KU campus arial

Why Choose American Studies?

What exactly is “America”? America as we’ve known it is changing. The nation is experiencing greater racial and ethnic diversity. Concerns about the environment, food and poverty, and sustainability are being addressed, and solutions sought. The public is demanding greater equality for all, regardless of sexual preference or socioeconomic status. American culture is becoming increasingly diverse and its population more transnational. What are the meanings and boundaries of American citizenship? Who is “American” and who determines this?
student sits at table studying
The Department of American Studies at KU engages you in these discussions to equip you with a broad understanding of history, society and culture so that you can intelligently participate in the complex issues of the present day. Why choose American Studies? Because America is changing and you have an important part to play in our global future.
student in cap and gown looks at bell tower

Learn about the Department

Established in 1953, American Studies at the University of Kansas is an interdisciplinary department whose faculty and students think critically about community, identity, and social justice in American culture, politics, and society. We study the multiple and contested meanings of “American” both nationally and transnationally, in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, class, region, age, and sexuality. To prepare students to engage a diverse and globalized society, we must learn from and about communities who have been too often marginalized in society and in the academy.

Such an inclusive definition of “American” requires an equally capacious understanding of scholarship. Recognizing the critical impact of difference and power on the formation of traditional scholastic disciplines, American Studies embraces research methods that combine, cross, and stretch conventional academic boundaries. We encourage scholars to advance civic discourse at the local, national, and global levels. Through rigorous analysis of historical and current events, encompassing official institutions, social and religious movements, popular and media culture, and other areas, we illuminate the complex formations of American community and identity, both within and beyond US borders.

American Studies produces undergraduate and graduate students who are global citizens and understand the meanings of America and its populations, its cultural and social history and diversities, and its dynamic place among other nation-states. Our undergraduate majors and minors develop practical and intellectual skills that support their careers in a range of public sector and private sector areas such as public humanities, advocacy and non-profit organizations, marketing and human resources, education, mediation, social services, and the law.  Our graduate students go on to varied and successful careers as university faculty members and administrators, as well as staff members and directors of non-profit organizations such as museums and historical societies.

The following resources, not sponsored by the Department, may prove useful to students and faculty seeking to learn more about the field of American Studies.