International Studies 101

INST 101: Introduction to International Studies

Credit Hours: (3)

An introductory survey of international issues, emphasizing the cross-disciplinary nature of International Studies. This course has been approved for General Education credit in the International and Intercultural Studies Area of the curriculum.


Detailed Description of the Content of the Course

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to a wide range of international issues, emphasizing the cross-disciplinary nature of International Studies. Although the course will be coordinated by one faculty member, faculty from a variety of disciplines may participate in the course as guest experts. On occasion the course could also be team taught. Faculty drawn from disciplines as broadly ranging as Anthropology, Art, Biology, Business, Economics, Education, English, Foreign Languages & Literatures, Geography, History, Nursing, Philosophy & Religious Studies, Political Science, Social Work and Sociology could be involved in the course. The coordinator will begin the course with an introductory overview and conclude with a cross-disciplinary synthesis. Although some discretion is offered to the individual instructor, the following are topics most likely to be included in the course content.

I. Introduction: the cross-disciplinary nature of International Studies
II. Understanding and Appreciating Other Cultures

  • What is culture? How and why do cultures vary?
  • Recognizing Cultural Prejudices
  • The Inter-relatedness of Language and Culture
  • Learning Cultural Appreciation through the Arts
  • The Threat of Globalization

III. The World Economy

  • Origins and Development
  • Rich vs. Poor countries
  • The Changing International Economic Order

IV. Geopolitics and a Changing World Order

  • Non-Western Centers of Power in the Past
  • European Colonialism
  • Cold War Geopolitics
  • Post Cold War Changes

V. Environmental Issues: Problems Without Borders

  • Over-consumption of Natural Resources
  • Pollution of Air, Water & Soil
  • Global Warming and Its Potential Impact
  • Biodiversity and its Preservation
  • Toward Sustainable Economic Development

VI. International Law & Organizations

  • Survey of Major Laws and Organizations
  • Do They and Can They Work?

VII. Challenges of Education and Health in an International World
VIII. Focus: A Cross-Disciplinary Synthesis of One Current International Issue


Detailed Description Conduct of the Course

The class format will likely follow a combination of lectures, informal discussions, guest speakers and audiovisual and electronic media presentations. Lectures and discussions may focus upon assigned readings and relevant materials drawn from media presentations of current world events. The frequency and variety of examinations and writing assignments will be determined by the individual instructor. The course will likely provide ample opportunity for students to explore the world and relevant issues through integration of electronic media.


Goals and Objectives for the Course

Students in INST 101 will develop not only an awareness of, but a concrete understanding of, the variety of world cultures that exist in the world today and the threat posed by globalization to those unique cultures. In addition they will acquire a basic understanding of international issues that are relevant to their own lives and opportunity to think about their response and the range of solutions that might be available.

Broad General Education Goals

  • Students will be able to identify important global issues, demonstrating an understanding that the methodologies, technologies, and stores of knowledge from many disciplines can be utilized in solving these problems.
  • Students will be able to frame logical and persuasive arguments for solving international problems while at the same time appreciating the "constructs" and "logic" of alternative solutions derived from other cultures.
  • Students will be able to employ various technologies to gather, organize, and analyze information relative to particular global issues, and at the same time, share their conclusions with others while remaining open to alternative ideas. The Internet naturally creates great potential for promoting such interaction across cultures.
  • Students will come to a better understanding of themselves and their personal values in the process of examining the values of other cultures. They will appreciate the fact that other cultural values may be equally legitimate and practical in their own contexts. Students will be able to examine at a personal level the ethical and moral aspects of various cultures.

Goals for Area 5- International and Intercultural Studies

  • Students will possess a general sense of culture in all its various aspects (political, economic, social, etc.), both their own and that of others, and be able to characterize the various elements that define and differentiate it.
  • Students will understand how and why stereotyping, ethnocentrism, and prejudice evolve at both societal and individual levels and the steps that can be taken to recognize and combat them.
  • Students will see and appreciate the role that language plays in shaping their own world views and values and of other cultures. Additionally students will appreciate that worldviews can also be expressed both implicitly and explicitly through the "language" of the arts and humanities.
  • Students will display an awareness and basic knowledge of global issues, demonstrating understanding of how those issues both unite and differentiate the world community, as we all struggle for just and realistic solutions.


Assessment Measures

Students may be graded using any or all of the following measures: in-class or take-home examinations, oral presentations, term papers or projects, journals and/or other forms of informal writing. Since the course is designed to be highly interactive, class attendance and participation are encouraged, and the individual instructor may choose to include them as graded components of the course. The measures indicated will be oriented to a determination of the progress and success that students are having in meeting the General Education goals and the specific International and Intercultural Goals as outlined in Section D above.

General Education Goals: Exams, both in and out of class, help to measure the degree and depth at which students have grasped both the content and ideas of the course. Various oral and writing assignments help to assess whether students are able to raise questions on their own or address those raised by others, and approach those problems interdisciplinarily. Assignments crafted to get students to explore websites, search out information, or establish intercultural contacts point to their ability to make use of appropriate computer technology and to interact with others in shared inquiry and problem-solving.

International and Intercultural Studies Area: Oral and writing assignments, both formal and informal, measure a student’s understanding and awareness of specific global issues. An analysis, by instructors and students alike, of the words, phrases and concepts used by a student to describe his/her own culture and that of others indicates that students are developing a more sophisticated understanding of how language helps shape views of themselves and of others. Writing and discussion, based on texts and videos from other cultures, help assess whether students are able to identify and analyze differences and similarities among cultures. Changes in attitudinal perceptions can also be assessed by informal conversation with the student or by analyzing their writing over a period of time.


Other Course Information



Review and Approval
Sept 1999 Syllabus revision Charles W. McClellan