While I am not a North American student, I am an American. I grew up in multicultural Miami, reflecting my first-generation, multicultural upbringing. While I have been very surprised by how much the students of IS know about the U.S., there still lie a lot of misconceptions and generalizations.
The United States is a superpower, with one of the largest economies and one of the largest militaries in the world. But beyond that, the US is a diverse country that fosters many cultures. There is no denying the influence the United States has on the world. While the large presence of the US is great because it creates a lot of current events to discuss both in and out of the classroom, it is also limiting because many students feel that they know everything and there is no need to study North America.
However, studying North America allows you to dive deeper beyond headlines and get better insight into the US. During the specialisation, students will understand the overlapping and clashing dynamics of the country, with factors like social class, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation. In North America: Culture, you can look forward to watching Paris is Burning, a documentary of the LGBT drag ball culture. Furthermore, you will be able to understand the origins of the US, understand its founding, and understand how the country has progressed politically and economically. In North America: Politics, you will discuss the fun and dramatic political elections, using academic ideas and concepts. You will be able to understand how things get done, why some things don’t get done, and understand the intricacies of the American political system. After you have accumulated all this knowledge, students will be able to make predictions about the US, analyzing the trends of the superpower.
While the US is the main focus when studying North America, there will be a lecture or two on Canada and Mexico to get a general overview. If you are curious about Canada and Mexico, lectures and tutors are always willing to give you more information.
While I didn’t choose North America, I wouldn’t discount it as an ‘easy’ region. The lecturers, tutors, and students of North America look forward to welcoming you to the region, and I look forward to discussing the headlines about my country with you.
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