Depth Areas

Margie Salazar

Liberal Studies alumnus Margaret Salazar (Class of 2005) completed the depth area in American Studies and moved on to receive her PhD in American Studies at USC in 2010. She is currently on a postdoctoral fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.

Depth Areas: Overview

The depth areas allow Liberal Studies students the opportunity to pursue a particular interdisciplinary area of investigation in more detail. Working with advisers, students can use the depth areas to customize their education and prepare themselves for their particular educational and professional goals beyond graduation. There are ten depth areas: students in Option I choose two depth areas or one concentration, and students in Option IV choose one depth area. Depth areas with an asterisk (*) can be taken as concentrations in Option I.

1. American Studies
This depth area allows students to approach America as a concept and as a cultural, social, and historical entity from the perspectives of many different subjects. Building from core courses in Liberal Studies, students choose from courses in subjects such as Chicano Studies, English, Geography, History, Latin American Studies, Pan-African Studies, Television and Film Studies, and Women's and Gender Studies. 

2. Creativity and Performance
Students interested in pursuing creative expression and performing arts can take this depth area. Students choose from courses that critically explore aesthetics as well as courses that allow them to create art in subjects such as Art Studio, Creative Writing, Dance, Music, and Theatre.

3. Cultural Studies
In this depth area students explore ideas about culture and cultural expression across a range of traditional subjects. Students examine the history of the concept of culture, learn to identify and analyze a variety of modes and genres of cultural expression, and develop arguments about cultural texts that traverse disciplinary boundaries.

4. Language Arts
The focus of this depth area is on developing an appreciation of language and the ability to read carefully, analyze critically, and write effectively.  Students acquire the training to think about the way that language is used to represent human experience and promote beliefs and values.  They also receive instruction in how to construct clear, cogent, and perceptive arguments, in both their oral and written expression.

5. Mathematics
Working with advisors, students in this depth area can choose courses in Mathematics suited to their educational and professional goals. 

6. Natural Science
Students interested in deepening their subject matter knowledge of the sciences can pursue this depth area. Students choose courses in subjects such as Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Physics, and Science Education.

7. Race and Ethnicity Studies
This depth area focuses on the history and continuing importance of race and ethnicity in the history, culture, political economy, literature, and arts of peoples around the world. Students in this depth area choose from courses in Asian and Asian American Studies, Chicano Studies, Pan-African Studies, and related subjects from across the campus.

8. Science, Technology, and Medicine Studies*
Drawing from the traditions of critical science studies scholarship in a wide variety of subjects, this depth area examines the social and cultural dimensions of science and its technological and medical applications. While deepening students' knowledge of the sciences, the concentration explores the social and cultural imperatives that shape science and its applications. It also studies the influence of the sciences on social formations and cultural productions. 

9. Social Science
In this depth area students explore the history, geography, and politics of societies around the world using approaches from the social sciences and humanities. Students explore the philosophical, religious, ethnic, and scientific traditions of societies as well as the interrelationships between human societies and their natural environment.

10. Women's and Gender Studies*
The Women's and Gender Studies depth area is an interdisciplinary program of study that takes gender in culture and society as its central focus. This depth area draws from the traditions of feminist scholarship in a wide variety of disciplines, from the natural and social sciences through the humanities and arts. Although the field of women's studies has always looked at the construction of gender and gendered roles and representations, the use of "gender studies" makes the focus both general and specific: students critically analyze gender in the context of class, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, and explore gender as a category that structures power, as a set of cultural meanings to be interpreted, and as a set of bodily performances.

*Depth areas with an asterisk can be taken as concentrations in Option I.