Message from the Director

Erik Owens

Erik Owens, Director

April 2020

Welcome, and thank you for your interest in the International Studies Program at Boston College. Founded in the mid-1990s, the IS Program has enjoyed remarkable growth in the past 10 years in particular. In 2018 we were cited in BC’s Strategic Plan as a key area of investment in its push to enhance global engagement, and we see the results of that investment in new faculty, expanded course offerings, and new opportunities for study abroad. The IS Program consistently ranks among the top 10 most popular majors and minors at BC in terms of size, with approximately 285 majors and 125 minors in 2020.

What makes our program special? When we survey students and alumni about the IS Program, they consistently highlight the fact that it is rigorous, flexible, interdisciplinary, and global.

The rigor in our program rests both in the structure and the content of our curriculum. Following a competitive application process for majors (applications are due February 1 each year), our challenging core courses provide a crucial interdisciplinary foundation for advanced work in a selected concentration. We require five more courses than most majors at BC, plus a higher level of language proficiency; a senior thesis or research seminar completes the major course of study.

Our flexibility shows in the many choices students have to develop their interests within one of four concentrations (Conflict and Cooperation, Ethics & Social Justice, Global Cultures, and Political Economy & Development Studies), and to focus their expertise within those concentrations by taking four clustered electives drawn from across the university that suit their intellectual interests and professional needs.

Our interdisciplinary curriculum regularly draws courses and faculty from more than ten academic departments across the Morrissey College of Arts & Sciences, and our four concentrations (noted above) are structured around interdisciplinary themes that require students to critically engage different ways of thinking and problem-solving on crucial issues.

Finally, our program is global, not just in the content of the coursework but also in the places our students study, travel, and work. Almost ninety percent of our majors study abroad as part of their academic program, and around 60% of our alumni report that they have undertaken substantial work or study outside the United States after graduation. 

Where will the International Studies Program take you? We can’t wait to find out.

Erik Owens

PS. Although COVID-19 began as a regional health crisis, it quickly spread in 2020 to become a global economic, political, and cultural crisis that will reverberate for decades to come. The IS Program was designed to apply rigorous interdisciplinary approaches to complex global dynamics like this, and to reflect on the most effective and just ways to respond in service to others. You can count on us to continue doing so, whether we are teaching (in the classroom or online), researching, or shaping the campus conversation about this and other issues.