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Letter from the Director of LAS Global Studies

I am delighted to write to you as the first faculty director of LAS Global Studies. My home department is Geography and Geographic Information Sciences where I have taught courses on environment and development, political ecology, and the global South since 1984.  Since I am a geographer, interdisciplinarity runs through my veins. I thus feel very much at home and excited about leading the Global Studies major.

Global Studies majors stand out in classrooms across campus for their interdisciplinary perspectives. Thanks to their language and culture courses and study abroad experiences, they approach complex global issues with sensitivity and personal insights. They have something to say and have firsthand knowledge to back it up.  These are the type of students we want in our classrooms. These are the types of individuals who are going to make a difference in the world.

My first year leading Global Studies has been very rewarding thanks to a wonderful staff that is working hard to enrich the major. We developed six new courses this year. At the 200 level we now offer Career Development: Internships (GLBL 225), a course designed to help students find internships within their area of concentration; a writing course titled First Person Global (GLBL 228) that encourages students to deepen their understanding of globalization by writing about their study abroad experiences; and Global Health (GLBL 240), a gateway course to the global health thematic area. An interdisciplinary team of faculty crafted two upper division courses focused on economic development: Poverty in a Global Context (GLBL 350) and Poverty Interventions and Evaluations (GLBL 450). And students can now receive credit for assisting faculty in their research projects by enrolling in GLBL 492: Faculty Research Assistance.

We also developed a new certificate program focused on international development. The Certificate in International Development Studies offers an interdisciplinary program of study focused on development theory and interventions. Global Studies is proud to offer this credential opportunity to students interested in a career in the field of international development.

Global Studies is currently collaborating with the Women and Gender in Global Perspective program to create a certificate program in global health. We are also taking the lead in developing a minor degree program titled Global Business Institutions and Society. We hope to have these two initiatives in place by the end of the 2014/15 academic year.

You can learn more about the many initiatives and programs that make LAS Global Studies one of the college’s most popular majors by visiting our website ( We will soon be launching a newly designed homepage which will have a section that is devoted exclusively to alumni. So please keep in touch. We would love to highlight how your Global Studies degree has contributed to any aspect of your life’s journey.

Barbara Hancin-Bhatt Reflects on How It All Started
LAS Leader Emily Newton displays the board signed by LAS students during I Love Illinois week.


As the former director of LAS International Studies, and later LAS Global Studies, I continue to be impressed by the program developments and the successes of its students.  In July 2004 when I took on the leadership of then International Studies, the program was 4 years old, and it was among the first multidisciplinary majors in LAS.  Our majors back then were students who had a fascination with cultures different than their own, curiosity about political, social, environmental and economic issues and events around the world, and a tremendous desire to be engaged at the international level.  The major did not yet have specifically required courses, rather options within the categories of Global Studies, Area and Language Studies, and a Professional, Technical or Scientific Core.  This allowed students many options for their program, and we often heard that students appreciated that the major was 'so flexible.'  The challenge, however, for students and our advising team was keeping each student's program of study thematically focused so that students were prepared in a particular topic or area beyond it being flexible. 

In AY 2006-07, my colleague Garett Gietzen and I conducted a study of peer programs from 14 other institutions and surveyed our then current majors. We discovered that a strength of our IS program was its required semester long study abroad in the language and culture of focus. None of our peers had such a rigorous requirement for language and culture, and we knew from student feedback that this requirement had a high impact on their learning. We also recognized that we could strengthen our major by offering a limited set of formal thematic tracks specifically derived from our faculty expertise and then introducing these thematic tracks through courses specially designed to do so. By offering courses specifically designed for our majors, we could not only introduce academic focus within the major, but also provide an opportunity for our students to meet and learn with other IS majors. Thus began the major curricular revision from International Studies to Global Studies.

The next years brought significant changes, including new courses specifically designed for the major, a more focused set of options for the thematic core, and a renewed commitment to the program's interdisciplinarity and language and culture emphasis. In addition, my new colleague, Nicole Lamers, and I realized the tremendous potential for developing students' inquiry-research skills within the major courses in preparation for a capstone research project that would help students pursue their topic of interest more deeply, while honing skills that employers and graduate schools valued. Thus was born the new set of GLBL courses, designed to introduce students to issues and challenges that have a global domain through inquiry-driven learning: GLBL 100, 296, 298, and the research methods courses of 200, 495, and 496. The curricular changes reflected a shift to recognizing a global domain and processes that have localized manifestations, thus the program became Global Studies.

The program continued to evolve through ongoing conversations with our students, alumni, Faculty Advisory Board, and new colleagues in the dedicated teaching and advising staff: Tim Wedig, Jill Capes, Laura Russ, Rohit Negi. We developed new courses to introduce thematic options within the major, created the Global Studies Leaders student group which served to provide ongoing student feedback, while also representing Global Studies at outreach events, and initiated our Annual Reception in which our advanced students present their thematic-based research topics and our faculty-led seminars abroad, GLBL 298s, display the results of their inquiry abroad.

In my current role as LAS' Associate Dean of undergraduate academic affairs, I look to Global Studies as a model program of study that provides the intellectual tools and mindsets necessary to thrive in today's world: inquiry-research skills, intercultural experience and skills, and knowledge of societal-level challenges that deserve our focus and action. These are highly valued knowledge, skills and mindsets in a world where technological innovation forces rather rapid change to our political, social, environmental and economic conditions. I remain impressed by our IS and GS majors who thrived in their political science courses next to political science majors, their economics courses, next to economics majors and so on, and then go on to become diplomats, teachers, business executives, physicians, lawyers, chefs and whatever else they choose to become. Our program has prepared students for life-long curiosity and resilience and the confidence to pursue opportunities that interest them. My former IS and GS colleagues couldn't be more proud.

You're Invited! U of I Homecoming Alumni Social for International Studies & Global Studies Alumni 10/24

Dear Global and International Studies Alumni,

You are invited to attend the annual Homecoming Weekend Alumni Social! Held this year on the evening of Friday, October 24th, this social will be a great chance to network with other alumni, current students, and staff. We hope to strengthen the overall International and Global Studies alumni community. Current students are eager to meet alumni for advice, mentorship, and career development. During the Alumni Social, you will also have the opportunity to see the Illinois Homecoming parade on Wright Street. Hors d'oeuvres will be served. 

If you’re looking for a chance to get back on campus (and see Alma Mater’s makeover) while enhancing your professional connections and showing your support for Global/International Studies, this is the perfect opportunity! We look forward to seeing you!


Ashley Luer | Alumni Outreach Coordinator

DATE: Friday, October 24, 2014

TIME: 6:00-7:30 PM

PLACE: University YMCA (Murphy Room), 1001 South Wright Street, Champaign, IL 61820-6285

There is no cost to attend, but please fill out this registration form by 11:59 PM on Tuesday, October 21 so we have an accurate count for the caterers. 

Hosted by LAS Global Studies and the Global Studies Leaders

A Message from Julie Chaps (2015) President of the Global Studies Leaders

My name is Julie Chaps and I am the President of the Global Studies Leaders (GSL) for the 2014-2015 school year. I am a senior year in Global Studies with a thematic area in Governance and Conflict Resolution. My regional focus is Western Europe and I studied abroad in Bologna, Italy for the Fall 2013 semester. 

During this school year, one of our important objectives is creating a stronger connection with our International Studies and Global Studies Alumni. But first, for those of you who do not know about GSL, we serve as ambassadors within our major's community. We also collaborate with the staff, mentor fellow students, and host various events on campus. Some of our events serve informational purposes such as the "Get to Know Global Studies" event we hold each semester, the Study Abroad Panel, the Internship Panel, and the Global Studies Reception. In addition, GSL hosts more informal events like our Fall Kick-Off, Homecoming Alumni Event, Potlucks, and the End of the Year Picnic to further strengthen the Global Studies community on campus.

The Global Studies program is represented in a large variety of fields and concentrations. I take great pride in being a Global Studies major because our diverse interests in various concentrations makes us a more experienced and knowledgeable community.

Because of these many different interests, I understand that many of our alumni are spread across the world. Therefore, I highly encourage everyone to join our Linkedin group if you have not already done so. Hopefully with increased communication in this group we may all use it as a beneficial networking tool between alumni and current students. In addition, if any alumni are ever close to the Urbana-Champaign area, or are feeling especially nostalgic, there are opportunities for you to participate at our events such as the Homecoming Alumni Event or Internship Panel.

Thank you for your time and I hope to see you all on the Linkedin group or at one of our events!

Best regards,

Julie Chaps

GSL President 2014-2015

Global Studies by the Numbers

The LAS Global Studies Program has approximately 250 majors and 30 minors. International Studies and Global Studies has graduated over 900 majors todate. 

Statistics on current LAS Global Studies majors:

Thematic Areas

35% Governance, Conflict and Resolution

23% Knowledge, Communication and Information Systems

14% Wealth and Poverty

8% Cultures in Contact

8% Human Rights

7% Environment, Sustainability, and Social Responsibility

5% Global Health

Language Studies

37% Spanish

20% French

14% Chinese

8% Arabic

5% German

5% Japanese

5% Korean

3% Italian 

2% Portuguese

<1% Farsi

<1% Polish

<1% Russian

<1& Swahili


44% Western Europe

21% East Asia

21% Latin America

5% Middle East

4% North Africa

4% Sub-Saharan Africa

2% Russia and Eastern Europe


Thank you for reading the LAS Global Studies alumni newsletter!

We hope to see you on Friday, October 24th for the Homecoming Alumni Social for International and Global Studies Alumni. 

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