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American Studies

An undergraduate career stands as testament to liberal arts and sciences

Mark Hansen had his doubts about going to college.

He was a creative thinker with a flair for finding alternative paths.

“My parents pushed me to go to college,” he says. “I wanted to start a record label.”

So he compromised by studying sound recording and music business at a school in Connecticut.

But Hansen experienced a political awakening that caused him to rethink his future. He wanted to contribute to the public conversation about political and social issues, but in a way that would highlight overlooked perspectives and resonate with ordinary citizens.

“You can’t expect every person to have the time or energy to develop a stance on every problem,” he says. “So I feel that the best way to get people involved is through art, music, and mass culture.”

Convinced he needed a more comprehensive education, he transferred to Rutgers and began a relentless pursuit of knowledge.

I feel lucky that through fate, or through chance, I came to Rutgers

In the Honors Program in the School of Arts and Sciences, he took off in multiple directions with his studies, drawing intriguing connections between humanities, social and behavioral sciences, and fine arts.

Mark HansenHe graduated with degrees in American studies and visual arts. But he also focused on cultural anthropology, Middle Eastern studies, and political science.

Hansen describes his eclectic academic record as a response to a complex world facing complicated problems. It’s also a testament to the enduring appeal of the liberal arts and sciences.

“I felt it was better to have an understanding of many disciplines, rather than sticking with a single field,” Hansen says. “I felt that innovative thinking came from an interdisciplinary approach.” Indeed, this semester he plans to work with students from the Department of Biomedical Engineering on a mobile game/application aimed at detecting autism and other developmental disabilities in children. He is planning on a career in architecture, but in a capacity that goes beyond designing buildings. He wants to explore how architecture can help strengthen communities and contribute to civic life. Ultimately, he is seeking work that will benefit society.

“I feel lucky that through fate, or through chance, I came to Rutgers, and had resources at my disposal,” he says. “I have no excuse not to help those who did not have such luck.”

This Department is part of the School of Arts and Sciences

As a major in the School of Arts and Sciences, you’ll have full access to a liberal arts education that spans 34 programs for undergraduates. You will acquire both the specialized knowledge of the field you choose to study in depth, and broad knowledge of the world from the renowned scholar-teachers at Rutgers. You’ll graduate ready to meet contemporary challenges in your workplace, in your hometown, and in the global community.


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