Faculty of PhilosophyAmerican Studies

The objective of the Bachelor’s degree programme in American Studies is to provide students with basic knowledge of North America from the early colonial period through the 21st century, including its politics, literature, culture, geography, history, and society, as well as its ethnic diversity and religious influences. To meet the challenges of this complex research subject, the American Studies program at Heidelberg University is explicitly multi- and interdisciplinary.

Students in the American Studies programs gain not only a comprehensive understanding of North America, but also methodological proficiency in six individual disciplines, intense English-language practice closely linked to the subject matter being studied, and fundamental multidisciplinary competencies that form the basis for lifelong learning. In an increasingly globalized world, in-depth knowledge of local, regional, transnational, and transcultural relations is becoming ever more vital. In this context, area studies that focus on individual regions of the world can be very useful, because their very interdisciplinary character requires that a variety of research methods and instruments be utilised, contributing to the acquisition of concrete knowledge about these regions and their cultures. 

Special Features and Characteristics

The American Studies academic program at Heidelberg University is unique in its thematic variety. In particular, the geographical and religious-historical portions of the instruction and the additional opportunity to earn an law certificate in the Bachelor’s program make this program unique, not only throughout Germany and Europe, but worldwide. 

In a matter of only a few years, the Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA) was able to establish itself as one of the most important European centers for research-oriented and practice-relevant American Studies. The HCA participates in interdisciplinary research projects with international partners, promotes the establishment of transatlantic networks, and engages in lively dialogue with the general public. Students of the American Studies program reap the benefits of these synergies.

Research

The HCA performs research within six faculties and more than half a dozen disciplines, thereby providing a uniquely diverse pool of America-related expertise. The interaction between these disciplines enables the pursuit of American Studies from an interdisciplinary perspective.  

Primary research interests include 

  • Afro-American History 
  • Religious History (specifically, Puritanism and early Evangelicalism) from a Transatlantic Perspective 
  • History of Bible Interpretations in the USA 
  • Transcendentalism 
  • The Literary Market 
  • Urban Inequality and Current Processes in North American Urban Development 
  • Studies of US Economic History and Trade Policy 
  • Development and Transformation of Authority and Trust In American Culture, Society, History, and Politics 
  • The US Presidency and Individual Presidents 
  • The Role of Think Tanks and Public Intellectuals in the US 
  • Politics and Culture of the Transatlantic Relationship from the Cold War to the Present  

Occupational Areas

The expert interdisciplinary and intercultural qualifications gained by graduates of the American studies program allow them to pursue careers in science, the public sector, business, the media, or civic organizations. These include international organizations, publishing houses, cultural institutions, university and non-university scientific institutions, political and business consultancies, project management, and adult education. The HCA also regularly invites its alumni back to speak to current students and introduce potential career opportunities to them. 

Insights

The HCA has a reputation for great interdisciplinary research in the field of American Studies. Studying my country from a global perspective is also a unique feature of the Heidelberg Center for American Studies which I really enjoy.

Marco Morales-Mendez, 28, American Studies, 1st Semester Master

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