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.