College considers dropping American Studies major

Citing declining enrollment numbers and faculty interest, faculty members proposed to the Provost to discontinue the American studies major.

With only four declared majors, the American studies (AMS) program may be phased out this year, if the Curriculum and Educational Policy Committee, faculty and board approve the proposal.

Past chairs as well as the current chair of the program, professor Steven Belletto contacted Provost Abu Rizvi over the summer with their proposal to discontinue the major. Depending on how the Lafayette College Curriculum and Education Policy Committee, faculty, and board of trustees treat the proposal, they major may be phased out this year.

Rizvi emphasized that the proposal is ongoing and unfinished, and that the outcome of the decisions of the various bodies cannot be predicted.

Among the reasons the faculty used to support their proposal was declining student interest, declining faculty interest, shrinking number of courses unique to AMS and fewer concentrations offered, according to Rizvi.

President Alison Byerly said the courses may be reconfigured, with some being absorbed into American literature in the English department and history courses.

Danialie Fertile ‘16, a government and law and American studies double major, does not see the shrinking number of courses unique to American studies as a problem.

“Taking time to understand American culture, history, and our role in the world will only be a positive thing,” Fertile wrote in a message. “I wish that the program was continuing. It really is pretty neat material and very interdisciplinary.”

The elimination of the major does not mean the elimination of its courses, according to Rizvi. Students will have the ability to take the same FAMS, government and law, economics, English, and history classes as before, but will no longer receive credit for the major.  

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