International Studies: George Washington, American, Goucher and George Mason
As a follow-up to last month’s article on international studies majors, here is an overview of additional Washington, DC-area universities offering programs.
The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs offers its students access to career coaches who have experience in international issues. They bring employers to campus to discuss jobs and internships and sponsor panel discussions of professionals from organizations such as the state department and the intelligence community (National Security Advisors, Homeland Security, CIA), as well as policy experts. Easy access to internships, where credit can be earned, is what makes the GW major distinct. Students choose from among 14 concentrations within the major. A new global bachelor’s program sends 15 students to study in China, and they can opt for two additional abroad semesters with one being an internship. Three years of foreign language study is required though students can waive out with AP or Subject tests scores and are not required to pass a proficiency test.
An impressive student panel shared their experiences at Elliott. One studied trafficking of nuclear material as an intern last summer with University of Maryland. He submitted his report to the Department of Homeland Security, which took the deficiencies that had been identified seriously. Another interned with the Scottish Parliament, researching incarceration and why Scotland has the highest recidivism in the world. An IR major with a public health concentration worked at an NGO in Senegal where climate change is having an impact, and they are working with citizens on access to technology such as cook stoves and sustainable agricultural practices.
Students are drawn to the American University School of International Service because they seek the excitement of Washington, DC, the internship opportunities and the beauty of a green, suburban campus. Three years ago the curriculum was completely redesigned as faculty realized that most interested in the major knew they wanted a global education, but did not really understand the issues behind international studies. Students take a first year seminar, as well as a required sophomore research methodology course and a senior capstone that mirror each other to help the student build deep expertise on issues. The goal is to get students to think about interests and be deliberate about their choices, from being better prepared to take higher-level courses, to doing better quality research and finding meaningful internships.
There are eight thematic areas in the major with Peace, Global Security and Conflict Resolution, and Global Inequality and Development being the most popular. 85 percent of SIS students study abroad, and they must have the equivalent of two college years of foreign language. If they place out by exam, one additional content-based class such as French poetry is still required.
Goucher College in Maryland has a dynamic president, Jose Bowen, who is committed to providing an education where students comprehend content in a way that will enable them to succeed 25 years from now and have the resilience to adapt in a shifting world.
At Goucher, international relations is an arm of political science. It is interdisciplinary, drawing from economics, languages, anthropology, sociology, women’s studies, and peace studies. IR majors must study abroad for a whole semester as opposed to the minimum Goucher College requirement of three weeks and must pursue a language at a higher level than the overall college requirement. They have the option to complete a senior thesis. Students complete research and internships globally—one interned at the Mexican Embassy in Paris, while also studying French. Another completed an independent study, working with a faculty member in Indonesia on LGBT issues there.
George Mason offers a BA in integrative studies with a concentration in international studies. They encourage research; students can apply for stipends or earn credit, working on faculty research or choosing an independent project supervised by a faculty member. Students can focus on business, conflict transformation, or a specific geographical area: Africa, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, or Southeast Asia. They also offer an accelerated masters in IS. George Mason has drawn students regionally though its current freshman class has 22% of its students from out of state. Still, some report that the weekends are quiet so out-of-state students should evaluate this if they are interested in the university.