Teacher Cohort

A Message from the Program Director

 Dear Prospective Students,

Provocative, enlightening and transformational, the American Studies Graduate Program at Fairfield University has a long history of working with local teachers from various disciplines to help them rethink and reimagine “how” and “what” they teach their students about the idea of America. In an effort to further this tradition, our program’s dedicated, interdisciplinary scholars are excited to launch our first “Teacher Cohort” for fall of 2017.

Rather than the professor-teaching-student model of traditional learning, cohort programs bring students together to build community, foster creativity and deepen the learning experience. This unique educational initiative will provide local teachers across a variety of disciplines the opportunity to engage with one another and with faculty as they wrestle with theories and questions at the heart of contemporary American Studies.

As director of the graduate program in American Studies, I invite you to join your fellow teachers and Fairfield faculty as we grapple with the complexities of our nation’s cultural, intellectual, economic, religious, artistic, social, literary and political traditions, past, present, and future.

Peter L. Bayers, PhD
American Studies Program

Course of Study

Our American Studies cohort courses are flexibly designed to accommodate teachers’ busy schedules while allowing them the option of customizing their projects to accommodate school-specific student learning outcomes.

Classes will be delivered in a variety of formats including:
• Traditional once-a-week seminars
• Hybrid seminars (combination face-to-face and online)
• One-week and four-week summer courses
• Five-day “study away” course at the Redwood Library in Newport, RI

This 2.5 year (optional three year) program, which leads to an M.A. degree begins in September 2017. Its regular course work concludes in August 2019.*

Final projects for the M.A. can take the form of a thesis, creative project or curriculum project and can be completed in December 2019, or as late as August 2020.

* Students are expected to finish the cohort during the allotted timeframe. Should a student be unable to maintain the course schedule, he or she can matriculate in the traditional M.A. program with the program director’s permission.

Sample Courses

Our American Studies graduate courses encompass a wide range of disciplines from Black Studies, Women’s Studies and Religious Studies to Politics, History and the Performing Arts. Classes include, but are not limited to, the following areas of study:

Critical Issues in American Studies

This graduate seminar provides an introduction to the field of American Studies. Using interdisciplinary approaches, students will survey the themes of race, ethnicity and immigration; expression and imagination; values and ethics; gender; and institutional power and politics in American society and culture.

Crises and Turning Points in U.S. Foreign Relations, 1776 to 2009

This seminar explores crises and turning points in U.S. Foreign Relations from the American Revolution to 9/11, the Iraq War and the present.

Ethnic American Performance & Society

This course explores the social, political, economic and cultural forces that have shaped the United States via the themes, perspectives and production choices expressed in its ethnic drama and performance.

Inventing Themselves: African-American Women’s History

At the intersection of race, gender and class, African-American women often challenged the codification of “blackness” and “femaleness,” as well as limited conceptions of class consciousness. This course focuses on African-American women as subjects and agents of pivotal importance within the family, community, church and labor force.

Battle Over Family Values in American Politics

Issues of gay marriage, abortion, abstinence, shifting gender roles within the family and new parenting and reproductive methods are some of the most hotly debated policy issues in Contemporary American politics. This seminar explores these debates, their policy implications and their significance to current elections, while examining the historical context and ideological battles that characterize the tumultuous relationship between the family and the American state.

The History of Jazz

This course traces the development of American jazz from its origins in black musical traditions. Topics include the roots of jazz in ragtime, blues, work songs and march music.

Teacher Testimonials

So many of our graduate program’s participating teachers have gone on to use their American Studies degree learning in many aspects of their lives, both professionally and personally. Here are just a few examples of the benefits they gained from their time at Fairfield University.

Evan Olmstead
Social Studies, Greenwich High School

“The Fairfield University American Studies program has expanded my content knowledge and conceptual framework in ways that have been invaluable to me as a Social Studies teacher. Every course allows me to gain unique perspectives on American History and culture, which I integrate into my own teaching. As a result, my high school classroom benefits from a rich infusion of supplementary materials that I otherwise would not have.”

Kelsy Doheny
7th Grade Social Studies, Bethel

“I have had a very positive experience in the American Studies program. As a Social Studies teacher, I have found it extremely useful to be in classes at Fairfield that combine history, politics, sociology and English, among other things. This program is making me a better, more well-rounded teacher while simultaneously challenging my academic inquiry.”

Ben Gott
Middle School English, Greens Farms Academy

“My experience at Fairfield University has enriched my life as a teacher and as an American citizen, allowing me to look more deeply at the ways in which our nation has come to be defined by its arts, culture, politics and people. Also, I have had an incredible experience with the Fairfield faculty. They have encouraged me to think more critically, to write more clearly and to approach a variety of topics from a multi-dimensional perspective.”

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