Language and Culture Majors and Potential Jobs

by and

Though the world and its peoples have been rather well documented, they still fascinate--and with good reason. Culture is intrinsic to the sense of self, and understanding others is essential in this extraordinarily global and interconnected society.

African Studies

African studies is one of several categories of majors considered as area studies. It concerns the study of the African continent and its people, from the earliest times to the present. This major is often undertaken prior to, or together with, work in law, foreign service, or diplomacy as an undergraduate study; some colleges combine it with anthropology, economics, history, politics, sociology, or other subjects as a dual major program.

Education

The plan of study includes history of the African peoples, their origin from earliest known times, the development of various peoples into tribes and nations, economic life, and traditional practices. The origins and rise of different cultures, folklore, and religious practices are also studied, as well as the emergence of northern and southern (that is, sub-Saharan) national groups, colonialism, and political movements of the twentieth century. Classes include introduction to anthropology, history of Africa, Islam in Africa, politics in Africa, colonialism and modernization, economic growth, the Near East and Africa, northern Africa, Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa. Some programs will have an African languages requirement. If possible, study abroad should be considered.

Possible careers

  • college professor
  • counselor
  • diplomat
  • education consultant
  • foreign service officer
  • freelance writer
  • government area specialist
  • lawyer
  • military officer
  • political scientist
  • social worker
  • teacher

African American Studies

This major consists of the study of the history and culture of African Americans. It seeks to provide students with a thorough and multi-faceted understanding of the development of African American culture. It will include an examination of current economic, social, and political forces affecting African Americans today.

Education

The plan of study begins as a liberal arts study, with course work ranging from English composition through history, psychology, and social science. At the upper-division level, course work includes history of African Americans in various regions of the nation, as well as African American art, music, poetry, politics, religion, and literature. Classes include introduction to black studies, black history, black music, black literature of the nineteenth century, contemporary black literature, ethnomusicology, jazz, the political movements among black Americans, history of Africa, sociology, political science.

Possible careers

  • anthropologist
  • book editor
  • clergy/counselor
  • college professor
  • historian
  • lawyer
  • librarian
  • museum curator
  • research librarian
  • social worker
  • sociologist

American Studies

American studies traces the development of the United States as a nation, from a multidisciplinary frame of reference. History, culture, economics, sociology, and literature all play a role in the study of America and its people. Readings and/or projects in these areas foster an understanding of how American society functions. This broad, flexible approach provides students with valuable background for a wide array of careers in the private and public sectors, since the skills developed include observation, analysis, planning, and creative thinking for the community and workplace.

Education

The program of study may involve a concentration in one or more areas under the American studies umbrella. Beginning with a core curriculum of courses intended to provide a broad foundation of knowledge, the student may elect to specialize, during the junior and senior years, in such areas as U.S. history and society, women’s studies, culture and communications. Special projects, seminars in topics of current importance, and independent research will complete the major. Classes include introduction to U.S. history; American political and social thought; history of the mass media; the American people, sex race, and class in American literature; religion in America; music in America; American popular culture.

Possible careers

  • book/magazine editor
  • college professor
  • foreign service officer
  • freelance writer
  • government area specialist
  • lawyer
  • military officer
  • museum curator
  • political analyst
  • public administrator
  • secondary school teacher
  • social worker

Foreign Languages

Foreign language is a generic term for a study relating to the mastery of one or more languages other than English or to the study of a culture through examining the literature of that culture in its vernacular. Nearly every college offering a baccalaureate program provides a major field in foreign language study. The most commonly offered languages include French, Spanish, Italian, Latin and German; other languages may be offered as special major options or as dual majors allied to one of the four mentioned above. Additional languages offered may include Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Arabic, Portuguese, and Hebrew.

Education

The plan of study emphasizes the spoken word, with intensive language labs, the literature of language, from ancient time to the present, and the history and culture of the country and its people. Some may include study abroad or an independent study option. A careful review of college catalogs is mandatory for this major; colleges vary widely in the strength of their foreign language programs and students seeking careers that demand superior language ability must compare programs diligently. Classes include introductory, intermediate, and advanced language courses with lab, history, literature, and culture of the subject country; seminars; study abroad.

Possible careers

  • college professor
  • diplomat
  • editor
  • foreign service officer
  • international business
  • international trade specialist
  • interpreter/translator
  • lawyer
  • lecturer
  • military officer
  • publications translator
  • researcher
  • secondary school teacher
  • textbook author/editor
  • tour guide

Native American Studies

This major is designed to inform the student about the heritage and contributions of Native Americans. The history of tribes indigenous to the Americas spans many centuries and many cultures. Therefore, the study touches on nearly every field within the social sciences, including history, geography, anthropology, sociology, religion, and archaeology.

Education

The plan of study includes foundation course work in the humanities, with electives in psychology, introduction, introduction to Native American cultures, and tribal organization. At the upper-division level, courses focus more intensely upon specific people, such as the Aztecs, the Mayan civilization, and the North American Plains Indians. Independent research projects on topics of current interest and field experience may be required. Classes include ancient Meso-America, culture and religion, introduction to linguistics, cultural anthropology, North American geography, tribal government, Native American religion and philosophy, sociology of Native Americans, Central American Indian culture, field experience.

Possible careers

  • anthropologist
  • archaeologist
  • archivist
  • book editor
  • clergy/counselor
  • college professor
  • government Indian agent
  • historian
  • lawyer
  • research librarian
  • research scientist
  • social worker
  • teacher

Sociology

Sociology is the scientific study of humans in society. As societal changes have accelerated since the turn of the century, the discipline has grown rapidly. The field employs its own techniques of assessing social developments and prescribing ways for individuals and institutions to understand the implications of such changes. Some sociology majors emphasize field work and empirical study in their programs, while others delve much more deeply into social theory. The latter approach is especially well suited for academic graduate work; the former, for applied fields of employment.

Education

The plan of study includes a basic foundation in the humanities and course work in such areas as demography, urban, suburban, and rural communities, mass media, family life, and legal structures. Sociological techniques such as survey research, field observation, and experimentation are stressed. Field research and internship opportunities may be available for an applied course of study and will be required. Classes include psychology, social structure, statistics and probability, urban living, demographics, computer modeling of social environments, coping with social change, social theory, history, political science, social anthropology, primitive societies, field research, internships.

Possible careers

  • college professor
  • criminal pathologist
  • freelance writer
  • government researcher
  • lawyer
  • lecturer
  • management consultant
  • probation officer
  • psychologist
  • research scientist
  • social scientist
  • social worker
  • sociologist

Urban Studies

This interdisciplinary major of urban studies is the study of how cities work. The program examines the organization and administration of cities and the delivery of services such as education, health, police, sanitation, and housing and analyzes the process of public, urban policy-making. The effect of politics on this process is also a subject of concern. Urban planners shape the patterns of urban areas and town layout. They look at how to restructure inner cities, re-design streets and open spaces, and provide settings for public life. They may shape the form and space of specific places such as civic or shopping centers, or they may design city-wide systems such as streets, lighting, signing, greenways, or bicycle and pedestrian ways.

Education

The plan of study is interdisciplinary. Course work is geared toward developing the skills and concepts needed for analysis of urban problems within the context of such areas as sociology, history, economics, anthropology, and politics. Field experiences and internships with urban agencies of government are encouraged (required in some colleges), and allow students to see the working of groups in formulating policy and responding to the needs of citizens. Classes include urban anthropology, the rise of the city, politics in the urban scene, history of the American city, social science research methods, social psychology, urban contemporary issues, field study, independent research.

Possible careers

  • college professor
  • consultant
  • entrepreneur
  • lawyer
  • municipal official
  • political analyst
  • publications editor
  • social scientist
  • sociologist
  • urban affairs specialist
  • urban planner

Women’s/Gender Studies

Women’s and/or gender studies offers an interdisciplinary perspective on the formation of gender and its relation to power, such as sexuality, race, class, nationality, religion, and age. Students are encouraged to ask questions within the context of a transnational world and from the perspectives of history, sociology, cultural studies, science, new technology, and art. Many students consider further graduate work in a specific area of concentration. Like many liberal arts majors, this course of study can prepare students for many different avenues of employment after college.

Education

This program is designed to introduce students to women’s studies, focusing on gender as a category of analysis. It will offer an introduction to feminist theory as well as more advanced courses that seek to expand capacities for critical reflection and analysis and to engage students to consider feminist research. The curriculum is interdisciplinary and involves the analysis of specific gender practices in areas such as feminism in a transnational world, the politics of representation, feminist science studies, women and work, women and film, gender and health, and the politics of childhood. Classes include introduction to gender studies; gender, sexuality, and race; feminist theory, women and work, women in literature; women’s literature; women and religion; feminist theology; African American women and slavery; Asian American women; women and the law; sociology of gender; identities across difference.

Possible careers

  • college professor
  • community organizer
  • editor
  • equal opportunity officer
  • grass roots politician
  • social worker
  • women’s center director
  • writer/journalist

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