March 18, 2014

Cornellians Create Petition Calling for Return of American Studies 2001

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Students and alumni alike had mixed emotions upon learning that American Studies 2001: The First American University will not be offered during the 2014-15 academic year.

The course — taught for four years by Corey Earle ’07, associate director of student programs in the Office of Alumni Affairs — will be replaced with a one-time, four-credit course taught by Prof. Isaac Kramnick, government, and Glenn Altschuler Ph.D. ’76, dean of the School of Continuing Education. The new course will focus on the last 75 years of Cornell’s history and will be offered in honor of the sesquicentennial, The Sun previously reported.

In response, Simon Boehme ’14, Andrew Levine ’14 and Jon Weinberg ’13 created an online petition — which has garnered over 500 signatures as of Tuesday night — calling for the University to continue offering American Studies 2001, according to Boehme, who is currently a teaching assistant for the class.

“This is disappointing news for the Cornell community,” Boehme said. “AMST 2001 has established itself as a very popular class among students, staff and faculty to understand the rich culture, traditions and history of Cornell. I invite anyone to go on Twitter on a Monday night and follow the hashtag #AMST2001.”

Weinberg said he hopes that the American Studies Department offers an explanation for why the course will not be offered and reconsiders offering it for the Class of 2015. He said, however, that if American Studies 2001 is not able to be offered, he hopes an “adequate substitute” is created so that Cornellians do not miss out on a year of Earle’s class.

“This class has touched so many Cornellians and so many different kinds of Cornellians,” Weinberg said. “It’s a remarkable cross-section of the Cornell community.”

Both Weinberg and Boehme said that they respect both Altschuler and Kramnick and the course that they will be offering in the fall. Both of them, however, said that they think the courses serve different purposes.

“I think both [classes] reach different audiences. [AMST 2001] is a class for students who don’t have time to take a four credit class,” Boehme said.

Weinberg agreed, adding that Earle’s class is unique and does not have a parallel to other academic experiences on campus.

“It’s a very different animal and a different manifestation,” Weinberg said. “To insinuate that one replaces the other is completely, in my mind, false.”

In response, Earle took to Twitter Tuesday to offer his support for the sesquicentennial course.

“Thank you for the kind words [and] support of #AMST2001. I hope the 1,250 students who took it better appreciate what it means to be Cornellians,” Earle posted on Twitter. “The new course will be a great opportunity for students to get in-depth Cornell history from two legendary professors.”

Students who planned to take the course said they were disappointed to learn that American Studies 2001 will not be offered in spring 2015.

Bridgette Aumand ’15 said she thinks it is a shame that the class will not be offered and said she hopes the University will reconsider whether or not it offers the course.

“I was really looking forward to taking the course, but I just don’t have four credits to devote to it,” she said.

Sarah Cochran ’15 echoed Aumand’s sentiments about the number of credits she is able to fit in her senior schedule.

“This class is extremely important to me since I’m a legacy,” she said. “It’s not just the ‘History of Cornell,’ as they call it, it’s the history of my family’s time at Cornell.”