In spring 2019, Swarthmore will offer a new interdisciplinary Global Studies minor. Associate Professor of Political Science Ayse Kaya and Associate Professor of French Carina Yervasi, in collaboration with other faculty members, spearheaded the movement to make this minor a reality at the college. The minor hopes to start admitting students to its new intro class that will be offered next year.
“Global Studies is about the ways in which we consider the global,” Professor Carina Yervasi said. “An important point that we made when we put together this proposal was that Global Studies focuses not just on globalization, but global processes. When we put it together, we were thinking about the idea of global processes, global systems, global phenomena, the relationship between local and global.”
In the future Global Studies program, students will be able to take an intro class to Global Studies, which will give them the broad sense of how global processes and systems impact the world as well as the local culture. The student can then focus in on a specific culture in their sophomore plan, which outlines a set of courses that they will study in their next three years. The student proposes core courses that they will take, as well a language to fulfill the requirement of the minor. This pairing, called a Pathway, differs from a concentration in that the student will develop a question to explore through different courses. In their senior year, the student will then write a reflection on the discoveries made in the program that presents what their Pathway is and what they learned from reflecting on their initial sophomore plan, as well as their successes and failures.
“This all started when Ayse Kaya … came to see me to say that there are a lot of students who are interested in doing Global Studies,” Yervasi said.
Previously, students at Swarthmore could take Global Studies-related courses from existing departments at Swarthmore. Examples of such are internationally-focused political science courses or specific literature or arts courses such as “European Cinema” or “Asian Art.” Students could even create a special major in Global Studies, if they chose. However, there existed no organized program to pursue an education in Global Studies until now. In the future minor, students will be able to pair these courses together to further explore the question proposed in their sophomore plan.
“In the future, I really hope that the program will be able to offer different regional and topical areas of study for different people to dive into. I think that’s something that a lot of other Global Studies programs offer and it’s really interesting and useful because Global Studies is such a broad category that is necessary to narrow down and study what they want to study and do it with specificity,” said Arunima Shiney-Ajay ’20.
Student interest in Global Studies motivated Kaya to create a program and brought the idea to Yervasi.
“I was really interested in looking for a major that crossed disciplinary boundaries and that fell into the categories of what I was interested in, which at times were different interdisciplinary approaches of studying capitalism and the global economy but not just from an economical standpoint,” said Arunima Shiney-Ajay ’20, who had expressed interest in the program to Professor Kaya.
First, Kaya and Yervasi looked at the history of Global Studies as a program. The program started out in California, led by Professor Mark Juergensmeyer. He wrote “The Global Studies Reader” and also co-edited “Thinking Globally,” two books that the co-creators of the Global Studies referred to when creating the program. They also referred to existing programs across different peer institutions such as Williams College, which offers a concentration in Global Studies and Purdue University which offers a major in Global Studies. From this research, they created a proposal for a future Global Studies program as a minor.
Professors Kaya and Yervasi presented the proposal to the Curriculum Committee, which leads discussions on new majors and minors at Swarthmore. After deliberation, the Committee presented the new program to the faculty, who as a voting body decided whether to accept the new program at Swarthmore. “ [The faculty] had a vote in the beginning of this semester, and so the faculty accepted the program,” said Yervasi.
Yervasi and Kaya hope to see a high enrollment in Global Studies next year as well as to attract prospective students to the program.