UW news blog
September 21, 2022
A new major at the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies offers more flexible course options, allows students to focus on a specific geographic region and topic, and offers more choices for the graduate experience.
The Jackson School announced a Global and Regional Studies major in August 2021, starting in the fall. It replaced the pure application study International Studies or general major. Global and Regional Studies is an open degree, meaning there is no application process and students with good academic standing can declare it at any time. This makes it easier for transfer students to get into the major as soon as they arrive at UW.
“Given our focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, we have decided that an open enrollment policy is best for our students,” said David Bachman, professor of international studies and associate director of undergraduate programs.
“In the new major, we emphasize both the connections between the global and the thematic in international society or in countries and regions. This allows us to look at issues like cyber security or conspiracy theories both in general and in regional contexts.”
Students choose to focus on one of five themes: culture, power, and religion; environment and health; rights and movements; states and markets; or technology security and diplomacy. You also select a region: Africa; America; Arctic; Asia; Europe; Middle East; or Russia/Eastern Europe/Central Asia.
“These themes align with the interests of our students,” said Britta Simon, director of academic services at the Jackson School. “This is the Jackson School’s response to students. We reflect on what they want to do and what motivates them. Increasingly, we see students saying, “I see climate change as a global catastrophe. what causes it What can we do against it?'”
As part of this focus, the Jackson School hired its first faculty member dedicated to environmental justice research and teaching. Danya Al-Saleh will start as Assistant Professor of International Studies in the fall quarter. Her first course “The University and Climate Justice” will deal with the responsibility of universities for climate protection and adaptation to climate change.
“This reflects a shift in international studies,” said Simon. “These topics are aligned with what faculty members see as important topics about problems that need to be solved. Students with these passions and skills are also highly employable.”
The Major is highly customizable, Simon said. With 20 fewer required credits than before, students can now choose more courses that match their individual interests and career goals.
Global and Regional Studies also offers expanded options for a final experience, the senior year independent project. One of these is the Donald C. Hellmann Task Force program, in which students work in small groups to examine policy issues and make policy recommendations.
“For many years, our students viewed task force as the pinnacle of their major,” Bachman said. “Students are given a political issue, and we have faculty members who oversee classes but don’t conduct practical classes. The students organize themselves and develop a strategy paper and background material. The students then present this to an outside expert, who challenges them to the recommendations and gets them to defend their conclusions.”
In the new major, students can choose between task force and one of two writing-intensive options that offer more individual writing rather than group work. One of the individual writing seminars focuses more on the academic reading and writing of large texts, while the other focuses on writing and editing texts for a public audience.
“It teaches students how to write for the public — say, a blog or a newspaper — rather than writing an academic paper,” Simon said. “It’s a completely different communication skill. If students want to develop their voice to speak in front of the public, this would be the way for them.”
The International Studies course or general course is no longer accepting applicants.
For more information, contact Bachman at [email protected] and Simon at [email protected]
Keyword(s): Britta Simon • College of Arts and Sciences • Danya Al-Saleh • David Bachman • Global and Regional Studies • Jackson School of International Studies