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Program Stays on Top of the World

Global studies has been popular with students in its first year, with all classes filled to capacity.

It is the only place on campus where students can put together a program about globalization.

[This article was first published in the Daily Bruin. See also coverage by Harlan Lebo in the College Report.]

By Joanne Hou, Daily Bruin contributor

When Alisha Flecky, a third-year transfer student in global studies, came to UCLA earlier this year, she made a list of all the majors she would be interested in pursuing and discovered that global studies encompassed classes from all the disciplines she had listed.

In its first year of existence, the global studies interdepartmental program has been popular, with all global studies courses throughout the past three quarters filled to capacity.

Global studies looks at globalization in three main areas: culture and society, governance and conflict, and markets.

"It is the only place on campus where students can put together a program about globalization," said David Rigby, a geography professor who teaches a global studies course with two other professors. "It brings together different strands of globalization – different facets, perspectives together."

Global studies has drawn interest from many students since it deals with current issues that relate to students' lives.

"It meets a demand. It offers courses on topics that are part of a student's personal experience," said Nicholas Entrikin, chairman of the global studies interdepartmental program. "It also ties in with current events."

There are currently eight students enrolled in the major and 77 in the minor, with many other students in the process of completing the prerequisite courses.

But with the rewards that come with participating in a new program come challenges for both students and faculty.

Entrikin said global studies is a rigorous and structured major because it has courses that must be taken in sequence as well as a six-quarter language requirement, a summer study abroad component, and a 35-to-50-page thesis for seniors. Students in the global studies minor are not required to compose a senior thesis.

A highlight of the major for some students is the study-abroad requirement, for which students are expected to go to another country to see issues discussed in class from other perspectives.

"It's given me an excuse to travel," said Braden Weinstock, a fourth-year global studies student.

Being in the first class of global studies has perks as well. Unlike students in the well-established majors, global studies students have an opportunity to have a major impact on the course of the program in future years.

Victoria Zahn, a third-year global studies student, said though the students were the "guinea pigs" for the major, the opportunity to offer input to professors is "huge."

"It's nice to be on the forefront of a new department of academic inquiry," Flecky said.

Since the program is new, many people outside UCLA, such as employers, may not know anything about the major.

Weinstock said that when he talked to people about majoring in global studies, they "have absolutely no idea what that is."

He said that when he interviewed for an internship at the State Department, the interviewer had not been interested in his candidacy until he said he studied globalization.

But Flecky said what is most important is the degree from UCLA, and employers should understand global studies once she explains the program's nature.

There are also challenges for the faculty members involved in developing the new major, as courses in global studies are sometimes taught by teams of professors. Each lecturer has to adjust to the teaching styles of the other professors as well as integrate material from different disciplinary viewpoints.

There are also challenges in scheduling guest lecturers for Global Studies 1: "Introduction to Global Studies" because every time those classes meet, a new lecturer teaches.

Francoise Lionnet, a professor of French and Francophone studies and comparative literature who is organizing the schedule for Global Studies 1, said putting together the syllabus for the course was a "huge challenge." The class was the first official course in global studies.

Despite these difficulties, "it's very exciting for me because I learned a lot from other lecturers," Lionnet said. "I learned a lot from other disciplines."

UCLA International Institute