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USA Today, Tomorrow and Beyond

American studies program mixes culture, history, politics and more

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Looking for a way to enhance your resume while thinking critically about the United States? A minor in American studies could be for you. 

And, Bridgewater State University students may have already met some of the requirements for the program without even knowing it.

“American studies is a very interdisciplinary program and minor,” said Dr. Simone Poliandri, an associate anthropology professor and the program’s new coordinator. “You don’t have to bend to fit the minor and program. The minor and program will bend to fit you and your studies.”

Matthew Donovan-Scott, ’19, knows about that flexibility first hand. Matthew, an English major from Halifax whose minors include American studies, is interested in how our culture affects politics and vice versa. But, that’s just one way someone could complete the minor.

“There are a lot of things that make up what is America,” he said.

Along the way to that American studies minor you might learn something about yourself.

“Learning about your own culture can help you analyze what forces influence you and the world around you,” Matthew said.  

Poliandri, who succeeds English Associate Professor Dr. Heidi Bean as the program’s coordinator, is planning to introduce a theme each year with related events. This year’s focus is diversity and immigrant lives in the United States, a topic Poliandri said is timely and sensitive.

The program recently hosted “American Lives Today,” which brought together ethnically diverse speakers from BSU and elsewhere to discuss what it means to be American today.

Poliandri hopes to host a similar event in the spring to continue connecting the university and the outside world, and taking students beyond simply reading about diversity. 

The program also hosts an annual internship fair.

Meanwhile, the minor incorporates courses in anthropology, history, political science, criminal justice, music, and many other disciplines. It gives students a broad understanding of American society and culture, preparing them for careers in the law, government, human resources and other fields.

“Students can use it to complement what they already are doing for their major and career goals,” Poliandri said. “American studies is a feather in the cap for resumes and careers.”

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