Last semester, Wittenberg students and faculty rallied together to save a number of academic programs from being cut due to the financial crisis currently hitting Wittenberg. Less than a week later, all of the programs were saved and none were cut. That was until this semester.
In October, the Faculty Committee Board voted to have the American Studies program cut, a decision that will affect prospective and current students alike.
“Normally, such an action takes effect the following academic year, with any declared majors or minors allowed to conclude the program,” Thomas Taylor, history professor, said.
The American Studies program will no longer be offered to students following the conclusion of this academic school year. Typically, any student declared within a department that has been cut has the opportunity to graduate with that degree. However, there have not been any American Studies majors or minors within the past several years, so the decision was unanimous.
Although this decision may affect some current students based on the fact that a program has been cut from Wittenberg academics, there are not any students that would directly be affected by the decision. Most of the effects this decision has will be on prospective students as they decide which university or college to attend. Financially, cutting the program has little to no effect on Wittenberg.
“Eliminating the program does not save anything since it only required one specialized course, the Intro course,” Taylor said. “It is possible that the program might have fared better if faculty associated with [the program] had been freer to focus on it and offer the Intro. But with recent cuts, many professors are spread about as far as they can go.”
However, with low student interest in the program, Taylor believed that leaving professors to have more freedom within the program wouldn’t have made much more of a difference.
The American Studies program focused on an “interdisciplinary program designed to offer the student an opportunity to study American culture in its broadest sense from a variety of perspectives,” the program’s webpage stated.
The program offered focuses on a variety of topics but with specific focuses on Human Diversity in American Culture, Americans and Their Natural Environment, American Culture Studies, Individualism and Community in America, The United States in Cross-Cultural Perspective and Research in American Studies.
The major only required an American Studies introduction class and eight other courses from classes offered by the history department.
Students can no longer declare a major or minor in American studies, and there are no American Studies classes available to students in the spring other than an Independent study or Internship. At the conclusion of the spring 2017 semester, the American Studies program will no longer be an option for Wittenberg students. Students can then choose from the roughly 80 other majors or minors.