The end of American Studies at UCSC

(via Shawn Freeman):

UCSC has suspended the American Studies program with a possible permanent termination of the major. This is a very sad day for UCSC considering that the school already doesn’t have an Ethnic Studies program.“American Studies has been an important site for studying US culture and politics and one of the programs where students can pursue ethnic studies and critical race studies at UCSC.”

American Studies is the second major at UCSC to be suspended in the past year. It is speculated that Feminist Studies and The History of Consciousness is next to be eliminated.


This is the email that American Studies majors received in their inbox today:


Dear American Studies students:


The American Studies faculty has voted to suspend admission to the American Studies major as of 7/1/11.  As of that date, students will not be able to declare the major for at least a year or two. Please be assured that as current students you will be able to get the AMST courses that you need to complete the major in a timely fashion.  The faculty believes that this is the program’s highest priority in the current budget situation.  We also hope that the suspension of the existing major in American Studies will stimulate further discussions among faculty and administrators about how UCSC will develop and sustain academic programs with some of the objectives of the American Studies major if this suspension leads to the eventual elimination of the major.


The department is convening an informational meeting for majors on Monday, January 10 at 2:30 pm in Humanities 1, room 202 (across the hall from the American Studies office).

The American Studies faculty has taken the step of suspending the major reluctantly, after much deliberation.  For several years, we have sustained our major with a fewer permanent faculty than is desirable.   The recent budget crisis has made things worse. It has become clear to us that we cannot permanently sustain a high quality major on current faculty resources.  We have therefore concluded that the best way to support the teaching and research in our scholarly areas and to ensure our own professional development as faculty is to seek homes in other campus departments. In the meantime, we will continue to teach courses in American Studies in order to guarantee that our current students are well served.

Beginning next year, the current AMST major will enter a “teach out” mode.  This means that we will organize the curriculum to guarantee that all declared students can fulfill the major requirements in a timely fashion.  Students who have not yet declared should take steps to ensure that they can qualify for admission in the spring term.  We will provide more details at the informational meeting and Donna will continue to advise you on how best to proceed.


We do not take this step lightly.  American Studies has been an important site for studying US culture and politics and one of the programs where students can pursue ethnic studies and critical race studies at UCSC.  The current faculty plans to participate in conversations about how undergraduate programs might develop in the future that would serve these goals.  We encourage you to participate in those conversations as well.

We hope to see you at the majors meeting next Monday,


Prof. Eric Porter, Chair

Department of American Studies



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