Global Studies Initiative Revamp Receives Faculty Approval

Nick Maahs, News Reporter

The Global Studies Initiative has been revamped and approved by the faculty to resume operation after parts were placed on hold for external review during the 2016-2017 academic year. Starting in the fall, students who fulfill the program’s requirements will be able to have a “concentration” in Global Studies listed on their transcript.

To do so, students must complete courses from three “Global Thematic Areas” entitled “Systems & Histories, Circulation & Movements, Places & Events;” engage in off-campus studies, take six credits of language study, take an “Analysis & Reflection” seminar and complete an assessment and capstone project senior year.

Course requirements for the concentration can be satisfied through courses taken to meet the requirements of a major or minor.  Professor of Politics and Program Director Aaron Bobrow-Strain described this as “double-dipping.” For instance, a student might fulfill the Global Studies requirement to take a course covering “Global Places & Events” through an Art History class about “L.A. as a global city.”

This is representative of a greater effort to design the program complement rather than add to students’ academic load.

“It’s different from a major or minor… It’s really more of a framework for reflecting on and structuring the kinds of work and experiences you’re already doing at Whitman,” said Bobrow-Strain.

In addition, this serves to make the concentration “accessible to a wide-range of students—even students with highly-restrictive majors who would never be able to add an additional major of minor,” according to a January draft of the program’s proposal.

Finally, the program does not create demand for additional faculty members or require changes to the courses of current faculty members. According to the January draft, “unlike an interdisciplinary major program, it does not have a required introductory or capstone course that must always be staffed.”

This marks a shift of the program priorities, which was previously much more faculty-oriented; its prime feature was a seminar on global issues.  Though this is not presently a part of the program, Professor Bobrow-Strain plans to eventually add something similar.

“We’re rolling out a series of programs. We’ve spent most of year focusing on the concentration, we really wanted to get the student part out first, but subsequent to that we’re working on some other components and part of that will involve a version of the faculty seminar. The hope is to make a kind of parallel faculty and sophomore student seminar, where they would meet from time to time to exchange ideas,” he said.