Americanists who read this newsletter will probably be aware that the Learning and Teaching Support Network was set up two years ago by the UK funding councils, to provide information and services for the entire academic community. Its purpose is to help improve the quality of the education we all offer, addressing the needs of teachers in relation to their particular academic disciplines. Twenty-four subject centres now exist, each providing a range of support services for a set of disciplines, sub-disciplines and interdisciplinary groupings. As its title suggests, the Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies has the lead responsibility for Area Studies, which covers the teaching of interdisciplinary programmes focused on a particular country or area, including American Studies. Within the Subject Centre team, Ali Dickens is the academic co-ordinator for area studies activities, and to advise us on the kind of activities that area studies teachers would find useful, we have established a Specialist Advisory Group, chaired by Dick Ellis.
So how may we help you? May I offer three suggestions?
Check out our website (www.lang.ltsn.ac.uk), especially the material in the Area Studies pages. We carry a great deal of information on teaching and learning issues which will be of interest to teachers of American Studies, and we are adding to it constantly.
Come to one of our events. We organise a programme of workshops and other events, some of which will be of direct interest to you. They are advertised on our website and elsewhere. In the past, our roadshows have offered a platform for one of the most interesting initiatives in teaching American studies - the FDTL Americanisation project.
Join our mailing list. We send out regular e-mailings, updating colleagues on forthcoming activities. We also send out information packs, newsletters and other information though the post to our contacts. You can join the mailing list via the website, by email or by writing to us.
We are acutely aware that Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies do not exhaust the disciplinary richness of American studies. Fortunately, several of our partner subject centres also provide information and services that Americanists may find useful. If you are reading this, it is likely you will feel that your teaching of literatures in English can benefit from the services of the English Subject Centre. You may also find your own American studies interests usefully served by our colleagues in the centres for History and Archaeology, or Economics, or Sociology, Anthropology and Politics, or again Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences. We are co-operating closely with these centres to provide a higher level of support for disciplines related to area studies, and are developing a programme of joint activities, for which you will find reflected elsewhere in the newsletter. In addition to trying to ensure that Americanists and other Area Studies colleagues do not fall into the gaps between our disciplinary areas, we shall hope to make a more concerted response to the issues common to interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary studies.
Paradoxical though it may seem, the main strength of the subject centres is not in the expertise we have collected together, but in our ability to put subject specialists in touch with each other. Americanists may well be the best people to help other Americanists. We know that there is an active British Association for American Studies, and other networks and events that support this purpose. The subject centres add another dimension to this supportive network, with a specific focus on tackling your teaching and learning concerns. It is a two-way process and we hope you will add to its effectiveness by contributing your ideas and expertise.
Newsletter Issue 3 - January 2002
© English Subject Centre