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GLS Curriculum

Core Curriculum

The foundation of the GLS curriculum is an eight-course core of small, discussion-based courses that equip students to write in numerous genres and contexts, acquaint them with foundational great works from around the world that remain influential today, introduce fundamental scientific concepts and methods, and involve them in close study of at least one region of the world. Students explore the development of cultures in contact with each other and the globlaized cultural currents of the present. Students also choose electives to refine their individual interests as early as the first year; they might begin more advanced study in their concentration by taking a Global Topics or Advanced Writing Studio course, learn more about the Global Studies landscape by taking the Understanding Global Studies elective, begin or continue language study, embark on a minor or second major, or simply pursue a personal interest.

Core curriculum requirements:

Courses taken in first year (read more about the Liberal Studies Writing, CF, and SF sequences)

  • Global Writing Seminar

  • Cultural Foundations I

  • Cultural Foundations II

  • Social Foundations I

  • Social Foundations II

Courses that may be taken any year:

  • Global Cultures

  • Physical Science

  • Life/Environmental Science

  • Electives*

*Electives may be upper-level or joint undergraduate-master's classes in the College of Arts and Science, or additional GLS electives, e.g. Principles of Macroeconomics or Principles of Microeconomics, or additional work toward an all-University minor, such as Pre-Business or a foreign language.

Upper Division Curriculum

The spine of the GLS upper division curriculum is the set of courses students take in their GLS concentration, which they formally declare in the fall of sophomore year. Students must take a minimum of four courses in their concentration (Approaches, Junior Independent Research Seminar, and the year-long Senior Colloquium/Thesis class); this sequence provides instruction that graduates in sophistication from sophomore through senior year in the theories and methods of a particular area of the Global Studies field. Students take greater and greater responsibility for directing their own independent projects, culminating in the senior thesis. In addition to their concentration-specific classes, students take a variety of required courses and electives whose topics span the breadth of global concerns, from economic and political issues to the world of arts and media, from the growth of immense global networks to the nature of ethnicity in everyday local life. These discussion-based, writing-intensive seminars require the completion of a significant research project. Upper division courses in the first two years prepare students to take best advantage of the experiences of their junior year of study at an international site by developing a detailed understanding of how the global and the local connect and intersect. In addition to the seminars, sophomores also begin an intensive language course in preparation for the junior year of international study.

Upper division requirements:

  • Sophomore Seminar: Approaches

  • Global Topics

  • Advanced GLS Elective**

  • Advanced Global Topics

  • Experiential Learning I and II

  • Junior Independent Research Seminar

  • Senior Colloquium (linked to thesis work)

  • Senior Thesis (linked to thesis work)

  • Senior Seminars (2)

**Students choose from Advanced Writing Studio, a second Global Topics course, Cultural Foundations III, or Social Foundations III.

Sophomore Seminar: Global Topics

Global Topics seminars are small, discussion-based courses that put topics of contemporary or historical interest into a global framework. They normally draw examples from several of the regions in which the junior year sites available for study are located, but their main purpose is to study the global networks that allow one to understand a specific topic across disparate places; they are not area studies courses, but courses in thinking globally. Emphasis is placed on students encountering the global in the University’s urban setting.

Sophomore Seminar: Approaches

Approaches seminars are discussion-based courses that acquaint students with the most influential theories and methods that inform the study of global issues and questions in their concentration. Approaches equips students with the means of analysis used in the specific areas of Global Studies that they will pursue in their advanced courses and independent work. Emphasis falls on current thinkers, practitioners, and methods, with some reference to their immediate antecedents. When students choose an Approaches seminar, they are making a commitment to pursuing the concentration in which the course is offered (similar to choosing a major, but less restrictive), since Approaches courses in different concentrations prepare students for different kinds of advanced analysis.

Junior Independent Research Seminar

The Junior Independent Research Seminar (JIRS) is a concentration-specific, two-credit class taken online during spring of junior year. It includes students in the same concentration from across the junior year sites, so that a student working on issues of, for instance, political economy in Buenos Aires will be literally comparing notes with a student working in the same field in Berlin. Under the guidance of a GLS instructor in New York, students provide online feedback to each other. JIRS helps GLS students prepare for the rigorous independent research they will conduct and present as seniors. Students use research and, when relevant, their own experiences at their junior year site to shape their topics and inform their work. In consultation with the instructor and in active communication with other students in the course, each student creates an annotated bibliography, an essay that might serve as a draft chapter of the thesis, and a prospectus outlining a potential thesis topic growing out of the essay. Students learn the methodology of writing in the disciplinary areas of their concentration.

Senior Seminars

Senior Seminars give GLS students an advanced understanding of a narrowly-defined aspect of global contact, encounter, or connection. Seminars are taught by faculty with specialized expertise in the course’s precise topic; often, the course relates to the faculty member’s own recent or upcoming scholarly publications. All Senior Seminars examine world-spanning issues and phenomena from a liberal arts perspective to provide a sense of the nature of globalization (whether past or present) unique to GLS. They are interdisciplinary both in the range of primary material they address and in synthesizing and applying secondary or theoretical sources from at least two different disciplines. The work students produce for the course is similarly global in scope, as well as interdisciplinary in approach and methods.

Senior Colloquium/Thesis

GLS emphasizes independent study throughout the program, and the senior thesis acts as the final realization of the goals of the degree. Seniors take a course associated with the thesis in each semester: the four-credit Senior Colloquium in the fall and the six-credit Senior Thesis in the spring. Each section unites students in the same concentration who have spent their junior year at various locations; thus, students gain a global perspective on their topics by drawing on the experience of their peers. The Colloquium/Thesis course offers grounding in the theoretical texts relevant to advanced work in the concentration, close guidance in the actual composition of the thesis, and practice in the oral presentation of complex ideas. The skills the Colloquium/Thesis course teaches – defining a major project’s parameters, testing concepts against actual experience, interpreting evidence and integrating the interpretations of prior thinkers, writing an extended argument – are germane to almost any future career.

GLS Concentrations

GLS upper division courses are organized into five concentrations. After finishing their core courses, GLS students may focus their studies in any of these areas; they are strongly encouraged to pick the majority of their classes (particularly the Approaches seminar, Junior Independent Research Seminar, and Senior Colloquium/Thesis) from a single concentration, but are free to take courses outside their concentration as well. GLS advisors work carefully with students to ensure that they choose a coherent set of courses focused on a concentration to realize their educational goals.

Arts and Literatures

The Arts and Literatures area concentration analyzes the role of the arts in the historical formation of a global world. We examine the myriad ways artists play a crucial role in constructing and critiquing ideas of a global human experience. We look at the arts as a powerful arbitrator of world ideologies and ask why art becomes one of the central mediators of the key issues of our times. Arts and Literatures treats artistic works as distinctive products of a specific time, place, and artistic genre, while we simultaneously investigate the arts as points of cultural contact, transmission, and interaction across civilizations. We approach the arts as a means of global conversation. We offer courses that introduce students to modern and contemporary critical theories in the Global Humanities, as well as courses that teach innovative and original methods of researching the field. Our courses take a comparative approach to a range of current cultural topics that have traditionally been considered beyond the scope of the arts. And they study the arts in relation to the ever-changing era of Globalization. In all our courses, students will study multiple media of artistic production from around the world – including literature, photography, fashion, visual arts, film, architecture, design, and music. For the thesis project of the senior year, students have the opportunity to produce a substantive body of scholarly writing, or they may produce an original creative work or an original translation with an accompanying scholarly introduction.

Contemporary Culture and Creative Production

How do we read, reflect upon, and shape contemporary culture?  This concentration examines people as agents in creating contemporary culture.  It synthesizes theory, context, and creativity, exploring a wide range of phenomena on the contemporary cultural landscape.  Areas of study span and connect creative writing, literary journalism, film, music, performance, aesthetic theory, social media, technology, architecture and urbanism, advertising, fashion, visual cultures such as photography, interface design, and television studies.  Approaches to these topics combine scholarly analysis with creative work, so that students both explore and practice the expression of meaning in current world media.

Identities and Representations

Terms like “us” and “them” imply divisions that must be bridged in a world where people, knowledge, images, and resources move across borders more quickly than ever. Identities and Representations provides the interdisciplinary tools of social and cultural analysis for doing advanced research on the way identities and their representations are formulated, distributed, and deployed around the globe.  Guiding questions like “what does identity mean?” and “how is identity legible?” lead to more advanced explorations into the social and cultural uses and ramifications of representations and identities.  Students explore from a variety of disciplinary perspectives (diasporic studies, ethnic studies, gender studies, sexuality studies, etc.) the complex relationships between identities, representations of identity, and labels denoting such categories as race, class, gender, nation, dis/ability, citizenship, and sexuality.

Law, Ethics, and Religion

The Law, Ethics, and Religion concentration challenges students to think critically about subjects in legal theory, history, philosophy, and religious studies. It places the interdisciplinary study of human values in historical context and addresses such questions as: How have states, political and religious establishments, social movements, philosophers, and religious thinkers articulated and instituted beliefs about the good, the right, and the just? What are the roots of contemporary legal systems and practices, such as common, civil, socialist, and religious law, and how does law advance or inhibit normative claims in particular cultures and societies? What is the morality of the way power is exercised politically, economically, religiously, culturally, and militarily? How have key historical figures contributed to the evolution of human values, from the ancient world to contemporary societies? What effect do religious doctrines, moral teachings, and rituals have on contemporary views of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation? What is the relationship among religion, the state, and the use of violence? How should contemporary societies deal with crime and punishment (e.g. the death penalty, mass incarceration, surveillance, policing, etc.)?

Politics, Rights, and Development

Politics, Rights, and Development examines the historical contexts and controversies surrounding social action: power and policy, justice and human rights, and economic and social development.  Questions are addressed in an interdisciplinary manner that combines political, economic, and cultural analysis to pursue topics in international relations; the many forms of imperialism; law, justice, and human rights; ethics and the conduct of war and peace; challenges of democratization, revolution, and social change; industrialization and globalization; and policies of health and the environment.  It studies the actions of governments, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in effecting or arresting change in these areas.