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The Interdisciplinary Module consists of one obligatory course that introduces the basic facts, themes, and debates of the field of North American Studies as seen either from the humanities or the social sciences. Here students also receive their first training in academic writing and research. In the second obligatory course, a current research topic related to North American Studies is examined from various angles and disciplines, introducing students to multiple problem solving strategies.
Depending on their profile, students either complete Understanding North America (UNA) A and Multidisciplinary Studies A or Understanding North America (UNA) B and Multidisciplinary Studies B.
Understanding North America
UNA-A is taught during students' first winter term covering the disciplines of literary studies, cultural studies, and history. The second part (UNA-B) is offered during the summer term and expands the overall framework with the disciplinary perspectives of sociology, economics, and political science.
While UNA is one of the most challenging courses at the John F. Kennedy Institute, it rewards students with insights into multiple disciplines along with a solid foundation of knowledge and skills for further studies.
Each UNA module consists of two components: lectures and tutorials. The lectures offer an overview of central developments, concepts, and questions of American culture, literature, and history. The tutorials, in contrast, provide a forum to discuss selected issues in depth. You will have the chance to revisit the content of each lecture, but also to dive into specific materials and issues in smaller group discussions. The teaching assistants who organize the tutorials will assist students in their preparation for the final written exam at the end of the term.
A central goal of UNA is to enable students to critically investigate and analyze North American societies of the past and present from an interdisciplinary angle. At the same time, the course covers the methodological and theoretical basics of each contributing discipline, thus enabling students to make conscious decisions about their study plan at the John F. Kennedy Institute, for example in what kind of discipline they will pursue the orientation module.
For the Multidisciplinary Studies Module, students take part in at least one multidisciplinary lecture series (Ringvorlesung), which is offered every winter semester. The program for the lecture series can be very different and every lecture can be quite unique, as the institute usually invites scholars from various institutions and departments. Various case studies, research methods and disciplinary perspectives are introduced. In the past lectures have for example been taught in cooperation with the Institute for Latin American Studies, examing the borderlands between the continents. Other topics have been "Disaster and Disease in North America", "Popular Culture, Media, and Politics in the US", and "Surveillance and Social Order".