International Studies Now a Major

International Studies Now a Major

By Sean Smith
Chronicle Editor

When Katrina Brown '04 got to the end of her high school days, she had "no idea" what she wanted to do next.

But a year in Argentina through a student exchange program sparked her interest in international affairs, which she further explored during her freshman year at Boston College.

Assoc. Prof. David Deese (Political Science): "Establishing an International Studies major is an important means to attract the top undergraduates for whom we are now competing." (Photo By Justin Knight)
Now, Brown is among a group of potential candidates hoping to enroll in the University's new interdisciplinary major in International Studies. Administered through the College of Arts and Sciences, International Studies will begin as a three-year pilot program with approximately 20 students each from the classes of 2004, 2005 and 2006.

"I want to be able to travel as part of my work, whatever it might be, and this major would enable me to do almost anything," said Brown, a native of Petoskey, Mich. "But what I really like about the International Studies major is how it relates to so many areas I want to study."

Administrators say the new major offers undergraduates a more integrated framework of study that encompasses disciplines such as economics and political science, and is distinguished by a Jesuit and Catholic perspective. Students could put the degree to use in public policy, international relations, overseas development or other fields.

"Although we have had independent majors in international studies for years, the program has now both formalized and improved," said A&S Dean Joseph Quinn. "The major is the result of a full year of planning by faculty from several departments, and it capitalizes on many strengths we already have in the College.

"In a rapidly shrinking world in which more Boston College students are seeking international experiences each year, we are certain that this major will fill an important need. We will continue to fine-tune the program as we proceed."

A&S Associate Dean Carol Hurd Green added, "Understanding global issues relates to the broader social justice mission of Boston College."

The major will consist of 15 courses, with a seven-course core component that includes Ethics, Religion and International Politics, a class developed by Flatley Professor of Catholic Theology David Hollenbach, SJ. It also will feature a senior year research and writing project.

Assoc. Prof. David Deese (Political Science), who is director of the major, said the addition of International Studies will strengthen the University academically while bolstering its efforts in the international forum - both key priorities in the 1996 University Academic Planning Council's report.

"Establishing an International Studies major is an important means to attract the top undergraduates for whom we are now competing," he said. "While it has been possible to construct a range of courses as an independent major in the past, that is not the same thing as having a coherent slate of courses linked across disciplines."

Deese said one expected outcome of the major will be "a stronger correlation between what students do here at BC and what they do in life." He noted that International Studies majors can have the option in senior year of working under a Faculty Undergraduate Research Fellowship, or a writing-internship experience patterned after the PULSE program.

"Constructing a major is a big undertaking," he said. "We are fortunate in that we can build on current faculty and curriculum, instead of having to start from scratch."

Information about the major is available at /isp, or through program adviser Linda MacKay at


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