American Foundations Minor

Image of American constitution atop of American flag

American Foundations

Minor

The American Foundations minor focuses on providing an enhanced understanding and appreciation of the American founding and the U.S. Constitution.

Offered and co-sponsored by the Department of Social Sciences and the Department of History.

The American Foundations minor creates an interdisciplinary community of cadets and faculty members who, as the result of rigorous analysis, at USMA and within the Army can enrich and enhance an understanding and appreciation of the American founding and the Constitution. Cadets minoring in American foundations take two cornerstone courses, three electives, and a capstone course.

When they are commissioned as second lieutenants, cadets take an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” This minor provides cadets with a stronger knowledge base of the Constitution, the contexts from which it emerged, and the specific features of the democratic republic Americans created when they ratified this revolutionary plan for their government.

Cadets minoring in American foundations take two cornerstone courses, three electives, and a capstone course.

Cornerstone Courses

Cadets study the philosophical foundations of the American republic in “SS386: Political Thought;” as well as either “HI394: Revolutionary America,” which considers the causes of constitutional ratification; or “HI390: Early American Republic,” which focuses on government under the new Constitution.

Electives

Cadets choose three electives on the American founding era and its legacy from departments across West Point. Examples of qualifying electives include “EN321: American Literature I,” LW475: Advanced Constitutional Law Seminar,” and “SS385: History of Economics.”

A full list of electives can be found in the USMA Redbook.

Capstone

"XH476: Tutorial in American Foundations" allows cadets to engage in individualized study of texts central to the American founding under the supervision of a faculty member. The tutorial employs small group discussions to examine selected texts from the period of the American founding utilizing diverse disciplinary perspectives. In consultation with a faculty supervisor, cadets select an area of focus as the basis for a tailored reading program. The course concludes with an oral examination by a committee of faculty members representing different disciplines.

Required Core Electives

The course selected as the history foundation course cannot be selected from this list:

  • EN321 AMERICAN LITERATURE I
  • HI340 COLONIAL AMERICA
  • HI390 EARLY NATIONAL AMERICA
  • HI394 REVOLUTIONARY AMERICA
  • LW475 ADV CONSTITUTIONAL LAW SEM
  • PY370 17TH & 18TH CENTURY PHILOSOPHY
  • SS376 AMERICAN POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT 
  • SS385 HISTORY OF ECONOMICS

Cadets who select this minor can participate in the Domestic Affairs Forum where they learn about domestic politics and government through a variety of experiences including round tables, mentorship programs, panel discussions, and numerous trip sections across North America. They may also engage with the Model UN. Cadets who select this minor can also expect to meet expert guest speakers, travel on exciting trip sections, and have the opportunity to compete for slots in the Academic Individual Advanced Development (AIAD) program, a USMA-run academic enrichment experience at locations like The White House, Congress, and the Pentagon.

To learn more about enrichment in this area of study, visit the Department of Social Sciences.