Diversity & Democracy: Civic Learning for Shared Futures
Diversity Innovations Institutional Leadership and Commitment
Diversity Digest Volume 8, Number 3

Diversity Digest
Volume 8,
Number 3
(2005)

Download our print issue (PDF)
Curricular Transformation
Shared Futures: Global Learning and Social Responsibility
Recasting Religious Studies at Beloit College
Hybrid Student Identities: A Resource
for Global Learning
Global Education Continuum—
Four Phases
New Global Studies Degree Combines Liberal Arts and Preprofessional Disciplines
Globalizing the Curriculum
Campus-Community Involvement
Student Civic Engagement at Home
and Abroad
Looking Within to See the World
Institutional Leadership
Shared Futures? The Interconnections
of Global and U.S. Diversity
Connecting the Global and the Local: The Experience of Arcadia University
Partnership in Education for a Sustainable Future
Student Experience
Engaging Diversity on the Homogeneous Campus: The Power
of Immersion Experiences
Resources
Crossing Borders: Interdisciplinary Centers and Global Learning
Resources for Shared Futures
Research
The Curricular Disconnect
 

New Global Studies Degree Combines Liberal Arts and Preprofessional Disciplines

By Noreen O’Connor, associate director of Web communications, Office of Communications and Public Affairs, AAC&U

As part of its goal to make the undergraduate experience more global, the Institute for International Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) has introduced an innovative new interdisciplinary global studies bachelor of arts degree that combines preprofessional courses with liberal arts courses. The program is intended to create “globally literate” students.

Tracks Lead to Preprofessional Competence

Initially conceived as a partnership between the School of Letters and Sciences and the School of Business, the program was later expanded with the input of over fifty faculty members from across the university. The new major will allow students to focus on one of five “tracks,” or field concentrations, that are designed to provide preprofessional competence and to prepare students to enter professional degree programs. Students receive a jointly conferred degree, from both the School of Letters and Sciences and the chosen preprofessional school. The five tracks are as follows:

Global Management—Engages students in issues of globalization for the private and public sectors, helps them understand the role that globalization plays in international economic development, and poses questions for business management in the global economy.

Global Cities—Encourages students to understand the global dimensions and local variations of urbanism and architecture, the history and economy of global cities, the causes and implications of urban growth, and international architectural design.

Global Classrooms—Prepares students to become globally literate educators able to research, develop, and teach curricula with an international dimension by emphasizing the study of foreign languages, cultures, and globalization.

Global Security—Examines issues that concern global security, including the causes and effects of migration, immigration, peace, and conflict; the environment; health and health care; ethnicity, culture, and national identity; and policy making and government, international law, and human rights.

Global Communication—Slated for fall 2005, this track will encourage students to consider technology’s impact on human lives on an international scale by investigating issues of language, culture, and identity in relation to technology, media, communications, information science, and technology transfers.

Interdisciplinary Core Curriculum Strongly Rooted in Liberal Education

“The liberal arts are central to the global studies degree,” says Patrice Petro, director of the Center for International Studies. The program curriculum is founded on the ideals of liberal education, providing courses that require a level of intellectual inquiry and critical thinking that is often missed in the practicum-based curriculum of preprofessional programs.
In addition, the program is strongly interdisciplinary, drawing faculty and themes from multiple fields of study. “The core courses are not owned by any one discipline, so the courses address issues across disciplinary divides,” says Petro. The newly created core courses, each designed to integrate at least three disciplinary approaches, ask both students and faculty to be versatile and creative as they engage with complex questions related to globalization and culture.

In the first two years, students take a three-course global studies sequence. The first course in this sequence, “People and Politics,” addresses global political, historical, economic, and cultural issues as well as demographic, linguistic, and cultural dimensions. The second, “International Trade and Environmental Change,” enables students to investigate the link between international trade and environmental change, the world economy and global monetary systems, the role of world organizations, and the political impact of global environmental change. The third, “Globalization and Information Technology,” focuses on contemporary issues in information technology, media convergences and divisions, and the global transfer of technology.
As a supplement to the core global studies courses, students enroll in four one-credit “Think Tank Learning Community” courses, which provide students opportunities for engaging their peers in projects related to current global issues and applying new knowledge in analyzing case studies. In addition, to prepare them to develop their own specific area of cultural expertise, all students take a “World Regions” course, which is an introduction to area studies that asks students to undertake in-depth work on geography, world politics, or world history.

Semester Abroad and International Internship Provide Cultural Immersion

In the spring semester of their junior year, after five semesters of language instruction, global studies students take a semester abroad that provides a true immersion experience in the student’s chosen language and culture. Often, students stay in the home of a local family while taking a semester of coursework taught in their chosen language. Students then typically remain in the chosen country for an international internship, working in a language immersion environment for six to eight weeks.

This time abroad allows students to build upon their classroom experience and apply their newly won knowledge in a real-world setting. “It is gratifying to see students address the whole question of what it means to be global in today’s world,” says Terence Miller, director of overseas programs and partnerships at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Capstone Project

Like all students in the UWM College of Letters and Sciences, students in the senior year of the global studies program undertake a capstone project. The project allows students to synthesize their four years of study into a practical and theoretical research project that addresses contemporary issues related to their chosen language, culture, and field of inquiry. For example, a student who has focused on the global security track, with a preprofessional emphasis on health sciences and a language and culture emphasis on Chinese, could produce a case study on avian flu in Hong Kong and its global implications. In this way, students in UMW’s global studies degree program demonstrate that they are prepared to engage the world as globally literate graduates and citizens.

Questions, comments, and suggestions regarding Diversity & Democracy should be directed to Kathryn Peltier Campbell at campbell@aacu.org.
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