Student Reflections: The AMCS Experience

Ashley Carpenter (1999)

M.A. in American Culture Studies

Master's Thesis: "Climate Change and Disenfranchised Communities"

What were your main areas of study in AMCS?

Some of my areas of study within the AMCS program were to engage in the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality of those in American society. Every class I took differed in a particular focus of American culture (i.e. literature, American land conservation, film, etc.); however, I typically incorporated these core subjects in to my work.

What was the subject of your Directed Research Project (final project / thesis)?

My Directed Research Project looked at the manifestation of climate change on disenfranchised communities. I analyzed the way that climate change was not just an issue about the environment, but also an issue of justice and human rights.

What have you been doing since you graduated? How do you use your AMCS training?

Currently I am pursing my doctoral degree in Education, with an emphasis of Social Justice and Student Development at University of Massachusetts – Amherst. Without my training in AMCS, I would not be as strong of a student as I am today. Going through the DRP process really helped improve my scholarly writing. Researching, writing and analyzing a subject area, was great preparation for my doctoral coursework, as well as for writing my dissertation and proposal.

What was your most memorable experience in the program?

My most memorable experiences in the program were the meaningful discussions I had in classes. I know that sounds really cliché, but I truly loved learning from everyone because we were all so radically different. I usually was always one of the youngest students in my various courses, so we all had distinctly different lenses on certain issues that created such provocative conversations.

Did you have a favorite course?

This is a tie between “Literature of Nature and Democracy” (Course # 4251) taught by Dr. Suzanne Loui, and “Seminar on Diversity, Identity and Social Change” (Course # 5300) taught by Dr. Linda Lindsey. Dr. Loui is a phenomenal teacher, educator and mentor, and her support within this course is what led me to choose the topic for my final DRP project. Dr. Lindsey was fantastic facilitator and instructor for the diversity seminar course. Many of us differed in opinions regarding the material, and she always did a great job in managing a meaningful dialogue.

What advice would you give to people are considering the program, or are currently enrolled?

Definitely make the program something of your own. If you are interested in a particular field or area use that as a guide through your courses. There are many supportive faculty and staff in the department that can help guide you through the process. It’s a beautiful academic experience with enriching scholarship.

Michael Allen

University College Coordinator, AMCS