Major created to serve students’ global interests

By Rebecca Sweeney

John Conaway wanted to major in political science before his summer advising conference, but by the end of the weekend, he’d changed his mind.

“I found out that the international studies major was starting. It seemed to have so many different options, so I switched,” said Conaway, an international studies freshman.

The international studies program began last semester, and there are currently 76 students enrolled in the program, of which about 12 are double majors, said Monica Udvardy, the director of the new program.

“Considering that we have not even broadly advertised the major yet, this is a considerable number of majors and double majors,” said Udvardy, who is also director of undergraduate studies in anthropology.

UK offers a foreign language and international economics major but it does not cater to students interested in examining subjects in a global perspective, such as culture, human rights, international relations or the environment, Udvardy said.

“The international studies program was started to prepare interested UK students to function and to excel in a global world, with a strong emphasis on study abroad,” Udvardy said. “We’re very excited about this major as a component of our overall drive toward internationalization here at UK.”

Steven Hoch, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, started a similar international studies major at the University of Iowa before coming to UK.

The program was constructed to be flexible and open to catering to students’ interests, Hoch said.

“I’m really excited we have this major,” he said. “I’m in my fifth year here, and I thought we should start an international studies major here in the beginning.”

Emily Beaulieu, an assistant professor of political science, has a bachelor’s degree in international studies from the University of Washington and said she is pleased with her undergraduate experience in the field.

“I had a number of interests in college, and could not choose one particular discipline, Beaulieu said. “Plus, I knew I was interested in learning more about other countries and cultures. With my (international studies) major, I got the broad exposure that an undergraduate education is meant to provide while continuing to develop my interest in things international.”

Melanie Fahrbach-Staats, a first-year international studies major, has a military background and said topical studies drew her to UK.

Fahrbach-Staats decided to major in international studies as soon as she found out about the program because it suited her interests, she said.

“I am very appreciative of the diversity of the curriculum in international studies because it allows you to branch out in so many different ways,” she said.

During the College of Arts and Sciences Geek Week, the department of international studies will give a presentation and answer questions on the major Feb. 19 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in room 230 of the Student Center.