The global studies major is much more than a traditional list of courses to complete. It is a dynamic, unfolding, and individualized set of learning experiences, some occurring within a formal classroom environment and others within domestic and international field settings. Students complete more than half of the curriculum off campus through two field study programs: one in central Los Angeles (L.A. Term) and the other within Latin America, Africa, or Asia (Global Learning Term). In both settings, students are challenged to apply conceptual knowledge to an interpretation of complex social realities while living and learning in an unfamiliar milieus.
Students entering the global studies program are assigned a faculty advisor who serves as a resource guide, mentor, and friend. Students consider their general studies requirements in relation to the major, which unfolds in five phases.
Phase 1: Multidisciplinary Coursework
- Freshmen and Sophomores focus on General Education requirements
- Work with cultural mentor for six weeks
During Phase 1, students learn about themselves and the world by sampling the liberal arts (General Education), mixing with peers, and engaging with faculty mentors. A foundational course in the global studies major is GLBL 301 (3), completed during sophomore year. The course aims to equip students with a limited set of field-based culture-learning techniques they will use during the Los Angeles Term (Phase 2) and Global Learning Term (Phase 4). During this course, student pairs meet with a cultural mentor for six weeks, learning how to conduct interviews, compose field notes, synthesize cultural information, and write an interpretative ethnographic account. These skills are considered essential to managing intercultural encounters and maximizing learning while on L.A. Term and Global Learning Term.
Phase 2: Los Angeles Term
- Live one semester with a culturally different host family
- Intern with advocacy-oriented community organizations 12 hours each week, rely exclusively on public transportation
Los Angeles offers students a rich and deeply challenging context for world learning. For an entire semester, they live with culturally different host families in South Los Angeles, intern with advocacy-oriented community organizations, rely exclusively on public transportation, and complete 15 units of interdisciplinary coursework. The coursework is rooted in the disciplines of urban and transnational sociology, social anthropology and comparative religions, aimed at helping students to think systemically—to understand local realities as shaped by broader demographic, political, economic, and cultural systems that exist at regional, national, and global levels.
Phase 3: Pre-Global Learning Term Preparation
- Students complete courses that bridge the domestic, multicultural learning of L.A. Term with the international, cross-cultural learning of Global Learning Term.
- Students select a particular nation or world region for in-depth study.
Following L.A. Term, students return to campus where they complete a set of courses that bridge the domestic, multicultural learning of L.A. Term with the international, cross-cultural learning featured in Global Learning Term (GLT). During this semester, students select a particular nation or world region for in-depth study. GLBL 320 invites students to apply experiences and insights from L.A. Term to a distinctively Christian understanding of and response to community-based, global issues. In GLBL 305 students organize their GLT through an in-depth survey of “third world” realities and then set up field relations (community internships, family stays, research projects) at their destination site. Emphasis is placed on the ethical responsibilities of educational travelers. HIST 210 assists students in GLT preparations by familiarizing them with the physical and human characteristics of various world regions. Students also select a political science course that challenges them to consider how different political histories and economic realities shape the way citizens think and act.
Phase 4: Global Learning Term
- Students are immersed in an international cross-cultural setting for 6-7 months
- Students connect physically and emotionally with people through homestays, community internships, and field study projects focused on the struggles of marginalized groups of people.
Global Learning Term offers students complete immersion in an international cross-cultural setting. Students travel exclusively to Third World sites where they spend an average of six to seven months in order to facilitate intensive language learning and cultural adaptation. Students live with local families in marginal communities and complete contracted coursework in a self-directed manner. Although courses are completed in a self-directed mode, they are highly structured: each course includes a detailed field guide that provides step-by-step procedures that are executed within the local context. Students complete each of their study, service, and research projects under the combined direction of a faculty advisor and in-field guides.
Phase 5: Reintegration and Application
- Students reconstruct a new domain of moral responsibility in relation to the world.
- Students complete a capstone academic product, the senior thesis, and reflect on and project future plans for study, research, service, and employment.
Many students return home from Global Learning Term with life perspectives utterly altered. During reintegration, students focus on scrutiny and appreciation—of themselves, their home culture, and the larger world. Back on campus, they enroll in four final courses: GLBL 425 allows students to swap stories, assess changes in themselves, and begin exploring various ethical dilemmas related to how the world works. GLBL 465, GLBL 420, and GLBL 496 complement the reentry course by equipping students to reinterpret their relation to the world. During Senior Seminar, students complete a capstone academic product—the senior thesis. The thesis gathers the student’s insights and applies them to an interpretation of select global issues in light of the biblical teaching on shalom. Students reflect on and project future plans for continuing study, research, service, and employment. A final program evaluation marks the official end of their global studies journey.