New Global Affairs Major and Minor Take Off

Posted: July 27, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

Last fall, the Office of the Provost began offering a new interdisciplinary BA in Global Affairs, with a minor option added in spring 2004. So far, the major has attracted 83 students and will graduate its first cohort next spring.

Johanna Bockman
Johanna Bockman

“The global affairs major was created because of George Mason’s and Provost Peter Stearns’ commitment to providing students with a global perspective and because of the perceived demand among the students for an international studies-type major,” says Johanna Bockman, the program’s director. “The global affairs minor provides a global perspective to complement other majors. The curriculum examines global trends and debates from many different angles: political, economic, cultural, environmental, and others.”

The major incorporates courses from many different university departments, with 18 credits of required core courses. Students within the program are also required to take an additional year of foreign language study beyond the requirements that all those working toward a baccalaureate are expected to fulfill. The additional language training will “greatly help global affairs majors on the international job market,” says Bockman.

The major program also enables and encourages students to study abroad and work at various internships, including those offered through the Center for Global Education. Course credits from these activities can satisfy some of the major requirements.

Global affairs majors are expected to declare a single general area of focus and then complete 12 credits of core courses in their specialization area. Among the available options are concentrations in the Middle East and North Africa, world arts, Russia and Central Asia, Europe, the environment, global economy and management, and global communications and technology. Students are also able to develop an individualized concentration.

Because of its interdisciplinary nature and the large number of elective credits it will accept, the global affairs major is also easily integrated as a double major, along with traditional programs of study such as history, economics, and government and international politics.

“I decided to enroll in the global affairs program because it is such an interdisciplinary program. I also enrolled because I am highly interested in international issues and problems and know that one day I want to work in an international field,” says global affairs major Amanda Agan, who has a minor in economics. “Its key strength is definitely the diversity of course work. Another strength is the advisor, Johanna Bockman. She is always willing to listen and help students with course questions and requirements. She, and the program itself, can be flexible with requirements where the need arises.”

“Since I’ve always wanted to use my Spanish experience to [be a correspondent] somewhere in Latin America, I chose the global affairs major,” says Joel Inwood, who has a minor in Spanish. “I met someone who had worked at the Washington Post who told me that it was better to specialize.” Formerly enrolled in public and international affairs, Inwood especially likes the global affairs program’s emphasis on cultural topics.

As part of the Global Affairs Program, a series of brown bag lectures, presented by various George Mason faculty members on their individual research interests, is scheduled for the fall.

For more information on the global affairs major and minor, see the web page.

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