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New department unveils academic goals

By Karen Augenstein, For The Miami Student

For Miami University students, gaining an international experience is no longer restricted to studying abroad. This semester, the College of Arts and Science unveiled the Department of Global and Intercultural Studies, weaving together six existing course areas to explore different aspects of global studies.

The department's chair, Jana Evans Braziel, hopes the wide array of subject matter will attract students.

"This major will foreground technologies, policies, ecologies, human relations and identities in a rapidly changing world," Braziel said. "We're not just interested in institutions but humans, such as migration, environmental justice and global sexual paradigms and justice for queer communities. It'll encompass a myriad of aspects."

The department is composed of six different courses: American studies, Asian American studies, black world studies, Latin American and Caribbean studies, international studies and women, gender and sexuality studies. Starting in December, students will be able to register for the course as a co-major.

Other departments, such as Media, Journalism and Film and Modern Languages, have worked with the new department to create a learning experience that explores many different cultures.

"The major appeal of global and international studies is that we're all aware that the world is rapidly changing, that technology, social media, the information technologies have exploded in ways that make us more interconnected. But even though we're so interconnected, we don't always understand each other," Braziel said.

Phyllis Callahan, the former dean of the College of Arts and Science, began developing the program three years ago. Callahan, along with several other departmental members, strived to create unity among the global studies courses.

"Since it's such an important area of study, the university decided that what was best was to bring them together and form synergies between them," said Chris Makaroff, the current dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Renee Baernstein, the associate dean of the College of Arts and Science, who has been affiliated with the creation of the Department of Global and Intercultural Studies, said she looks forward to the department's potential.

"The new Department of Global and Intercultural Studies brings together six pre-existing programs in interdisciplinary studies and adds to them," Baernstein said.

Global and Intercultural Studies is a compatible co-major to almost all areas of study. Students may use this program to expand their major on an international level.

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"We hope that students will see global and intercultural studies as a place that they can add to their existing degrees," Baernstein said. "We think it's going to be an exciting set of new options for students."

For Christina Ostrosky, a junior international studies major, the induction of the new department will benefit students of her major in addition to a wide variety of lesser known studies.

"There's a bunch of majors that don't really have a home in the College of Arts and Science, and the new department will give them a better way to organize and continue to grow," Ostrosky said.

Braziel believes that social media has made the world far more connected than ever before. The new Department of Global and Intercultural Studies allows students a way to interact and connect on a deeper level, immersing themselves in culture and policies they would have otherwise never known.

"For me, the main thing is that the world can be strange and foreign," Braziel said. "And to know the world, to be able to participate in cultural exchange and translation, will make us all better citizens in the world."