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  Old Westbury Home > American Studies > Majors & Minors

Majors & Minors

Undergraduate Degrees

B.A. in American Studies
Ask a series of citizens how they describe the United States of today and you likely will hear a variety of definitions. The American Studies program seeks to engage students in thinking broadly about the U.S. by focusing on the nation's social and cultural history; its people and their actions; and the changing character of its cultural, social, political, legal, and economic structures.

By integrating history, sociology, literature, and media studies, the American Studies major demands that students explore their own self-consciousness and improve their understanding of how the nation, and world, operate. Whether the objective is graduate school or a career in such fields as education, law, public policy, and journalism, Old Westbury's American Studies degree provides a strong interdisciplinary foundation with a proven track record of success.

The American Studies faculty is comprised of scholars and authors with training in history, literature, sociology, and media studies. Many have been awarded an array of grants and honors in recognition of their accomplished teaching, research and other scholarly pursuits.

B.A. in Media & Communications

Offered through American Studies Department, the Media & Communications major prepares students to succeed in careers in print or electronic journalism and other related media industries and activities, such as video editing, online design, public relations and promotions.

Through hands-on training, real-world experience, and a solid academic foundation that integrates career preparation with a liberal arts education, students gain the depth of skills required to succeed in the digital world of 21st century communications. Courses are taught by a faculty that includes former and current journalists, video production artists, and public relations professionals.

To support its coursework in television production, the College offers two state-of-the-art studios featuring the latest in digital filming and editing technologies. For radio production experience, students practice what they learn in the classroom by participating on the staff of WCOW, the campus radio station.

In addition to cutting-edge practical training, students receive a thorough grounding in the history and theories of communication, and a rich and full sense of the relationship between the current "information explosion" and Western culture, enabling them to become enlightened leaders in the media world.


Environmental Studies
Students interested in environmental issues may enhance their knowledge of the interaction of humans with their environment by pursuing a minor in Environmental Studies. This interdisciplinary course of studies exposes the student to both environmental sciences as practiced in biology and chemistry, as well as policy issues, which are explored from a social science perspective. Students who are majoring in the natural sciences may wish to pursue this minor in preparation for a career in environmental research. Students in the Social Sciences and Humanities may want to broaden their knowledge of environmental issues in preparation for a career involving environmental policy or law. Direct participation in environmental agencies and organizations on Long Island or independent laboratory research on an environmental problem is an important aspect of this minor. Sponsoring departments: American Studies, Biological Sciences, Chemistry/Physics, Politics, Economics and Society; Psychology and Sociology

Media and Communications
Media has become a central force in U.S. and global society - impacting on all of culture from politics to education, molding, massaging every aspect of modern life. An understanding of media is a critical tool in understanding and functioning in contemporary society. "Media literacy" has become a basic educational need. Whether it be comprehending the ways of campaigns today for President, Congress, Governor or local office, or modern economics, or reaching through to educate children brought up in the "media culture", a solid foundation in knowing the dynamics of media is essential.

Media Design
The Media Design minor brings together the disciplines of communications and visual arts in a reflection of the increasingly media savvy -- and media saturated - 21st century world. Through a curriculum derived jointly by the faculties of the American Studies and Visual Arts Departments, the minor offers students the ability to combine theory courses related to such concepts as mass media, American film genres, and popular culture with such skills based courses as drawing, desktop publishing, and applied photo imaging.

Pre-Law Studies
Law schools maintain that there is no particular undergraduate major that will best prepare students for admission to the study of the law. In accepting applicants, all use LSAT scores, GPA's, reference letters, personal written statements, and various indicators of applicants' interest in and suitability for entry into the profession. However, schools have identified the requisite skills for success in the completion of a law degree. They include analytical and problem-solving skills; the ability to reason, to construct a logical argument, and to present that cogently orally and in writing. A strong liberal arts education is crucial in developing these abilities. Through a curriculum that crosses the disciplines of American Studies, Humanities & Languages, Politics, Economics and Society, and Sociology, students access a range of courses which contribute to a knowledge base that is pertinent to law studies. The curriculum of the minor pulls together courses in the liberal arts disciplines of economics, history, philosophy, political economy, political science, and sociology. Sponsoring departments: American Studies; Humanities and Languages; Politics, Economics and Society; and Sociology.

Women's Studies
Women's Studies is not merely the study of women. It examines the world and the human beings who inhabit it by focusing on questions, analyses and theories built directly on women's scholarship and experience. As a new discipline, Women's Studies not only challenges basic methods and presuppositions in established disciplines, but also crosses boundaries, giving fresh views into subject matter and creating a coherent new way of viewing the world by placing women at the center of the inquiry. Today there are women's studies organizations, conferences, graduate programs, research centers, workshops, journals and magazines. There are also jobs for women's studies students in female publishing houses, magazines, newsletters, women's centers' midwives' centers, mothers' centers, day care centers, as well as female focused law firms, medical practices, public relations firms, human rights organizations, employment centers, etc. Sponsoring departments: American Studies; English Language Studies; Psychology


Did You Know?

More than 22% percent of Old Westbury's professors have earned among SUNY's highest honors - the rank of Distinguished Teaching Professor, Distinguished Service Professor or Chancellor's Award for Excellence in teaching and service.

35 Old Westbury students gave up their traditional Spring Break rituals in 2006 and instead volunteered their time and effort in New Orleans to aid recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The JP Morgan Chase Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant to support the Curriculum Materials Center in the College library.

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