consists of 36 s.h. of coursework or 12 courses. By the student’s second term in the major, the student and academic advisor should have agreed upon a plan of study for completing major requirements. There are three designated focus areas that American Studies students can choose from, or they are free to individually design their own interdisciplinary focus area in consultation with their academic advisor.
Requirements for all students pursuing the major are as follows:
Six courses in American Studies (18 s.h.):
- Three required courses (may be taken abroad if approved in advance by an American Studies advisor)
- 45:030 Sources in American Studies
- 45:025 Diversity and American Identities
- 45:090 Seminar in American Cultural Studies
- Plus three additional American Studies courses.
Two courses in American History (6 s.h.)
Four courses in one focus area (12 s.h.)
Each focus area allows you to group courses in American Studies and other departments around a specific interdisciplinary theme, topic, or set of social issues. For a list of currently applicable courses for each focus area, contact your advisor.
In the “Ethnic Studies, Diversity and Differences” focus area, you consider how social difference along the lines of gender, race, sexuality, social class, region, national origins, and age, for example, shape institutions and cultural practices in the U.S. Emphasis is on the historic emergence of categories of social difference, and their interactions, especially as revealed in cultural practices and artifacts, geography and cityscapes, leisure, and popular expression.
In the “American Arts, Literature, and Popular Culture” focus area, you examine artistic creations to discover how they are shaped by cultural preconceptions, norms, and standards, and how in turn these expressive forms affect ongoing developments in cultural life. This concentration emphasizes skills in the formal analysis of artistic artifacts, historical inquiry, and cultural contextualization.
In the “American Society, Politics, and Everyday Life” focus area, you look at the dynamics of social change, the emergence and fate of political movements, and the forms and practice of everyday life in America. The area encompasses the tradition of revolution in America, the effects of technological and economic change, and the roles of the family, workplace, and community from the colonial era to the digital age.
In the "The Politics of Nature: Environment, Sustainability, and Landscape" focus area, you explore how Americans (from pre-Columbian times to the present) have shaped and regarded the natural environment. Topics might include the perception of “wilderness” in early America; the relationship of Native-American peoples to the land; the impact of industrialization and urban growth on the environment; the emergence of a cult of nature (from early environmental writing and landscape painting to the founding of national parks and rise of outdoor recreation); the treatment and representation of animals (from working animals and domesticated pets to museum displays and theme park attractions); the mass production, distribution, and consumption of food; and the growing movement for “sustainability” in agriculture, architecture, urban planning, and individual lifestyles.
In the "Sport and Popular Amusements" focus area, you examine the various sports, recreational activities, and popular amusements enjoyed in the United States from the from the colonial and early American period to the present. Topics might include world’s fairs and expositions; circuses and amusement parks; the movies; vacations; and the popularization of professional, spectator sports. Particular attention will be paid to the relationship between work and play; the role of technology and the media; the commercialization of sport; and the politics of gender, race, class, sexuality, and disability.
You may alternatively design your own interdisciplinary focus area in consultation with your American Studies advisor. An individually-designed focus area may concentrate on an interdisciplinary topic, theme, group of people, or time period.
Honors students may also receive credit toward the major for preparation of a senior honor’s thesis in American Studies.
At least 24 semester hours of the major must be earned at the University of Iowa, unless special approval for an exception is granted in writing in advance of study abroad by the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the American Studies Department.
Please see the American Studies website for more information.