Student Life Archives (2001-2008)

Social Thought major merges with American Culture Studies

The Social Thought and Analysis degree program has a new home in American Culture Studies beginning this semester.

“We wanted to raise the profile of interdisciplinary teaching in the social sciences at Washington University,” said John Bowen, director of the Social Thought and Analysis (STA) program. “One initial step to this is to gather several tracks under one roof: American Culture Studies.”

The role of the Social Thought and Analysis (STA) major is now similar to American Culture Studies (AMCS) track programs, such as an immigration and ethnic studies track.

Bowen hopes that the larger program will allow its administrators to hire a more diverse faculty, thereby giving the students more academic options.

“It will allow better coordination and collaboration in the teaching of social sciences,” he said. “[We are] getting more people involved here and bringing in more people from the outside.”

Sophomore Michael Martinich-Sauter, a potential STA major, is looking forward to expanded options in the program.

“A greater selection of classes is definitely a plus,” said Martinich-Sauter. “There is more opportunity for breadth, more opportunity to pursue your interests and more flexibility.”

Wayne Fields, director of AMCS, sees this merger as a natural move that benefits both programs.

“We have had a very heavy overlapping interest for a long time,” said Fields. “We have always had a close relationship in terms of our commitments. Many of the Social Thought and Analysis courses are cross-listed with American Culture Studies. We have been looking to do this for quite a while.”

According to Fields, the move is an attempt to create a better-rounded academic environment.

“We try to combine these interests to expand the opportunities in terms of course offerings and the connections between courses,” Fields said. “The [merge] reaffirms a shared commitment to those aspects of culture studies and recognizes the opportunity to build further on that foundation.”

Fields added that the new arrangement will improve the AMCS curriculum, enabling the program to better confront current issues in American society.

“This bringing together of disciplines is to take on important issues like those facing American cities,” said Fields. “We learned how pertinent it is to be offering a range of courses that we can draw on when we are trying to understand what holds us together and threatens to break us apart.”

Senior Jonathan Lane, an STA major, echoed Bowen and Field’s comments, as he saw the merger as another stage in the development of the University’s social sciences program.

“It is important for people to recognize that this is another step in a long evolution,” said Lane. “STA’s focus on researching skills is something that is really important and [that is] often overlooked in the social sciences. It is a good thing for more students to be exposed to that.”

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