Culture and Politics

The Culture and Politics (CULP) major trains students to examine critically the complex relationship between culture, knowledge, and power.  It teaches students theoretical frameworks and analytical skills that help them understand the systems of power that have shaped the modern world, foster their cross-cultural tolerance, and empower them with intellectual and ethical tools to improve a world marked by power hierarchies and cultural conflicts.

Goals of the Major

Students learn to apply analytical tools from multiple fields by critically reflecting on society and the systems that shape it, and they enhance their analytic and cultural sophistication through collaborative problem solving.  The CULP major offers curricular flexibility by allowing students the freedom and creativity to structure their own course of studies. Students build a rigorous foundation for their studies through an in-depth gateway course that stresses fluency in a variety of theories, definitions, and genres of culture.  Students then assemble their own course sequences around individually chosen concentrations in consultation with the dean.  All students are expected to master the analytical methods and skills necessary to become thoughtful, rigorous readers and writers on cultural power relations in the international arena.

Objectives of the Major

The contemporary world is characterized by extensive cultural contacts that enhance global connections while also posing complex challenges to acting responsibly and sensitively with the unfamiliar.  Cultural competence and diplomacy are central to the peaceful functioning of a global system marked by deep historical inequalities.  Preparing students to treat opposing viewpoints and experiences with respect, CULP fosters a sophisticated and informed understanding of cultural diversity and the politics of identity. To prepare students for unforeseen conflicts and opportunities, CULP trains students to:

  • Identify, compare, and synthesize key concepts in cultural and social theory across multiple disciplines—including history, anthropology, sociology, geography, literature, music, performing arts, film and new media and visual studies—that address the connections between power, culture, and identity.
  • Explicate, evaluate, and critique cross-cultural political issues, dynamics, and events in clear, concise writing.
  • Recognize multiple perspectives and dimensions of cultural interactions, and apply critical frameworks to competing claims to rights and recognition.
  • Develop the substantive, analytical and ethical skills necessary to question stereotypical, polarizing, and essentialist views of difference, as a precondition for the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the domestic and international realm.
  • Understand and apply an expansive concept of culture that empowers ordinary people, organizations, and institutions as agents of change.

Requirements for the Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service in Culture and Politics

Courses in the SFS Core requirement serve as foundational requisites of this major.

  • Theorizing Culture and Politics (CULP-2100)
  • Four CULP Core courses (theses can come from outside the CULP department)
  • Five courses in the student’s thematic concentration (chosen in consultation with the CULP dean)

Writing in the Major

CULP students will satisfy the University’s Integrated Writing requirement through the required gateway class (CULP-2100).  Because CULP is an interdisciplinary major, there is no one methodology or writing genre that students must master.  The self-designed concentration may require a combination of discipline-specific methodologies or writing strategies housed in the SFS and the College, and students are encouraged to find additional opportunities to hone their writing skills throughout their coursework. 

Honors in Culture and Politics

Selection of honors candidates is based on evaluations of proposals submitted to the selection committee.

To graduate with honors in Culture and Politics, a student must:

  • Earn a cumulative grade point average of 3.50 and a grade point average of 3.67 in the major by the date of graduation.
  • Successfully complete two semesters of coursework dedicated to preparation of a thesis.
  • Submit a senior thesis on an approved topic which is judged to be of honors quality by a faculty committee appointed for this purpose.

For more details, please see the BSFS website.

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