Study of Culture and Society

PROGRAM OVERVIEW The Study of Culture and Society (SCS) is an interdisciplinary major focusing on the study of cultural practices, social institutions, and knowledge. The major focuses on the most current cultural theories and research strategies, with the richness afforded by an interdisciplinary approach. The major draws on the diverse range of disciplines already represented in department faculty, including sociology, anthropology, American Studies, rhetoric, cultural geography, German cultural studies, and women’s studies. The major focuses on contemporary critical social and cultural theories, as well as modes of cultural research and criticism, including textual and discourse analysis, ethnography, interviewing, media critique, and other practices. The orientation of the major is reflexive, and places strong emphasis on students developing a sense of themselves as knowers.  Courses in the major stress the recognition of the contested and changing character of cultural categories, the relationship between knowledge and power, and the influence of social location and identity on the creation of knowledge.

The student learning outcomes for the new major are:

  • Students will develop a deepened and critical appreciation of how knowledge about culture and society is created and used, including recognition of differing claims to knowledge from competing disciplinary and socio-cultural perspectives.
  • Students will become proficient in practices of cultural research, criticism, and analysis, and will develop a sensitivity to their role as “situated knowers” in the production of cultural knowledge, gaining awareness of the ethical implications of how knowledge is used and its effects in social, historical, ideological and global contexts.
  • Students will develop an understanding of cultural diversity, including social and historical complexities of racial, ethnic, national and postcolonial identities, categories, and experiences.
  • Students will develop a facility in the analysis of public culture and discourse, and gain the ability to act on behalf of specific principles and policies that can sustain or improve actual democratic practices.
  • Students will gain theoretical perspectives to analyze the diversity of gender and sexual identities and relations, as well as conceptual tools to study the relationships among gender, sexuality and power.

DEGREE OPTIONS Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in the study of culture and society.

PROGRAM SIZE Average class size is 25 students, although less in courses beyond the introductory level.

FACULTY There are 11 full-time faculty representing a range of disciplines including sociology, anthropology, American Studies, rhetoric, cultural geography, German cultural studies, film studies, and women’s studies. Faculty serve as academic advisers for majors and open-enrolled students. The faculty have notable accomplishments, including various awards for teaching and recognition for their scholarship and service. They are active professionally, publish regularly, and are involved in other national and local community organizations.

ACADEMIC PREPARATION While no special high school courses are required, an interest and curiosity about culture and society and how to study them is an important quality in students considering this major.

REQUIREMENTS FOR MAJOR The major requires a minimum of 37 credit hours, to include 1) An entry-level course; 2) Two core courses (no transfer hours): SCS 110 “Culture, Knowledge, Power” and SCS 120, “Modes of Cultural Inquiry,” 3) Six area courses, including two courses in each of three topic areas:  Cultural Difference and Diversity, Public Culture, and Gender and Sexuality; 4) An additional two courses in one area; and 5) Senior Capstone Experience (one linked 3-hour course and a 1-hour project for 4 credit hours; no transfer hours permitted).

DRAKE CURRICULUM The Drake Curriculum, required of all undergraduates, is designed to help students meet personal and professional goals as they acquire fundamental knowledge and abilities in ten Areas of Inquiry, including communication, critical thinking, artistic experience, historical consciousness, information and technology literacy, international and multicultural experiences, scientific and quantitative literacy, values and ethics and engaged citizenship. Students work closely with their academic advisers to craft a program of study in general education that prepares students for civic and professional leadership.

The Drake Curriculum also requires first-year seminars, which foster development of critical thinking and written and oral communication skills through a topical focus; and a Senior Capstone, in which students demonstrate the capacity to bring information, skills and ideas to bear on one project.

INTERNSHIPS & OPPORTUNITIES SCS majors who have performed well in a sufficient number of courses in the interdisciplinary study of culture and society have opportunities to obtain credit for an internship experience. Assistance is provided to students in obtaining internships in private and public agencies related to career and academic goals. Through the internship, students have the opportunity to bring their academic understanding to focus in the world outside the University.

CAREER OPTIONS The SCS major provides preparation for jobs or professional training in community social services, social and public policy, government, research, law, journalism, or social work. The major is also excellent preparation for advanced graduate study in a range of fields in the social sciences and humanities. SCS can be a particularly good major to pair with other majors such as journalism, politics, or psychology.


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