Foundational Area Two

Questions?

  • General Education
    202-885-3879
    Fax: 202-885-1069
    gened@american.edu
    Leonard, Room 101

    White, Emily R
    Manager, Undergraduate Curriculum and Scholars Program

Mailing Address
Traditions that Shape the Western World

The rich traditions

that shape the Western world convey ideas, visions, and cultural practices that are shared, lasting, and tenacious. These deeply rooted phenomena help us make choices about identity and affinity with family, community, history, values, and place.

Some courses in this Foundational Area examine powerful visions that philosophers, political theorists, historians, religious thinkers, scientists, and social critics have of the Western experience. Others explore competing ideas about human nature, liberty and equality, and the consequences of social change. Finally, some uncover those traditions growing out of the unique experiences of women, ethnic groups, and indigenous peoples as they express and preserve their own principles of social organization and cultural expression.

All courses in this area emphasize chronology and share a close attention both to the substance of the past and the ways to study it. Through direct engagement with primary texts, you learn to ask questions, debate ideas, and come to understand the ways that we experience the events and ideas of the past in our own lives.

Molly Kerrigan

Learning Objectives

  1. explore the diverse historical and philosophical traditions that have shaped the contemporary Western world
  2. read and discuss fundamental texts from those traditions, situating the texts in their appropriate intellectual contexts
  3. develop your ability to critically and comparatively reflect on religious and philosophical issues, in dialogue with others both past and present

Course Offerings

see Schedule of Classes for class times and course descriptions

Anthropology

ANTH-235 Early America: The Buried Past

Art History

ARTH-205 Art of the Renaissance

Communication

COMM-270 How the News Media Shape History

Government

GOVT-105 Individual Freedom vs. Authority

History

HIST-100 Historians and the Living Past
HIST-110 Renaissance and Revolutions: Europe, 1400-1815
HIST-140 Modern European History
HIST-205 American Encounters: 1492-1865
HIST-215 Social Forces that Shaped America
HIST-235 The West in Crisis, 1900-1945

Jewish Studies

JWST-205 Ancient and Medieval Jewish Civilization
JWST-210 Voices of Modern Jewish Literature

Justice, Law and Society

JLS-110 Western Legal Tradition
JLS-225 American Legal Culture

Literature

LIT-125 Great Books That Shaped the Western World
LIT-235 African American Literature
LIT-240 Asian American Literature
LIT-265 Literature and Society in Victorian England

Philosophy

PHIL-105 Western Philosophy
PHIL-220 Moral Philosophy
PHIL-235 Theories of Democracy and Human Rights

Physics

PHYS-230 Changing Views of the Universe

Religion

RELG-105 The Religious Heritage of the West
RELG-220 Religious Thought

Sociology

SOCY-215 The Rise of Critical Social Thought

Women's, Gender and Sexualities Studies

WGSS-150 Women's Voices Through Time

World Languages and Cultures

GERM-230 The Modernist Explosion: Culture & Ideology in Europe