International and Area Studies program announces new global studies major

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Update 3/6/16: This article has been updated to reflect new information from IAS faculty and students. 

Several International and Area Studies, or IAS, majors are set to coalesce into a new global studies major by next year, with some courses planned to start by spring 2017.

Two IAS majors — peace and conflict studies and development studies — will become two of three tracks within the major, while Latin American studies, Middle Eastern studies and Asian studies will become three of five areas of studies, according to Associate Dean of the Division of Social Sciences Maximilian Auffhammer.

“Global Studies is more intellectually coherent than the current set of IAS majors,” said development studies co-chair Gillian Hart in an email. “(It) will provide students with vitally important skills for functioning effectively in today’s increasingly interconnected world.”

The three concentration tracks proposed are global peace and conflict studies, global development studies and global humanities and culture studies, with five areas of study focusing on various regions of the world, including the two newly created African studies and European and Russian studies.

According to Auffhammer, discussions between IAS chairs and faculty about creating a new global studies major began about seven months ago.

Intended and declared IAS majors, as well as incoming transfer students, will still be able to graduate with a degree in the majors joining the new program. Interested students, however, might be able to declare in global studies as early as summer 2017, Auffhammer said.

“Global studies creates synergy between social sciences, humanities (and) international and area studies,” said Alan Karras, associate director of the IAS academic program.

The proposed plan for the major includes critical thinking courses, global studies courses, discipline courses outside of the major, world history courses, electives and an optional capstone, among others.

Auffhammer said IAS faculty have overwhelmingly expressed their excitement for the new program.

“They’re all working very hard on the curriculum for global studies so this is very much a bottom-up way of creating a program,” Auffhammer said.

The consolidating of majors into a new major is not a cost-cutting measure in response to the campus’s growing deficit, according to Auffhammer. In fact, Auffhammer said, he foresees more resources possibly going toward the new program in the future. In addition to the major, a global studies minor is also planned.

Drawing from rigorous global studies programs across the country, the faculty plans to put a “Berkeley twist” to the new major, Auffhammer said, including a focus on the humanities and necessitating the major language requirement to the fourth level be associated with students’ area of study.

There are approximately 800 declared IAS major students, Auffhammer said, with about 400 students declared in the majors coalescing into the new global studies major. Political economy will remain a major outside of the new program.

Some IAS students, however, noted that the introduction of a new major might be unnecessary when many of the underlying themes and concentrations remain the same.

“I don’t understand why they’re trying to create a new major,” said Nicole Kim, a UC Berkeley sophomore. “I wouldn’t be interested in declaring this major because I’m already committed to my (peace and conflict studies) major.”

The new program still has to be reviewed by various campus administrators, Auffhammer said, but he’s optimistic that the program will be approved.

“We’re excited about this, I think this will be in the long run really great for the school,” Auffhammer said. “It’ll be a really, really great place for undergraduates to come and learn.”

The IAS department will be hosting a town hall Thursday for students with questions and concerns about the new major.

Staff writer Sooyoung Hu contributed to this report.

Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ayoonhendricks.