Motion Introduced by:  Curriculum and Academic Programs Committee

Date of First Reading:    February 1, 2021

Date of Second Reading: March 1, 2021

Title of Motion: Request from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences – School of Social Transformation - for the establishment of an undergraduate degree – BA in American Studies

Action Requested: This curricular proposal has received all college, school, unit and university administrative approvals, and is being presented to the Senate for review and voting decision.   

Rationale: The American Studies degree consists of interdisciplinary inquiries into the diverse cultures, global impact, social systems, and political thought of the United States. Established as a field since the 1930’s, American Studies spans the humanities, social sciences, as well as science and society. American Studies has undergone several changes since its inception and has evolved to include an understanding the diversity of U.S. society. American Studies explores the role of social movements seeking to achieve political, racial, gendered, legal, and economic change and includes how this resonates globally. ASU has a critical mass of American Studies faculty across the university.

Addendum for American Studies BA Curricular Proposal: As a point of clarification on the name and history of the field, I wanted to explain a little about the field and its presence at ASU. We must begin by acknowledging that American Studies is already established at ASU: an undergraduate certificate in American Studies in the School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies in the New College and a MA degree in the School of Social Transformation. Multiple faculty across all ASU campuses regularly attend the American Studies Association annual meeting, and some ASU faculty have served in leadership roles with the organization. Proposing a BA in the field would not only support our existing degrees at ASU, but also place us in dialogue with other universities who have long had an undergraduate degree in American Studies. There are over 350 American Studies program throughout the United States and around the world. Indeed, dialogues with American Studies programs in Germany and Armenia have already yielded great opportunities for ASU.

 American Studies formed in the 1930s as a way to explore the United States and its impact around the world. More recently, scholars within the field have engaged the questions of imperialism and the notion of “Our Americas” beyond the United States (Salvatore 2006; Gronbeck-Tedesco 2014; Gómez-Barris and Fiol-Matta 2014, Gronbeck-Tedesco 2014, McKee 2003). There is a distinction, however, and a consciousness to be inclusive yet respectful of the field of Latin American Studies in general. American Studies does engage in hemispheric conversations (Melgosa 2012) and explores interdisciplinary analysis of power and inequality perpetuated within and beyond the United States. Indeed, as an established field for nearly a century, various papers and journal series (American Quarterly is the flagship journal of the field) have dedicated in depth conversations toward exploring neoliberalism across the Americas (Davila 2014; Gómez-Barris and Fiol-Matta 2014). As the organization itself states, “We are researchers, teachers, students, writers, curators, community organizers, and activists from around the world committed to the study and teaching of U.S. history and culture from multiple perspectives.” In 1997, the president of the American Studies Association re-centered the field through critical explorations on race, ethnic studies, and inequality.  For nearly a quarter of a century now, the field of American Studies has been engrossed in conversations on race, settler colonialism, empire, sexuality, disability, and cultural differences within and beyond the United States. ASU’s student base, and its unique positioning in the U.S. Southwest, places us within the intersection of global and local approaches to the field.

Sujey Vega, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Women and Gender Studies
Faculty Lead, American Studies Barrett Honors College Faculty Advisor

Affiliate Faculty, School of Transborder Studies and School of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies



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