Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia

Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia

Full Program Proposal

Institution: Kennesaw State University Date: September 2008

School/Division: College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Name of Proposed Program: Master of Arts in American Studies

Degree: M.A. Major: American Studies CIP Code: 05.0102

Proposed Starting Date: August 2009


Dean of Graduate Studies, Teresa Joyce:

LeeAnn Lands

Sarah R. Robbins

Dean Richard Vengroff,

Table of Contents


Starting Page

Program Description and Objectives: 2-page summary


Justification and Need for Program


Procedures used to Develop Program




Inventory of Faculty Directly Involved


Outstanding Programs of this Nature in Other Institutions


Inventory of Pertinent Library Resources


Student Qualifications










Affirmative Action Impact


Degree Inscription


Fiscal and Enrollment Impact and Estimated Budget






Appendix #

Changing Demographics in Northwest Georgia


Chronology of Program Development in American Studies--KSU


Potential Internship Sites


Draft Guidelines for Capstones


Draft Administrative Calendar


Inventory of CVs for Program Faculty


Library Holdings in American Studies


Draft Exit Survey for Program Assessment


1. Program Description and Objectives: Proposed M.A. in American Studies

Objectives of the Program and Needs the Program Will Meet:

The American Studies M. A. at Kennesaw State is envisioned as an interdisciplinary program closely aligned to the mission of the university and the needs of area communities. Three key objectives addressed by this program are enhancing interdisciplinarity, building global learning and associated inter-cultural skills, and promoting civic engagement.

Interdisciplinary studies combine methodological rigor with contemporary relevance. Michael Finkenthal ‘s Interdisciplinarity: Toward the Definition of a Metadiscipline? (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2001) documents a continuing trend away from disciplinarity and toward integrative thinking across disciplines. Degree programs that foster such cross-disciplinary thought not only advance learning connections for students, but also help build bridges across traditional academic fields, thereby helping to prepare students for leadership in the workplace and civic life. This proposed program answers such needs with a curriculum that blends historical and place-based study with analysis of cultural products, and that requires students to apply their learning in their personal and professional communities. Both KSU and the University System of Georgia have identified promoting interdisciplinarity as a strategic goal.

Another key goal of the American Studies program at Kennesaw State University is to generate sophisticated understanding of the meaning and place of America in a global, transnational context. Graduates will be able to analyze social practices within, across and among diverse, globally oriented American cultures and will have a pragmatic understanding of the relations shaping contemporary society, history, and social products influenced by American culture. Additionally, students will develop strategies and learn skills for active engagement with their local, regional, and national communities. They will be able to apply their understanding of key issues in American Studies to a variety of professional contexts, ranging from business to educational, governmental, and informal social communities.

In regard to civic engagement, the proposed American Studies program is particularly well aligned with the mission of the university, especially its emphasis on enhancing professionalism among graduates and providing public service. Like KSU, the AMSTYLE="program is committed to honoring local diversity and inclusion while fostering global and inter-cultural understanding.

Delivery of the Program and Faculty:

The M.A. in American Studies at KSU will be administered in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Building upon such successful on-campus models such as the Professional Teacher Education Unit (PTEU), the program will draw faculty from multiple departments within the CHSS and across the university. The program will be led administratively by a Director reporting to an HSS Associate Dean. Curriculum will be managed by a committee of tenured and tenure-track teaching faculty who have already formally affiliated with the program and been actively planning its content.

Curriculum Overview:

Preparation of the Curriculum

In researching the need for this program in Georgia, faculty involved in the planning have consulted with leaders from the American Studies Association and from other US-based and international universities offering graduate work in American Studies. For example, faculty proposing the program have gathered data about program missions and delivery models at the following institutions: Pennsylvania State University-Harrisburg, University of Southern Maine, University of Massachusetts, Boston, the University of Wyoming and the University of Minnesota. In addition, faculty proposing this program have carefully aligned its content and assessment plans with Kennesaw State University’s new strategic plan and its Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) on global learning for engaged citizenship.

Content of the Curriculum

The American Studies M.A. consists of 36 credit hours and a foreign language requirement, as follows:

3 credits AMSTYLE="7000 American Studies Scholarship, including a review of the major topics that have become central to American Studies as a field and the most significant scholarship that has defined and shaped those issues.

3 credits AMSTYLE="7100 American Studies Methods, including major approaches for doing work in American Studies in both academic and non-academic settings.

12 credits a sequence of AMSTYLE="courses selected to address the professional goals of the student, with at least one course from each of three thematic and methodology-based clusters, as outlined below:

Historical Studies—Choose one from this cluster.

AMSTYLE="7200 U.S. Social Movements

AMSTYLE="7210 Historical Period

AMSTYLE="7220 Passages to America

AMSTYLE="7230 Public History and Culture

Place-based Studies—Choose one from this cluster.

AMSTYLE="7300 American Cities, Suburbs and Countryside

AMSTYLE="7310 Regional Studies

AMSTYLE="7320 America in Transnational Context

Cultural Production—Choose one from this cluster.

AMSTYLE="7400 The Film Industry in American Culture

AMSTYLE="7410 Literature and Performance in American Culture

AMSTYLE="7420 Popular Culture in America

AMSTYLE="7430 Identities and Social Groups

AMSTYLE="7440 Enterprise and Labor in American Culture

3 credits: Experiential Learning Requirement--AMSTYLE="7500 Practicum (Internship or individualized Project-Based Learning) or SA 8890 (Study Abroad)

9 credits non-AMSTYLE="electives or additional AMSTYLE="courses as approved by the Program Director or advisor (may include up to 6 credits of graduate-level language courses); at least one course outside American Studies

6 credits AMSTYLE="7900 Capstone Experience

Language requirement: may be met by a proficiency test administered by the department of foreign languages, coursework to FL2002 at the undergraduate level with a grade of C or better, graduate level coursework indicating language proficiency, or equivalent (e.g., study abroad program with a language competency component) as approved by program coordinator.

Students Targeted for Enrollment and Anticipated Impact on Diversity:

Enrollment will target four groups: 1) professionals and volunteers working in local cultural sites such as museums, humanities societies, national parks, and public history venues; 2) professionals working in non-profits and corporate settings whose programs interact with diverse audiences within the US and abroad; 3) secondary schoolteachers who wish to focus graduate work in the humanities more than in pedagogy courses; 4) international students interested in studying American cultures.

These target groups for enrollment are consistent with the description of membership in the American Studies Association (ASA), the primary professional organization in the field. The ASA describes its membership as follows: “Chartered in 1951, the American Studies Association now has more than 5,000 members. . . . They include persons concerned with American culture: teachers and other professionals whose interests extend beyond their [discipline-based] specialty, . . . museum directors and librarians interested in all segments of American life, public officials and administrators concerned with the broadest aspects of education. They approach American culture from many directions but have in common the desire to view America as a whole rather from the perspective of a single discipline.”

Bringing students from the four target groups together will have a highly positive impact on the diversity-building goals at Kennesaw State University. For example, in a classroom that purposefully includes international students, professionals from educational and business settings within the US will develop enhanced skills for succeeding in the increasingly diverse workplace settings of northwest Georgia.

Further, the content of American Studies as a field has traditionally appealed to under-represented groups of students from within the US, who are drawn to its focus on race, gender, ethnicity, and social class.

Facilities and Costs:

Courses for the program will be delivered in KSU’s new Social Sciences building, which has more than adequate classroom space for the kind of evening classes aimed at working professionals that the institution’s MA programs serve. Teaching faculty, who can build on their work in KSU’s highly successful undergraduate offerings of American Studies courses, are already in place. Thus, start-up costs for the M.A. will be minimal, including primarily clerical support and some re-direction of faculty time.

2. Justification and Need for the Program

2a. Indicate the societal need for graduates prepared by this program. Describe the process used to reach these conclusions, the basis for estimating this need, and those factors that were considered in documenting the program need.

Evidence of societal need for an M.A. in American Studies at Kennesaw State has emerged in data from a range of sources, including input provided by local community leaders (e.g., from the business community, civic organizations, educational institutions) and careful study of the work of other American Studies programs around the country, as well as trends in the field as a whole. Three clear curricular needs have emerged from this data: diversity and inclusion, interdisciplinarity, and civic engagement. All are addressed throughout the M.A. in AMST’s proposed program.

Particularly compelling evidence of need for the program has emerged from faculty interactions with community leaders in northwest Georgia. KSU interdisciplinary faculty in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences have been benefiting from formal interactions with a program advisory board of community leaders and with ongoing, less formal but purposeful interactions with business leaders who persistently emphasize the need for a workforce prepared to cope with, indeed to embrace, diversity in the workplace. No graduate program today is better aligned with this economic and social need than American Studies. While traditional area/regional studies programs can certainly prepare students for work in a particular global region, and international affairs programs offer effective exposure to global issues from a range of perspectives, American Studies as a field today explicitly combines a focus on globalization with “on the ground” pragmatic work in a local, domestic context. AMSTYLE="demands a commitment to cross-boundary work today while recovering histories of complex inter-cultural exchange; and critically examines processes for enhancing domestic diversity. (See, for example, Karen Halttunen, “Groundwork: American Studies in Place—Presidential Address to the American Studies Association, November 4, 2005,” American Quarterly, 58.1 (March 2006), 1-15; see also Vicki L. Ruiz, “Commentary” on Ramon Gutierrez, “Community, Patriarchy and Individualism: The Politics of Chicano History and the Dream of Equality,” in Locating American Studies, Ed. Lucy Maddox; and Gary Y. Okihiro, “Commentary” on K. Scott Wong, “The Transformation of Culture: Three Chinese Views of America,” also in Locating American Studies).

A number of prominent community leaders have recently reviewed the curricular program planned for the M.A. in American Studies and have affirmed their support for its vision and content. These community partners include Mary Ellen Garrett of The Garret Group and Merrill Lynch (a national leader of Merrill Lynch’s diversity initiatives); Wesley Chenault of the Auburn Avenue Research Library, formerly of The Atlanta History Center; Donna Kain, Executive Vice President of Buckhead Community Bank; and Martha Talbott, former Director of Programs for the Atlanta Women’s Foundation.


Local calls from business leaders for academic programs focused on diversity are consistent with reports from a range of recent publications promoting the importance of diversity and diversity-oriented studies to the business community. For instance, Investingin People: Developing All of America’s Talent on Campus and in the Workplace, a short monograph produced by the Business-Higher Education Forum, observes: “Census 2000 has confirmed a dramatic growth in the number and proportion of Americans from a wide variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. This explosion of diversity coincides with technological advances and economic trends that have made it imperative that Americans become personally engaged with the diverse perspectives, interests, cultures, and capacities that exist both within and outside our national borders” (“Executive Summary,” Investing in People, 13). The Forum (whose membership includes representatives from such corporate leaders as IBM, State Farm Insurance, Gallup International, Boeing, Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals, Ashland Corporation, and Liberty Mutual, along with a number of university presidents) has sought not only to promote diversity as a social value but also to shape university culture in ways responsive to increasing diversity in the population. Besides setting out a number of goals related to building diverse student populations reflecting the changing workforce, this project’s leaders also challenged universities to curricular action by declaring:

“Educational programs for students and faculty to foster understanding and eliminate insensitivity, along with more offerings of courses related to the diverse history and culture of American subgroups” can play an important role in building the kind of climate at the university that will support productive interactions in the workforce (41). Both the overall program proposed for the M.A. in American Studies and the content of specific courses (e.g., U.S. Social Movements, Passages to America, America in Transnational Context, and Identities and Social Groups) are designed to address the very needs identified by the Business-Higher Education Forum for university curriculum. Students completing the M.A. in American Studies at KSU will be well prepared for leadership in corporate and community diversity programs like those recently celebrated by one of our own on-campus partners, Sodexho, Inc., whose 2007 Annual Diversity and Inclusion Report delineated how Sodexho’s participation in and leadership for such initiatives as the African American Leadership Forum, the Pan Asian network, the Sodexho Organization of Latinos, and more have helped make the company more productive: “Being known as an organization that values diversity and inclusion has enabled us to recruit the best employees, deliver value to our clients, and improve the quality of life for our employees, our customers, and the communities we serve” (2007 Annual Diversity and Inclusion Report, 2).

Those who wish to succeed in a global economy and in a U.S. community that is increasingly diverse will need skill interacting with others in a culture permeated by diversity. As a recent article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution observed, “Cultural Nuances can make, break [the] deal” in today’s business world, and a crucial skill for business and civic leaders is to learn how others “read” U.S. culture—as well as to navigate the multiple transnational and national cultures that are coming to the Americas (AJC, March 4, 2007, R 13). Publications such as Diversity Inc report on best practices companies must cultivate to cope with the increasingly diverse demographics of their clients—including hiring and training a more diverse workforce. Along those lines, Barbara Frankel has explained that the Top 50 companies in the U.S. are successful in large part because they have built “an inclusive corporate culture, including alignment of diversity organizing goals” (“Diversity Training: Why You Need it, How to do it Right,” Diversity Inc, Jan/Feb 2007, 45-46). Graduates of KSU’s M.A. in American Studies would be well positioned not only to work successfully in such an engaged company, but even to plan, deliver, and evaluate the types of diversity education programs that these researchers have designated as crucial to business expertise today. In a competitive context where “half of the country’s largest law firms have created the position of diversity manager” (Indianapolis Business Journal, 2/5/2007, Vol 27.49, p 15A), universities need to be developing academic programs like the M.A. in American Studies that we propose here, with its core emphases on studying diversity through an applied learning lens.

KSU’s strong commitment to diversity and inclusion positions the institution perfectly to offer academic programs linked to this domain of study and social action. The M.A. in American Studies is part of the ongoing effort to achieve those goals.

Kennesaw State created several years ago the Diversity and Equity Council, which recommended nine goals to support an inclusive culture on campus. (Visit this URL for information: KSU also developed a Vision for diversity development ( More recently, Kennesaw State joined the growing group of universities in the country that have created the position of Chief Diversity Officer. One of the CDO’s responsibilities is to implement and support the academic and community goals such as those proposed by the M.A. in American Studies. Research carried out by a Diversity and Equity Assessment Initiative team of faculty and staff led to the creation of a CDO office on campus and also recommended development of academic initiatives like the M.A. in American Studies that is proposed here, with its core emphasis on studying diversity through an applied learning lens. Looking ahead, the CDO’s office will provide multiple opportunities for students in the AMSTYLE="M.A. program to participate in future assessment and training projects associated with diversity and inclusion goals.

Other campus-based organizations with diversity-related missions have attested to the benefits of having AMSTYLE="M.A. students join KSU’s academic community—benefits for those students and for the university as a whole. For example, student projects with/for the campus’s Center for Hispanics Studies and the Center for African and African Diaspora Studies (AADS) will provide inter-cultural skill-building in a diverse environment. Engaging in collaborative research AADS and CHS faculty will be an especially helpful learning avenue for M.A. students in AMST. Like the AADS undergraduate major, the M.A. in American Studies will provide an “interdisciplinary educational experience” fostering global understandings, to help students “gain an appreciation for the diverse character of humanity.” (See description of the AADS major at Thus, majors in the already-mature AADS program should have a welcome opportunity to continue on to graduate studies in the American Studies program, where they would be able to serve as Teaching Assistants to the AADS program and RAs for the outstanding AADS faculty. Overall, the expertise and energy of the AADS Faculty Group will blend with and enhance AMSTYLE="at KSU by informing the curriculum, research, and events programming.

Long before the results of the 2000 census affirmed such predictions, scholars and political leaders were pointing to the increasing diversity in American society and were calling on universities to take the lead in teaching our citizens to live constructively in this changing social environment. In the workplace and in their neighborhoods, Georgia’s citizens are living in communities much more heterogeneous than in past generations, and this pattern is part of a larger national trend. As Ernest Pascarella and his colleagues have pointed out, “future college graduates will be challenged by a society that is increasingly diverse in terms of race, culture, and values,” so they will need “a greater openness to racial, cultural, and value diversity” (Pascarella, Edison, Nora, Hagedorn, and Terenzini, “Influences on Students’ Openness to Diversity and Challenges in the First Year of College,” Journal of Higher Education, 67 (1996). Recent demographic data from ARC confirms that the trend to increasing diversity throughout northwest Georgia is continuing. (See “Regional Snapshot: Region’s Diversity Booming,” May 2008 report from ARC). For instance, “between 2000 and 2006, the Census Bureau estimates that the 20-county Atlanta region added more than 371,000 African-Americans, which is approximately 41 percent of all growth experienced during the period. To put this in perspective,” the report continues, “only one other state, Florida, added more African Americans during this time.” Overall, even as the “African-American share [of the region’s population] increased from 28 percent to 31 percent,” the “Asian population went from a share of 3.3 percent in 2000 to 4.1 percent in 2006,” and “Hispanic population jumped from seven percent in 2000 to 10 percent by 2006.” Further, now “One in every eight metro Atlantans” was “born abroad.” (ARC report, pp. 1 and 3). Kennesaw State’s proposed M.A. in American Studies will address the crucial state need of addressing the region’s growing diversity through a curricular program that will enhance citizens’ capacity for positive management of an increasingly diverse community.

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