Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department or Program

Graduate Humanities

Department or Program Chair

Laura Stivers, PhD

First Reader

Christian Dean, PhD

Second Reader

Heidi Chretien, PhD


This course is designed to introduce college students to the current significance of the Arts in American civil society. We will begin by examining the concepts of civil society and social capital and their correlations to social well-being. The robustness of voluntary associations is a distinguishing characteristic of American civil society. It is a basis for how we carry out democracy and maintain our common resources. Social capital is the embedded value of our social connections with others. Our mutual trust and reciprocity contributes to the health, wealth, tolerance, and efficient governance of society. We will explore the unique ability of the Arts to bridge socio-economic, ethnic, generational, and educational differences by connecting us to our common humanity. The Arts in civil society are indispensable in their capacity to communicate and address common issues that demand public resolution. We will explore how several Arts organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area contribute to social well-being and sustain access to shared resources.