International Studies becomes a major at SU
After three years of planning, Shippensburg University is now offering students the opportunity to major in International Studies. The IS program has been in place as a minor at SU since 2001 and has been rapidly growing ever since.
The program is interdisciplinary, offering courses in a range of subjects including political science, criminal justice, history, anthropology, economics and English.
According to Jonathan Skaff, professor of history/philosophy and IS program director, the interdisciplinary nature of the program provides students with a holistic perspective of the world.
The diversity of courses offered also makes adding an IS major very possible.
“It’s a very flexible major,” Skaff said. “I think many students, especially arts and science majors may find it surprisingly feasible to do a double major.”
The program consists of two required courses equaling six credit hours. Students then choose a concentration in one of the following: Comparative and global cultures, global political relations or global business and economics. Each concentration consists of 12 credit hours.
In addition to a concentration, students also must select one of the following four area studies: African and Middle Eastern studies, Asian studies, European studies or Latin American and Caribbean studies.
If a student is interested in more than one area of study he or she can add a certificate in another area.
As of Aug. 20 there are six declared IS majors, including one incoming freshman. According to Skaff, many more have shown interest.
Junior Shelby Coghill is among the interested students. Coghill is currently minoring in IS and majoring in psychology. During her sophomore year, Coghill studied abroad in Spain, an experience she says she was prepared for.
“Courses from the minor helped me with the culture shock,” she said.
All IS major are required to study abroad or complete an internship related to international work.
Though she has already met the study abroad requirement, Coghill is also interested in IS internships, specifically advocacy work.
“I’m really interested in other cultures and human rights,” she said.
“I’d like to work abroad someday, too.”
Potential internships for IS majors are listed on the major’s webpage via SU’s website and include opportunities with The Washington Center, the United Nations and the Red Cross. “We’ve had students intern in New York City, Washington, D.C., and even U.S. embassies abroad,” Skaff said.
In preparing the curriculum the International Education Committee at SU researched similar programs at other PASSHE schools including Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Millersville University, Lock Haven University and California University of Pennsylvania.
“I think we have an excellent curriculum,” Skaff said. “We have a rich offering. One fourth of our faculty have international teaching or research experience. It’s a high quality program with high quality faculty.”
SU is the only IS program in the PASSHE system that has the study abroad/internship requirement.
Skaff recommends declaring an IS major to anyone interested in an international career or anyone looking to develop a better understanding of the