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International Studies Statement of Purpose

At Macalester, International Studies explores the dynamics of human encounter in the context of globalization. We take an interdisciplinary approach, drawing together the humanities, social sciences, fine arts, and the physical sciences, in order to examine how our increasingly globalized world not only connects people, but also highlights, threatens, polices and protects difference – and to what consequence.

This distinguishes us from many International Studies programs, which focus primarily on International Relations, a sub-discipline of Political Science.

Our interdisciplinary approach provides many entry-points and frameworks to study the global interconnections of politics, society, culture, economics, and ecology and the issues of difference they raise. We look at:

  • international law and governance
  • transnational economic systems
  • ecological globalization, and
  • flows of culture, people, texts, and ideas

To ground our study, we offer courses that delve into topics of global importance, including:

  • development
  • the environment
  • global health
  • human rights
  • media and cultural production
  • migration
  • world-spanning literature
  • post-colonial studies, and
  • contending ideologies of power, leadership, and identity

Our program is designed to give students the skills to understand and engage with issues across difference and around the world. Many of our courses are globally oriented, while our regionally specific offerings reach outward and provide analytical tools that can be applied to similar issues worldwide.

Within our major requirements, study abroad provides further opportunity to synthesize global and local issues, immersing students in a non-native place and the dynamics of cross-cultural encounter, and advanced language study develops cross-cultural and linguistic fluency. Finally, students develop scholarly depth through a five-course focus, familiarizing themselves with the literature, debates, and methods a discipline of their choice offers for studying international issues.

Through this integrative approach, International Studies majors are equipped to work constructively on issues in our complex contemporary world.