Languages, Culture, and Society

If you're driven by the desire to understand who we are and where we're going, then the University of Iowa is the place for you. Because at Iowa, we're all about asking big questions. How do race and the environment impact each other? What effect does technology have on the law? How closely are culture and politics tied? At the University of Iowa, you’ll gain the skills to bring new perspectives and enhance our society’s understanding of how the world operates and functions.

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African American Studies

African American Studies examine the unique experiences of African-descended people living in the North American colonies and the United States from the 17th century to today.

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American Studies

American Studies explores the dynamics of cultural experience and aspects of everyday life in our diverse nation, such as popular culture, fine arts, institutions, values, and gender and ethnic relations.

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Ancient Civilization

The study of ancient civilization focuses on the culture, religion, art, language, and philosophy of the Mediterranean basin from approximately 2000 BCE to 600 CE. Students learn about the contributions of the ancient world to life in the present and future.

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Art History

The study of Art History involves historical analysis and the interpretation of culture, providing a broad background in the humanities. This program is designed to prepare students for graduate work in Art History, the humanities, or related fields.

The major provides a strong liberal arts background and stresses the development of critical visual thinking, close reading, academic writing, and research skills. 

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Asian Languages and Literature

The Study of Asian Languages and Literature Program provides a broad understanding of civilizations that extend back thousands of years. It gives students the opportunity to develop advanced skills in an Asian language while they study the history, art, literature, politics, geography, religion, and anthropology of Asia.

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Classical Languages

The study of Classical Languages, including Greek and Latin, examines the literature and cultures of the Mediterranean basin from approximately 2000 BCE to 600 CE.

Study in classics helps students understand the contributions of the ancient world to life today and in the future.

Students with a degree in this area go on to careers in medicine and law, teaching, or pursue advanced degrees in Library and Information Science, Museum Studies, Religious Studies, History, Archeology, and Business.

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French is spoken by 200 million people worldwide, primarily in Europe and Africa. French-speaking traditions exist in the United States, notably in parts of Louisiana and Maine. Knowledge of French allows you to study and work abroad in parts of Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, and in the Indian Ocean area.

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Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies

Gender, women’s, and sexuality studies (GWSS) is a multidisciplinary field that focuses on the perspectives of gender and sexuality along with class, ethnicity, nationality, and race. It examines ideas about women and men that often are taken for granted and encourages critical thinking across many disciplines, particularly in the humanities and social sciences.

Iowa’s program also analyzes how gender and sexuality shape people’s daily lives, and it probes the relationship between biological sex differences and the social and cultural roles of women and men.

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The Department of German offers a comprehensive undergraduate program of study in German. It facilitates the development of proficiency and confidence in the German language beginning with elementary and intermediate language courses and extending through advanced courses in linguistics, literature, and culture.

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Global Health Studies

The Global Health Studies Program offers an interdisciplinary and experiential approach to the study of the complex factors influencing health and disease locally and around the world.

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History is the heart of a liberal arts education. The Department of History encourages students to develop an understanding of change--how it happens and why it happens the way it does--that enables them to engage our dynamic world as active and informed citizens.

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International Studies

Students in the International Studies Program learn that the complexity of current world conditions requires a multidisciplinary approach to international issues and global connections. They take core international studies courses to learn key concepts and practical skills, and extend their education by choosing from an array of internationally focused courses from the social sciences, humanities, and the arts.

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Italian is a Romance language spoken by more than 85 million people around the world. It is widely used in the arts, business, and technology. Whether you want to work overseas, study art in the land of Michelangelo and Da Vinci, research your family roots, read Dante’s Divine Comedy in the original, or simply learn to order dinner in an Italian restaurant, the study of Italian will start you on your journey.

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Linguists study the underlying principles of human languages. They are interested in understanding how children learn their native language without much instruction before they enter school and how people speak and understand sentences they have never heard before. Linguists also study language change through time. Some linguists study how damage at different locations in the brain causes different types of linguistic problems.

Rather than attempting to learn many languages, linguists search for the organizational principles of the world’s languages.

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More than 230 million people speak Portuguese, making it the sixth most widely spoken language in the world. It is the third most spoken language in the Western Hemisphere (after English and Spanish) and the most spoken language in the Southern Hemisphere. An estimated 1.3 million Portuguese-speakers live in the United States, and Brazil—where Portuguese is the official language—has the fifth largest economy in the world.

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Religious Studies

Religion shapes the way people interpret the world and their place in it. It conditions how they feel and what they imagine to be possible and informs the way they relate to others. Religions and religious ideas are connected to every aspect of modern life and culture.

The major in Religious Studies enables students to develop the critical skills and strengths to thrive in an increasingly diverse and interconnected world.

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The BA program in Russian trains students in both written and spoken Russian and in Russian literature, culture, and civilization. 

Russian is the 10th most widely spoken language (of 322 overall) in the United States. One in every 372 Americans over age 5 uses Russian in the home. 

Russian is currently the fifth most widely used language in the world, reportedly spoken by 278 million people. With 164 million native speakers, it is the largest native language in Europe.

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Social Justice

Social justice refers to the overall fairness of society and the manner in which it divides its rewards and burdens among groups of people.

Working with marginalized groups, social justice agents or advocates are concerned with bringing equality within society. Progress and success are measured not in individuals, but rather with respect to an entire community, city, state, or nation. 

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Social Justice and the Performing Arts

The Certificate in Social Justice and the Performing Arts is designed to expose students in any major to a combination of Theatre Arts, Dance, and Music courses across disciplines and give them opportunities to take part in and create projects.

This certificate helps students to align their discipline studies more closely with their interests and desire to be of service to their communities and peers.

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If you’re interested in languages and the people who speak them, consider a major in Spanish. You will become skilled at understanding one of the world’s most widely spoken languages as well as reading, writing, and speaking it. You’ll also learn about Hispanic or Luso-Brazilian literature and culture.

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Sport Media and Culture

Sport Media and Culture examines the meaning, history, and culture of sport. Coursework provides students with the critical skills necessary to understand sport’s relationship to media, economics, politics, and education. A focus on race, class, and gender in sport is central to the major.

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Translation majors learn to critically think about the art and craft that is converting written materials from one language to another. Students will come to understand the role Translation has in areas such as world languages, literature, and global affairs. Engagement in Translation offers the opportunity to interact and collaborate with like-minded peers.