Departmental Spotlight: International Studies

The International Studies Department has offered a minor since the ‘80s, but since it began offering a major in 2006 (concurrent with the establishment with the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs) it has become a successful and meaningful part of the College of Charleston’s landscape. This rigorous major (requiring 3+ years of foreign language, as well as a study or internship abroad experience) plays an important role in furthering the internationalization goals of the LCWA and the College. There are five concentration options, four of which are region-specific (Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America & the Caribbean); the fifth is International Comparative Literature.

In 2013, the International Studies Department graduated 40 majors, including an inGenius! participant, a winner of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, a Finalist for the Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics Essay, a recipient of the Freeman-ASIA Scholarship, and a Truman Scholarship Finalist. One of these graduating seniors is Elliot Dickerson. After taking courses in Mandarin Chinese, Elliot studied Chinese politics, literature and religion. One summer, he set off with a political science professor and a handful of other students for Cambodia and Vietnam, where the group examined non-government organizations by spending time at an orphanage for HIV-positive children. He then returned to the College to study Chinese drug-smuggling policies, and for his independent study he examined the perception of important issues in Chinese films. His experiences reflect the goal of the major. “I feel like I can do anything with a degree in international studies,” Elliot says. “You develop a comprehensive understanding of the world that can be used in business, economics, literature, or whatever you want to immerse yourself in after graduation….this is a really useful major because it’s so versatile.”

This interdisciplinary major offers a comprehensive study of global culture. To that end, there are many study abroad opportunities, with programs that travel to Cuba, Germany, Argentina, India, Chile, France, Cambodia, Russia, Peru and more. Students travel with professors of all disciplines: art history, anthropology, economics, philosophy, religious studies, and political science, to name just a few! Students also have the opportunity to participate in the Model UN, Model OAS, and Model AU to deepen their understanding of international organization.

In an increasingly globalized world, International Studies majors have a richer perspective as global citizens and, more importantly, they graduate with the skills that let them take action in the international sphere. To learn more about the undergraduate requirements and the diverse faculty of International Studies, visit their website or peruse their blog.

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