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Majoring in the Entire Globe: LVC’s International Studies Program
02.13.14 |

Visiting a foreign country is an excellent way to begin developing a global perspective, but some LVC students opt to focus their entire undergraduate careers on expanding their intercultural competence. To that end, Dr. Christopher Dolan, associate professor of political science, launched the College’s international studies major in 2010.

“We wanted to develop a globally oriented, interdisciplinary academic program that would serve as a major for students,” said Dolan, who now directs the program. “Studying the world is absolutely essential—it always has been. But what’s really exciting about the program is its emphasis on beyond-the-classroom assignments where students can gain hands-on skills.” International studies majors are required to participate in at least one study-abroad experience, study a foreign language to an advanced level, and engage in undergraduate research or an internship in addition to their designated coursework. Only four years after being instituted, the program already has become quite popular, approaching 30 majors on campus this fall.

As Dolan designed the major, he spent two years researching how other colleges organized their programs. “I noticed that many of them just required students to take a certain number of core courses and elective courses,” he said. “Our program is unique because students can do original research as co-authors with a professor. It emphasizes teamwork, communication, and having to work with different kinds of people—that’s been an eye-opening experience for students.” The research component presents unique opportunities for undergraduates. “I’ve had a lot of students go to academic conferences to present research, both with me and on their own,” Dolan noted. Research projects focus on global issues such as poverty, human rights, and the international economy. Last fall, Katheryn O’Hara ’15 was one of four international studies majors to participate in undergraduate research in partnership with Dolan. They presented their research at the International Studies Association Northeast Conference in Maryland last November, presenting before a panel of professionals and experts.

“The International Studies Program has been life-changing for me,” O’Hara said. “Dr. Dolan is an inspirational mentor who pushes all his students to think bigger and broader. He’s challenged me to be innovative, pensive, to ask questions, and never be satisfied with the status quo. My education within this program has been the perfect example of the high-impact learning that our College strives to provide.”

Dolan described his experiences designing LVC’s International Studies Program in “From Scratch: Designing and Implementing a New International Studies Program at a Small College,” published in 2011 in the academic journal International Studies Perspectives.

“It’s the relationship between study abroad, research, and the internship that is really aiding students in the employment market and for graduate school applications too,” he said. LVC’s international studies majors have gone on to graduate programs at American University, the New School, and the University of San Francisco as well as work with organizations as far abroad as Kosovo, China, and the Netherlands.



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