"This is an academic program that is so central to the mission and strategic plan of the university," said George Hudson, professor of political science, department chair and director of Wittenberg's Russian and Central Eurasian Studies Program. "It is distinctive because it is so rigorous, and it is the logical culmination of an emphasis on international education and a variety of collaborative efforts on campus."
Hudson is one of several Wittenberg faculty members who saw a need and stepped in to fill it. But these individuals, including Associate Professor of Languages Tim Bennett, Associate Professor of Economics Larry Gwinn, Professor of Management Wayne Maurer, Associate Professor Languages Christine McIntyre, Professor of Political Science Bin Yu and Associate Professor of Languages Lila Zaharkov, didn't just design a new curriculum during the last two years of planning. They have poured their hearts, souls and minds into creating a program that Hudson calls "bold" and "strongly interdisciplinary."
The major will offer three educational "tracks" – diplomacy, international economics, and global issues and cultures – that will prepare Wittenberg students for exciting careers and top graduate programs. It will have an emphasis in the foreign languages, including a requirement of fluency in at least one language other than English.
"Consultants who reviewed the program saw its emphasis on foreign language and using language as a lens to understand better world cultures to be one of the new major's greatest strengths," Bennett said.
Revisions to the existing Global Studies program have helped shape the International Studies major/minor, including new foundational courses, greater emphasis on international experience and foreign languages, and the introduction of a new 300-level topics course that will count on faculty participation campus-wide. International Studies 300 will vary from year to year, but topics can include everything from global immigration issues, world cultures and cultural production, to international environmental studies, including botany or human disease.
The new degree program will replace the Global Studies program, although one of the tracks in the International Studies major/minor will be advised by McIntyre, who has previously served as the program's director. She has found great enthusiasm and interest among prospective students in presentations made at recent admission-initiated academic showcases.
One student who said she would have signed up for an International Studies major is Springfield, Ohio, resident Stephanie Tirey, who is studying at Wittenberg through the School of Community Education. Tirey's father is retired from the United States military, and she spent most of her formative years in Germany before moving to Springfield in 2002.
After earning associate's degrees in science and the arts from Clark State Community College, Tirey has excelled at Wittenberg as a German major while also making the most of a co-op employment opportunity at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in nearby Dayton. Tirey, who will graduate in May, thinks the new academic program will increase co-op and internship opportunities for Wittenberg students.
"It's a natural next step for Wittenberg," said Tirey, who works in foreign military sales at Wright Patterson's Air Force Security Assistance Center. "It's just a fantastic idea. I would have definitely added International Studies as a second major if I had the chance."
Written By: Ryan Maurer
Photo By: Erin Pence
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