American Studies students are leaders on campus, heavily involved with student life, and organizations at Georgetown, such as The Hoya, The Voice, The Corp, WTGB Georgetown Radio, Blue and Gray Tour Guide Society, GUGS, Philodemic, Mask and Bauble, Rangila, Prison Outreach Program, and GAAP. American Studies students also work in a wide array of off campus jobs and internships, at the Newseum, Christie's Auction House, The New York Times, the Smithsonian, WDCB Chicago Public Radio, OddLot Production Company, the Wendy Davis for Governor Campaign, and the Kennedy Center. American Studies students have also worked with a number of elected officials: Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE), Rep. John Carney (D-DE), Rep. Jose E. Serrano (D-NY), Rep. Rick Berg (R-ND), Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AK), Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehiten (R-FL), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL).
Hey! My name is Benjamin Reiser, and I am a junior in the College double-majoring in American Studies and Government with a minor in Performing Arts. My experience in the American Studies department has truly been life-changing. Before I became involved in the American Studies program at Georgetown, I was exclusively a Government major, determined to run America one day. At the end of my freshman year, I decided to enroll in the introductory course for the American Studies major on a whim. It was the best impulse decision I have ever made. The American Studies program has provided me with an incredibly unique lens through which I can explore a monumental personal passion: American musical theatre. As an American Studies student, I have been afforded new theoretical frameworks, the ability to understand the dynamic relationships between the history of the American musical and American culture/identity/memory, and perhaps of most personal significance, a community with which I can share my related experiences. I began my undergraduate career at Georgetown interning on Capitol Hill. My work in and with American Studies has given me the motivation and confidence to switch gears and explore in other professional avenues, including internships at organizations like The New York Musical Theatre Festival and The Kennedy Center. I am excited to continue developing my American Studies thesis, which will likely center around the new Broadway musical Hamilton (I mean, really, who else can say they’re writing a thesis on Hamilton?). I’ve always known about my love for musical theatre, but it wasn’t until I became an AmStud that I realized how fruitful and rewarding it could be to follow and explore that passion. I hope you’ll consider exploring your interests and passions through the American Studies program as well!
I remember arriving at Georgetown and being in a whirlwind... I had no idea what I wanted to study nor where my academic path would take me. I had a wide range of interests from the intersections of gender in American culture, to my incredibly nerdy knowledge of U.S. presidential fun facts. I knew I wanted to study something I was passionate about, but I never thought my major would help me to both explore my curiosities and become a part of an amazing community of professors and students. I stumbled upon the American Studies program accidentally when taking a required course for the major, US history since 1865, and I can honestly say that meeting fellow "Amstuds" in this course inspired me to give the major's intro course a shot, thus altering my Georgetown experience. What I did not expect of the American Studies program was to inspire me to do something that scared me: expand my curriculum outside of the United States onto a new continent. This semester I've had the opportunity to study abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina and everyday I am challenged to think critically of my own country based on the knowledge I've gained through AMST courses. I've been challenged to think about the collective memory developed in other Latin American countries of what the true "American" experience means and how this has created a shared continental idea of what the United States is as a hegemon, culture and country. Everyday in South America I look to my breadth of knowledge from AMST courses, whether it be among Argentine students critiquing the United States foreign policy, to talking to locals about how McDonalds and US imperialism has impacted Latin America. The American Studies program has forced me to never look at a fact at face value and to explore different perspectives of a concept in order to develop an analysis. I'm so grateful for the freedom the program offers to explore my curiosities and I could have never explored a new continent and gained such fruitful knowledge (and a new language under my belt!) without the American Studies program. If you love studying something that you're passionate about, having the freedom to research something you never thought would interest you, and be a part of a close knit (and extremely cool) group of professors and students, I hope you consider the American Studies program too!
I’m currently a junior on the pre-med track, majoring in American Studies, and minoring in Biology. Coming to Georgetown, I was interested in both the humanities and the sciences, but was worried that I would have to give up one or the other. In this regard, an interdisciplinary major like American Studies proved to be perfect major for me as it taught me that combining seemingly different areas of studies is not only possible, but also very useful in providing unique perspectives. On top of this, the flexibility of the major enabled me to do what I initially thought may be impossible. American Studies allowed me to pick up a science minor, fulfill my pre-med requisites, and have classes in the NHS (all of which have turned out to be some of my favorite classes) count towards my major. My goal is to have my dual science and American Studies interests to accumulate into a senior thesis about an aspect of healthcare or medicine in America. By encouraging me to play a bigger role in shaping my own education, American Studies has also fostered in me a greater desire to become more proactive. This past summer, I did something I previously would never have seen as being within my comfort zone if not for the sense of intellectual curiosity that American Studies has instilled in me. I travelled to Western Australia to conduct field research on wild dolphins. For a period of ten weeks, I was able to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity and be out on a boat following numerous dolphins on almost a daily basis. Becoming an American Studies major has been one of the best decisions I have made at Georgetown and I am certain that it will continue to benefit me in the future in more ways than one.
Before American Studies saved me from my thoughts of double majoring and double minoring, I was an incredibly lost underclassmen interested in essentially everything. From Government, English, Sociology, and Women's and Gender Studies, I was at a place where I could barely even narrow it down to those four things. Fast forward a ton of meetings with my dean later, I am a senior American Studies major who is writing a thesis on marijuana reform policy as a racial justice issue. Since American Studies is inherently interdisciplinary, I am able to come at my research from all different kinds of angles: race, class, history, anthropology, policy, etc. As a co-founder of the Intersectional Feminism Magis Row House and a person who lives at the complicated intersection of many different identities, including being a racial minority, low-income, first-generation American, LG[B]TQ, etc., having the opportunity to engage in academic discourse from an intersectional and interdisciplinary lens is something that I cherish deeply. Becoming an AmStud is by far one of the best decisions I made as an undergraduate!
My name is Andrew Debraggio, and I was a double major in American Studies and Government, and am particularly interested in the confluence of American culture, politics, and policy. For my senior thesis I am analyzing de-industrialization in Oneida County, New York—my home—through the lens of the re-use of industrial space. When I am not talking about prison policy or raving about Utica you can find me walking Jack the Bulldog, making corny jokes on campus tours, or planning an Alternative Breaks Program spring break trip. I’ve interned for the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce; the Office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (if you haven’t figured it out already I have a lot of New York pride); the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for Ranking Member Senator Patty Murray; and in the fall of my senior year been a part of the Family-Centered Social Policy Initiative at New America. The interdisciplinary nature of American Studies has defined my experience at Georgetown in and out of the classroom. Applying what I have learned in my courses to Oneida County for my thesis has changed the way I look at home and given me hope for its future. While on the Hill I would constantly grapple with public policy, questions about American identity, and would try to get selfies with famous people (including Bill Nye the Science Guy). I cannot thank Dean Howard enough for telling me about the American Studies program back when I was a freshman. I love the major, enjoy all the AMStuds, and have a more critical appreciation of what it may mean to be an American.
Part of the reason I left my hometown in Michigan to attend Georgetown was because of the American Studies major here. My time in the American Studies program has allowed me to pursue such disparate academic interests as the history of Detroit, the relationship between rock n’ roll and social change, and the philosophy behind national collective memory. I consider myself very lucky to have been given this level of freedom in my studies and the opportunity to learn alongside such a small group of passionate and thoughtful peers. The independence that the American Studies program fosters and its insistence that every student personalize and take responsibility for their own course of study inspired me to apply for the George F. Baker Scholars Program, which has in turn helped shape my trajectory leaving Georgetown. The American Studies program demands that its students develop an intensely critical and creative approach to analysis while also stressing growth in writing skills and the necessity of utilizing multiple perspectives to truly understand a problem. These are skills that have helped me tremendously in all areas of my academic work, including my business minor classes, and have made me better equipped to contribute at my internships in both the nonprofit and finance sectors. The American Studies program has above all encouraged me to remain curious and to find adventure and excitement in intellectual pursuits, a quality that I will cherish even once my time on the Hilltop has ended.
The American Studies Program at Georgetown consists of three years of focused study. Students apply to American Studies their freshman year at the University and begin the program curriculum in the first semester of their sophomore year. American Studies students take the required CIV I and CIV II classes with their year group, and then also conclude their experience with their class going through the senior thesis colloquium. Approximately 25 students make up each American Studies year group, allowing for the major to include between 70 and 80 students, while each class remains very intimate.
American Studies Students and Faculty gathered at the 2013 Picnic.
American Studies students are curious, engaging, life-long learners who are motivated by unusual and diverse scholarly interests and enjoy independent research and thinking as much as they do working closely with their peers. American Studies students tend to be inquisitive and committed to their activities in various areas of Georgetown life. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the major, students often have diverse interests. These interests are draw from a variety of disciplines, including, but not limited to, media and popular culture, American history, government, and public policy. American Studies students enter the program with a desire to draw connections, answer difficult questions, research, and write and during their time in the program refine a strong set of academic skills which allow them to critically engage with a significant selection of disciplinary topics.