Comparative American studies (CAS) examines the range and diversity of American experiences, identities, and communities. From interdisciplinary perspectives, students study social, political, economic, and cultural processes within the United States as well as explore the role of the nation in a global context. By placing the United States in a transnational and comparative framework, the program invites students to consider the relationship of different communities to the nation-state, ranging from issues of colonialism and empire building to social justice movements. Courses investigate power, inequality, and agency through the analysis of intersecting structures of race, gender, class, sexuality, and citizenship. Central to these studies are examinations of the relationship of theory and practice within the scope of historical and contemporary contexts.
Comparative American studies faculty approach the study of the United States with expertise drawn from many interdisciplinary fields, including American studies, ethnic studies, indigenous studies, gender and sexuality studies, and media studies. The program has particular strengths in transnational approaches to Asian American studies, feminist studies, Latina/o studies, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer studies, and Native American and Indigenous Studies.
The CAS program encourages students to personalize the major by choosing an individual focus within one of three concentrations. Students select classes that address their interests within a framework of course offerings designed to build conceptual and practical skills. The program particularly emphasizes critical thinking, writing, and communication as aspects of civic engagement. Concentrations in the CAS program include:
- Identity and diversity
- Globalization, transnationalism, and nation
- Histories and practices of social change
Students acquire the skills to participate in projects addressing diversity issues and put theory into practice in order to build community awareness, activism, and involvement. Graduates choose employment in a wide range of fields including social service, education, public health, arts and media, psychology, and public administration. CAS majors have also sought graduate education in social work, public health, American studies, and ethnic studies.