A Polarized Society:
Understanding America’s Fault Lines and Their Historical Roots
July 11-22, 2016 | 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

About the Summer Institute

For over two decades, teachers and graduate students in American Studies, political science, history, and related disciplines have explored in depth a topic drawn from American history, politics, culture, or social policy through the American Studies Summer Institute, co-sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Boston and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. The intensive two-week program, held at the Kennedy Library in July, includes informative and thought-provoking lectures and discussions led by a distinguished group of scholars and guests.

The 2016 Summer Institute

This year’s program, held at the Kennedy Library, will focus on the origins and meanings of contemporary rifts in the US polity. For more than two centuries, Americans have sought to reconcile the civic ideal of E Pluribus Unum—out of many, one—with challenges to national unity posed by an increasingly pluralistic society.

The Institute will ask the following questions: What explains contemporary divisions in the body politic? How has a nation dedicated to building civic cohesion become so fragmented and tendentious? How should we make sense of and mend the fences that divide us? What can the past teach us about these matters? These questions will serve as the guiding framework for consideration of issues such as congressional deadlock, money in political campaigns, immigra­tion reform/restriction, refugee crises, terrorism, religious intolerance, racism and the #BlackLivesMatter movement, American military interventionism abroad, “family values” debates, gun control, and the growing disparities between the rich and poor.

Graduate Credit

Participants may earn three graduate credits in American Studies. Teachers may earn graduate credits or PDPs.

Registration and Cost

Fill out and return the registration form as soon as possible, but no later than May 27, 2016. In the event that registration requests exceed the available capacity, preference will be given to graduate students enrolled in the UMass Boston American Studies Program and to secondary school teachers.

The registration form should be sent to:

The Summer Institute
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
Columbia Point
Boston, MA 02125

Fax: 617.514.1641

For those who wish to receive graduate credit, the fee for this grant-supported course is $460. For teachers taking the course for PDPs only, a non-credit option is available for $150. Payment is due on the first day of the Institute. 

For further information, please call the Kennedy Library Department of Education and Public Programs at 617.514.1581 or email us at educationjfk@nara.gov.

American Studies Summer Institute

American Studies Summer Institute

Download the registration form for A Polarized Society: Understanding America’s Fault Lines and Their Historical Roots, held on July 11-22.