American Thought and Ideas

American Thought and Ideas


This major revolves around the theme of "American Ideas": the political, religious, and educational ideas that have shaped America and have propelled the American people throughout history. Although Gettysburg has strengths in the departments that conventionally comprise American Studies programs at other institutions, it does not have an American Studies program of its own. This major capitalizes on these existing strengths while also filling that void. For example, "Social Foundations of Education" introduces the common school created by Horace Mann with Protestant influence. This also led to Catholics creating their own parochial schools. "Religion in America" helps provide more back story on the rise of Protestant influence and why Catholics wanted to be separate from Protestants.

High school curricula tend to focus more on the broad narrative of America rather than on the individual ideas that are the center of this major. Furthermore, while college courses have focused on these ideas - democracy, religion, education, and the role they play together - they tend to do so from the disciplinary scope of their respective departments. History, for example, focuses on these ideas from a historical standpoint; English classes approach American life through literature; and so on. This major examines the subject matter from multiple viewpoints.

To mitigate the limitations of any one methodology, this major draws from four different departments and aligns itself with Gettysburg's mission statement to develop "a sense of the inter-relatedness of all knowledge." Choosing a major and a minor, or a double major would not allow for the interdisciplinary essentials to American Studies. Overall, this major reflects the qualities of Gettysburg's Mission Statement and will be a credit to the college.

Related Courses:
EDUC 209 Social Foundations of Education
EDUC 306 Teaching Social Studies
ENG 251 Survey of American Citizenship
ENG 355 Radical American Women
HIST 249 American Intellectual History
HIST 300 Historical Methods
HIST 342 Revolutionary America
POL 323 Religion and Politics in US
POL 381 American Political Ideas
REL 234 Religion in America
REL 274 Religion and Democracy in US
IDS 464 Individualized Study
Graduation year: 2014