American Studies and the NCSSM Mission Statement

NCSSM Mission Statement

The mission of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, an intellectually stimulating, diverse, inclusive, and collaborative community, is to:

  • educate and nurture academically talented students to become state, national, and global leaders,
  • increase access to high quality public education in North Carolina,
  • cultivate engaged citizens who will work for the betterment of the world,

through challenging programs, with an emphasis on STEM, driven by the pursuit of excellence and innovation.

Photos by Logan LaBo

"I found that I do have an interest in history when I am allowed to go beyond the condensed history usually taught and can explore for myself. The key here was the introduction to this exploration given by this course. Along with this, I believe that American Studies prepared me to enter society properly informed and with a desire to know more."

Natalia Wilson, class of 2020

"I developed a lot as a writer and learned how to think more critically about what I was reading, a skill I did not have before."

Vaishnavi Siripurapu, class of 2018

American Studies and the Mission Statement

The content knowledge in this course is presented within a larger cultural and historical frame, allowing students a more nuanced understanding of the material. Instructors model the practice of considering historical events, works of art, documents, narratives, and key individuals from our cultural and historical past within their appropriate context and as part of a continuum, rather than as isolated events. One of the central goals of the course is to provide students a method to approach an understanding of their own place in that continuum so that they may each approach the role of citizens in a meaningful and rewarding way. In this way, the course fulfills the true spirit of interdisciplinary work, which aims to provide students tools within the classroom that will be of greater use and meaning in their lives outside the classroom.

The interdisciplinary nature of American Studies exposes students to multiple perspectives and encourages them to use these disparate perspectives and voices to construct their own understanding of American history, literature, and culture. Our American Studies courses examine the interdependent and often competing narratives of the development and transformation of American society and culture, and, in doing so, encourage students to think critically and independently about the past and the present. Our American Studies courses focus on the ways the past influences the present and allow students to think about how critical philosophical, ethical, cultural, and social issues have been addressed. This approach gives students a context in which they can think about possible solutions to current issues and problems, fostering the development of citizens who will work for the betterment of the world.

In addition, writing assignments require students to develop a clear thesis and support that thesis with textual evidence. This process encourages students to synthesize information from a variety of sources. As one alumnus noted, the course “gave me the tools of language, literature, psychology, and history that allowed me to gain a global and intersectional perspective and speak my truth.”