American Studies


The concentration in American Studies seeks to understand American society and cultures as emerging from historical and contemporary processes at work in local, national, and global contexts. Concentrators study four broad themes: social structure and the practices of identity, space and place, production and consumption of culture, and science, technology, and everyday life. The concentration is predicated on the ideal of scholarly engagement with the public, so students take junior seminars that engage some aspect of the public humanities such as public policy, memorialization, community studies or civic engagement. Study abroad is supported and encouraged.

Interested students may contact Professor Haviland, the director of undergraduate studies.

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Student Goals

Students in this concentration will:

  • Analyze texts, contexts, and data from multiple disciplinary and historical perspectives
  • Synthesize research as verbal, visual and/or digital presentations
  • Explore the theory and/or practice of the engagement of scholarship with a broader public
  • Understand how American society and cultures have been and are being shaped by global flows of people, goods and ideas
  • Experiment with new media as critical tools for scholarship


Click here for a list of requirements. 

Honors and Capstones

View Honors website

All concentrators demonstrate their achievements by the work compiled in the ePortfolio and presented publicly during the reading period of their last semester. At least one of the required four upper-level seminars is taken in the senior year as part of the capstone experience. Other required elements are research papers and public projects as described on the department page on “Capstone ePortfolio.” The compilation of the online eportfolio is advised and monitored by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Students who wish to write a senior thesis based on original research may be considered for the Honors Program. Prospective thesis writers should take the Honors Seminar and arrange to enroll in a directed reading course with a faculty member during the second semester of the junior year in order to define a topic and research question and complete a thesis prospectus. In each semester of the senior year, students register for an independent study course under the supervision of the thesis advisor. Please visit the department website for more information on the Honors and online portfolio requirements.

Liberal Learning

This concentration allows you to address the following Liberal Learning goals:

  • Work on your speaking and writing
  • Understand differences among cultures
  • Evaluate human behavior
  • Learn what it means to study the past
  • Expand your reading skills
  • Enhance your aesthetic sensibility
  • Embrace diversity
  • Collaborate fully
  • Engage with your community

Download the full statement on Liberal Learning at Brown

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Affiliated Departments


Director of Undergraduate Studies

Graduating Class

Year Total Capstone Honors
201213 13 
201316 16 
201415 15 
201613 13 

Alumni Pathways

Graduates with an A.B. in American Studies are working in journalism, publishing, business, education, community arts, union organizing, and social welfare organizations, as well as graduate study in every field in the social sciences and humanities. Check out American Studies' Facebook page!

See more details on the CareerLAB website.

If you are an advisor and would like to make changes to the information on this page, contact, or email Dean Besenia Rodriguez.