A degree in International Studies provides the knowledge and skills employers in a variety of fields are looking for in those they hire. In the International Studies Department at USF we are always working to improve our curriculum to better serve our students to this end. Professor Dana Zartner, Chair of the International Studies Department, recently worked with members of four other International Studies programs around the country to brainstorm some best practices for creating success for our students. The results of their work were recently published in International Studies Perspectives, which is linked below. We’d love to hear from you – what other best practices can you think of?
As the MAIS Team continues to prepare for the incoming F17 cohort, we turn to current student, Gideon, to hear about his experience as an international student in the program and #WhyMAIS was the right choice for him
What attracted you to USF and the MAIS program?
It had everything I wanted to learn about. I actually chose USF because of the content of the program -– development, environment, human rights, and similar focuses. I hadn’t done a lot with human rights, academically, so that was actually one of the main attractions.
The program is interdisciplinary, and I appreciate the anthropological approach as well. They want you to understand the real world to some extent. To not just get an idea of how it is, but get some kind of practical case studies, which is helpful to me.
Describe your first semester.
I’m an international student and coming from a totally different background. I’m coming from an different academic environment with a different approach to issues. I have such a conflict of ideas, like, “This is what I used to know, and this is a new dimension of what I think I used to know.” I needed to find a balance in that knowledge and I tried to avoid stereotyping. I still struggle—I try to be open-minded about that, so I can gain new knowledge.
On the practical side, everything is different. It’s a new set of people, and I realized I need to learn people’s gestures. For instance, here, people smile as part of a cultural greeting. In Africa, smiling is not something that you just get from everyone.
What’s the most interesting assignment you’ve completed?
I think it would be the topic of torture from the human rights class. I’ve always been interested in human rights issues. Doing research for that paper and trying to understand how some of these tortures actually work and how it’s practiced was very interesting to me.
What is your favorite San Francisco or campus spot?
The campus is very beautiful— every part of it is beautiful work. I like to study within the science building’s Getty Lounge— a seating area where everything is glass so you can see outside. And there’s the silent study center in the library. But outside? I haven’t really had time to see around San Francisco yet, but I’ve been to Pier 39 and to Golden Gate Park.
What advice do you have for incoming students?
For international students, irrespective of the country, they should be open-minded. They should be friendly, as personable as they can. And they should learn to speak out— you don’t need to keep things to yourself. You should talk to your professors and talk to the department, and try to be yourself.
As admission decisions are going out, and new students begin to join the MAIS community, we turn to current students to explain #WhyMAIS was the right choice for them. In this post, we hear from Stephen Schneider:
What attracted you to USF and the MAIS program?
The San Francisco Bay Area is an important and interesting part of the world and I’ve always wanted to spend time here. After surveying a number of graduate programs in the area, I decided on USF and MAIS because of its clear commitment to applying knowledge towards social justice causes and because I wanted to study at a progressive, academically rich institution. Having focused on Global Studies for my undergraduate, I wanted to continue pursuing this highly interdisciplinary and timely field at a professional level in an evolving world city. The program length, course content, high quality of the faculty and staff, and recommendations by alumni all contributed to my decision to attend MAIS.
Describe your first semester in one sentence.
The first semester at MAIS consists of stuffing an incredibly dense and broad body of theoretical and practical knowledge into your brain, then unpacking the way it collides and combines with previous world views, and finally attempting to sift and remix the contents in an academically coherent and personally enriching manner.
What’s the most interesting assignment you’ve completed?
There have been quite a few awesome assignments that have allowed me to explore my interests in a creative way. The most interesting assignments are those that ask us to think about and propose solutions to specific issues using the theories and tools from the course work. My favorite was developing a plan centered on human-powered electrical generation as an implement to reduce energy poverty and corporate exploitation in rural areas.
What is your favorite San Francisco or campus spot?
The hilly parks in the city are fantastic—Bernal Heights, Twin Peaks, Bayview Park, John McLaren Park, etc.
What advice do you have for incoming students?
First, plan for housing very early and try your best to get as close to campus as possible. Being closer to campus allows you to more easily participate in social events, talks, sports games, going to the gym, and could lead to a richer student experience. Secondly, refresh your knowledge about academic writing rules and styles so that you can focus on doing your best work without having to scratch your head too much. For international students, read up on American academic standards, and never be afraid to ask questions or challenge assumptions. Third, come with high expectations about the level of dialogue and discussion and bring your own story into the conversation. MAIS is comprised of folks with an amazing range of backgrounds and interests, and each person contributes to the learning experience. Expect to speak in public, share your opinion against critique, and be able to back up your voice with research and experiential evidence.
Most importantly, take every opportunity to hang out and discuss the issues with your fellow classmates. Essential reflection and further learning happens outside the classroom, so grab a burrito and dive into the complexities of the wonderful world of International Studies. The planet right now truly needs the kind of concern and inquiry that MAIS allows us to foster, so make this your time to really dive in. Lastly, enjoy it! Remember to take one day at a time and find your way to enjoy the distinctive experience as a graduate student at an outstanding university in a remarkable city.
As our current MAIS students are working on their summer internship placements, we’re flashing back to last summer’s internships with today’s blog post.
Where did you intern this summer?
I had the opportunity to fulfill my internship with ProMexico, the Trade and Investment Commission within the General Consulate of Mexico in San Francisco. ProMexico is in charged of maintaining and strengthening the relationship between Mexico and the United States. A goal that personally resonates with my vision in life; strength and growth in any community lays in a good neighboring relationship, accentuating differences as positive assets.
The ProMexico office in San Francisco focuses primarily in businesses, either here in the Bay Area or California with Mexico, creating business partnerships and portraying all the good traits Mexico and the Bay Area have to offer. The Commission believes that neighboring countries should see their proximity as an advantage and should build a closer relationship through the exchange of the best each country has to offer.
How did the MAIS program prepare you for your internship?
Tools I acquired thorough out my courses at the MAIS program such as research, diligence in every task, attention to detail, and overall a more thorough understanding of different cultures have been key elements I put into practice throughout my internship. The ability to use and express oneself in two languages in a professional manner is a quality that the MAIS program reinforced and was a characteristic that was highly noted by co-workers and employers, within my internship experience.
During my internship I had the opportunity to work close to multiple businesses that have relationships and investments in Mexico. Every task demanded a lot from the ProMexico team. Organizing my time, managing several tasks at a time and completing them at a prompt time length, are skills I needed to have mastered in order to succeed. Thankfully I learned all of these during the MAIS program.
What were some highlights of interning at this organization?
My internship has provided excellent opportunities for networking. I have had the opportunity to meet the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Claudia Ruiz Massieu, the General Consul of Mexico in San Francisco José Gemi Gonzalez, and the Mexican ambassador for UNESCO, as well as representatives from Google, LinkedIn, Sales Force, among others, all sharing a deep interest in Mexico’s development as a country and society and the importance between a strong relationship between both countries.
Working under Deputy Chief of the Commission Azul Ogazon, I was part of a team that was responsible for the administrative organization of ProMexico. Aiding in any way possible from creating an agenda for potential businesses partners that wanted to visit the Bay Area and arranging meetings with specific business sectors to organizing high-profile events around the city.
Recently the regional offices of ProMexico in Washington D.C. have contacted me to be part of a research program in the Silicon Valley area. Investigating the underrepresentation of Mexican and Latino individuals in the tech-industry. Working side by side with the regional offices is a great opportunity to discover how Mexicans are portrayed in the United States, but most importantly how two great countries work together in similar industries.
What did you gain from your experience?
Working for ProMexico has been a great experience since day one. I have met incredible people and love working with a team, which is filled with hard-working, driven individuals. People that I now know wholeheartedly and admire their achievement. They have encouraged me and guided me throughout my summer stay in ProMexico.
Every opportunity life gives you comes for a reason and as well as every decision you make in life takes you somewhere differently, at the end it is where you were meant to be.
I am and always have been driven by human relationships and the power we have to create bridges between people, societies and countries. Working for ProMexico showed me the willingness of people to approach different cultures and the love that exists between nations.
Student Outreach for Refugees, Asylees and Immigrants (SORAI), a student run organization started by several MAIS students, recently hosted an event on campus to address the refugee crisis happening around the world. Below is a write up about the event.
There are over 65 million displaced individuals worldwide, nearly 20 million are refugees. Almost 5 million are from Syrian and over half of all refugees are children. We are living in an era with the largest refugee crisis since World War II. Addressing and finding a solution to this global migration crisis has never been greater.
The refugee crisis has also been the debate and key points in both the Brexit referendum and the 2016 US Presidential elections. Given the current political, economic, and security conditions around the world the graduate Student Outreach for Refugees, Asylees and Immigrants (SORAI) worked diligently to get an on the field humanitarian to be the voice of the millions of individuals seeking safety.
Father Florenzo Maria Rigoni has over 45 years of humanitarian experience and is a recipient of multiple awards. Father Rigoni gave an hour lecture about the plight and human rights of migrants and refugees, specifically those from Latin America.
By bringing a leading international humanitarian to USF, SORAI hopes to increase awareness of the current global migration crisis that affects over 65 million people. In all, we hope his voice helps inspire USF staff, students and faculty to help find and/or create a solution to the current migration crisis.
SORAI was honored to present Father an award for the relentless commitment he has shown in saving the lives of migrants and refugees during the current migration crisis.
The event Global Migration Crisis: Voices from Leading International Humanitarians took place at the Harney Science Center on November 18th, 2016. The event attracted students, faculty, and consular leaders.
The International Studies department would like to congratulate all of our Fall 2016 graduates! This is our favorite and least favorite part of year as we love to celebrate your accomplishments as International Studies students but are sad to see you leave us. We’re so proud of you, and we can’t wait to see what you do to Change the World From Here (and There and Everywhere)!
B.A. in International Studies graduates
|Noor Tarik Al Haidary||Melinda Bernard||David Chavez|
|David Garrett||Kendall Kincaid||Nabila Maharani|
|Hoang Minh Nguyen||Macie Roorda|
M.A. in International Studies graduates
|Fardowsa Abdullahi||Azamat Baiyzbekov||Keith Baskerville|
|Belguun Bat-Erdene||Daniela Carina Bermudez||Nicole Campos|
|Andrew Chen||Tala Dayyat||Cristina Del Puerto|
|Brian Dexter||Isabel Cristina Duarte Vasquez||Dakota Floyd|
|Narek Ghazaryan||Briawna Gillespie||Deeti Gupta|
|Marianne Hoeidal||Sarai Anne Ikenze||Rida Kazmi|
|Marcus Littman||Magdalena Martinez||Francesca Mateo|
|Chalwe Mwansa||Yu Namie||John Paul Posis|
|Audrey Purnama||Fabiola Ramirez Tavui||Harley Roe|
|Meron Semedar||Anna Takkenberg||Tengxiang Xu|
|Joseph Young||Jose Zacarias|
1. Where did you conduct your internship and why did you choose this opportunity?
I was a resettlement intern at the International Rescue Committee (IRC). I chose to go there per the suggestion of one of my professors. I knew that I wanted to write my thesis on migration and diasporic communities. Seeing as the IRC helped refugees resettle in the Bay Area, among other areas throughout the US, it seemed like a good fit. Every family has a different migration story and interning at the IRC was a good way to learn and here these unique and different journeys.
2. What were your work responsibilities?
The IRC helps refugees in finding housing, attending health and social benefits appointment, finding work, and helping refugees who need long-term assistance in becoming self-sufficient individuals. My responsibilities as a resettlement intern were crucial to the initial arrival of the refugee family. The caseworkers that I worked with only handled family and individual cases for the first 90 days after their arrival, after which they are transferred to the Intensive Case Management branch of the IRC for additional assistance. My responsibilities included making periodic home visits to insure that the family felt safe and supported, taking individuals to social benefits appointments, scheduling initial healthcare checks and setting up primary physician preferences, assist in school enrollment for kids, setting up their new home and etc.
3. Are there accomplishments that you are particularly proud of?
I am glad to know that I was able to make a positive change in the lives of individuals and families in need. Interning at the IRC give a new meaning to USF’s motto of “Change the world from here” as it truly does give all of their interns the chance to make a difference in the lives of those in less than ideal situations.
4. How were you able to apply your MAIS coursework to your hands on experience?
During the spring semester, I took a class on refugees and forced migration. The IRC was able to help me better understand the life of a refugee and the struggles that they face on their journey to another country. The class also helped me learn the terminology that is used on a regular basis at the IRC. It was great to learn and apply what I’ve learned simultaneously in the semester. The International Law class was helpful in informing on what claims and threats these refugees must make in order to be granted refugee status. Overall, those two classes provided me with a great framework and understanding of migration and the rights afforded to refugees.
5. What did you gain from your internship?
From this internship I’ve gained a better perspective of what refugees must go through. It also gives me a better perspective on the US immigration system. Prior to coming attending USF and getting my internship at the IRC, I had worked at a law firm where I was tasked with filling out and sending immigration forms for business purposes. The IRC is the complete opposite of business immigration, and I am glad to have gained the experience and perspective of both sides of the immigration world.
Every Friday, the International Studies Department will profile one of our amazing faculty (or staff) members so you can get to know them better and see all the amazing work our faculty and staff do!
Christie Meno is the Graduate Administrative Director for the MA in International Studies (MAIS) program. In this role, Christie supports all of the program’s outside-of-the-classroom functions, such as recruitment, admissions, orientation, professional development opportunities, student socials, and addressing any ongoing student concerns. Christie proudly hails from a small town in upstate New York (Sidney, New York) and joined the intrepid International Studies Department in January 2016. Before taking this post, she worked most recently at New York University in New York City where she was part of the department of Residential Life and Housing Services. Christie studied political science as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and received her Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs from the Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University.
Christie’s professional interests include the dynamics of college student transitions and especially the first-year experience, particularly among first generation and low income students; college access and equity; and bridging the in- and out-of-classroom experiences to create seamless living-learning environments. To expand her knowledge on the first-year experience, Christie spent a summer as a National Orientation Director’s Association (NODA) intern at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. Given her role at USF, Christie has shifted her focus to facilitate college access and success at the graduate student level.
Christie’s professional career started at NYU where she worked with the Faculty Fellows program helping to coordinate on- and off-campus events with faculty and students. Her work in this field led to her giving several successful conference presentations. Christie then transitioned roles and worked closely with student leadership and development, overseeing the student staff training and ongoing professional development for NYU’s nearly 400 residential student staff members. This role took her all the way to Shanghai where she helped develop a training course for NYU’s residential life student staff at the NYU Shanghai campus.
In addition, her passion for increasing student access led to her involvement with the iMentor program in New York City which pairs professionals in the community with high school students as they work toward graduation and admission into colleges. Since arriving at USF, Christie has enjoyed applying her various interests into a new arena in her work with graduate students. Finally, Christie is also an instructor for the USF 101 course, a class designed to introduce new students to the USF mission and what it means to study at a Jesuit, social justice-oriented institution. This role allows her to enjoy the best of both the undergraduate and graduate student experience at USF’s beautiful campus.
In her non-working hours, Christie spends her time exploring SF by way of restaurants, museums, music venues, and walks through SF’s diverse neighborhoods. Christie loves traveling, mostly recently returning from a two week adventure in Thailand, and is a lifelong skier excited to explore the mountains of the West. She is passionate about cooking new dishes, Jackson Browne, finding San Francisco’s best Bloody Mary and scoop of ice cream, and obsessing over Michigan football (whose games often begin at 9am on the West Coast; hence, the Bloody Mary search…). While she is a definitive New Yorker at heart, Christie feels the pull of California more each day, and couldn’t be happier for the opportunity to work here in the International Studies Department.
The semester is officially past the halfway point and the holidays are fast approaching! Take a moment to look back at October, and check out how the International Studies Department packed this month chock-full of opportunities to for our students to learn outside the classroom. In between studying for midterms, IS students relaxed at socials, lunches, and speaker events.
October 5- How I Got This Job Series (Abby Rubinson)
To start off the month, IS hosted the first installment of the “How I Got This Job” Speaker Series, featuring Abby Rubinson. Abby spoke to students about her own experiences working in non-governmental organizations focused on human rights and the environment, and provided some valuable tips on developing careers in non-profits. Number one on her list? Be flexible. Flaunt the diversity of your skills as an International Studies student, and show employers a willingness to go the extra mile in everything you do.
October 10- New Student Lunch: Study Abroad
Our final New Student Lunch this semester was a hit, and our adept group of Peer Advisors each shared their Study Abroad stories with new students looking to integrate real-life international experiences into the major. This lunch also highlighted all the different ways students can study abroad during their time at USF, whether they’re on a budget or crunched for time! New students left the lunch confident about the option to study abroad in ways that work best for them.
October 13- Game Changer with Omer Ismail
Our Fall keynote speaker was Omer Ismail, the co-founder of the Darfur Peace and Development Organization. Omer has worked with international relief organizations promoting human rights for over thirty years, and is the current Policy Advisor at the Enough Project. Omer discussed the work of The Sentry, an initiative founded in conjunction with the Enough Project to fight the facilitation of genocide and mass atrocities in the African continent through the use of legitimate networks of international finance and trade. Students and faculty engaged in a lively discussion of legal tools that could be used to prosecute international human rights offenders.
October 18- San Francisco State University Graduate Recruiting Fair
October also means recruitment is picking up for the MAIS program! This month, Administrative Director Christie Meno and Program Assistant Amanda Mitchell headed out to Merced for the annual graduate fair at San Francisco State University, and the San Francisco Idealist Fair. We also held an on campus info session and are pumped up to continue recruiting exciting new minds to contribute to our Masters program.
Oct 26- Human Rights & Environmental Justice
International Studies was made proud by the outstanding work of our faculty this month, and a big shout out goes to Professor Brian Dowd-Uribe for his participation in a panel discussion sponsored by the 11th Hour Project and USF’s Environmental Management Program. This event focused on the panelists’ work on building community partnerships to create more just, equitable, and sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa. In an inspiring parting note, moderator Joe Sciortino, Executive Director of The Schmidt Family Foundation, called upon USF students to engage in this important work by mastering advocacy skills and community organizing to enact meaningful change from the ground up.
Finally, a big thanks to everyone who participated in and contributed to International Studies events this month. This the wraps up our October debrief, and look out for the next one at the end of November!
Are you ready for registration for next semester? International Studies is excited to announce our new courses for Spring 2017! Stay tuned to myUSF for the release of the full course schedule for spring to get all the details about class times and locations.
- BAIS 390-01: Conflict Resolution and Mediation
Prof. Laleh Shahideh
Conflicts occur when there is a gap between mutual understandings, whether between individuals, groups, or states. This course will examine why these gaps arise, and how to diminish them before they escalate to dangerous levels – whether that is a fist-fight, legal battle, or war. Students will explore conflict and mediation from both traditional and emerging perspectives by studying peace-building attempts and using examples from local and global situations. In particular, this course will examine the different ways language can be interpreted and how the power of language can influence outcomes. Students will gain a better understanding of their own conflict styles; how to successfully approach conflict on different levels; and, how to anticipate, prevent and de-escalate spiraling conflict situations both within their own communities and on a global scale.
- BAIS 390-02: The WTO, World Bank, and IMF: International Financial Organizations, Global Politics, and Development
Prof. Sana Onayeva
The aim of this course is to introduce students to the activities and role of international financial organizations like the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, as well as regional organizations, in global politics and development. The course will introduce students to structures and functions of these global financial organizations, as well as the fundamentals of international trade, investments, and their relationship to global politics. It will also address the key issues and challenges in international trade and global finance that are faced by advanced countries, developing countries, and post-communist states. Furthermore, the interdependence of domestic economies will be examined through a prism of the world financial crises that have resulted in rethinking and redesigning the system of international financial institutions. Finally, the course will cover the alternative dispute resolution and other mechanisms that States and other international actors use in resolving transnational disputes.
Joint Undergraduate/Graduate Course
- BAIS 390-03/MAIS 690-04: Human Rights Advocacy Skills
Prof. Dana Zartner
This 2-unit course will provide upper division undergraduate and graduate students with grounding in some of the key skills used in advocacy, non-profit, and NGO work. With a particular focus on human rights, students will discuss the role and purpose of advocacy for instituting change. Students will spend most of the semester working on individual and group projects to develop skills in grant writing, budgets, advocacy plans, law and policy advocacy, targeted writing and speaking, and visual and social media advocacy. This course will require a series of short, practical assignments that students will compile into an e-Portfolio that can be used when applying for jobs and internships.
All MAIS students select two electives, in addition to enrolling in one section of Research Methods & Thesis Writing.
- MAIS 690-01: Global Food and Water Security
Prof. Brian Dowd-Uribe
Food and water insecurity are two of the biggest challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. The goal of this class is to study the actors and approaches to address these challenges particularly as they relate to justice and sustainability. Our survey of actors and approaches is rooted in a historical analysis of how food and water security have been addressed in the past, and how contemporary efforts are shaped by neoliberal economic reforms, climate change, consumption patterns, technologies, institutions, social movements, geographies and geopolitics. We will explore specific case studies from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. A particular focus of this class will be on formulating strategies to address these challenges.
- MAIS 611-01: Development & the Environment
Prof. Christopher Loperena
What is development? What are the key ideas underlying development practice? How have contemporary global phenomena—neoliberalism, climate change, and urbanization—reconfigured the aims of development? Ideas about how to “do” development rest on a number of assumptions that have their roots in both contemporary and historical economic thinking. These ideas profoundly shape the policies and practice of international financial institutions, such as the IMF and the World Bank, thereby creating particular kinds of policy priorities. Evaluation of development policies and programs often tend to operate within these existing paradigms, rather than asking the larger question: Why is it that we do what we do? This seminar will look at the field of development studies from an interdisciplinary perspective and evaluate the kinds of policies that have been pursued by governments, agencies and practitioners in the pursuit economic growth, poverty reduction, and climate change mitigation.
- MAIS 612-01: Politics of Conflict and Peace
Prof. Stephen Zunes
This seminar explores the political, economic, social and environmental factors associated with transnational conflicts and assesses different approaches to conflict resolution and conflict transformation. Readings will include both theoretical approaches and a number of case studies. Each week, students will write short reflections on the readings and discuss the material covered in a seminar format, interspersed with occasional short lectures by the instructor.
- MAIS 690-02: Refugees, Forced Migration, and Displacement
Prof. Lindsay Gifford
This class will broadly examine issues related to refugees, forced migration and displacement from a global perspective. We study the rights of refugees in international law and the institutional structures that have been developed to address refugee and related issues. We examine issues surrounding urban refugees, camps, protracted refugee situations, stateless and displaced persons and intensifying conditions of economic and environmental displacement driven by climate change. We take a critical perspective on refugee and forced migration studies, examining the contours of identity in displacement, refugee agency and activism, the efficacy of so-called “durable solutions,” and the realities of resettlement in countries of the Global North. We also discuss research ethics and practice in working with populations who have experienced trauma and displacement.
- MAIS 690-03: Infrastructure as Ethics
Prof. Lucia Cantero
This course will look at infrastructural projects throughout the globe to consider the relationship between built environment and political economy. The readings will survey the spatial politics of institutions like shopping malls and gentrification in urban spaces, global development and mega-events like the Olympics and the World Cup, a politics of patrimony via UNESCO heritage conservation projects, competing politics around energy and resources like oil, water pumps and rationing, hydroelectric dams. We will also consider everyday media, the internet and advertising as a form of soft infrastructure for the circulation of visual culture to think about the politics of consumer culture.
- LAW 700: Comparative Law and Judicial Systems
Prof. Dana Zartner
This course is being offered by Professor Zartner through the law school. Only MAIS students who are writing their Thesis or Applied Project on a topic incorporating comparative legal issues will be eligible to take this course as one of their electives. If you are interested, please contact Professor Zartner.
This seminar explores the relationship between different cultural and historical conceptions of law, the legal institutions which develop from these cultures and histories, and how this development shapes both domestic and international legal policies of states in the world today. Law maintains a central role in every society in the world and the best ideas are often not fully possible until supported by law and policy. Yet, law and policy don’t often fulfill their aims in protecting rights, promoting justice, and maintaining order. In this seminar, we will address these issues, with a focus on understanding how institutional and cultural differences concerning the law have an impact on individuals, groups, and states themselves. In the end, this course will give you a better understanding of different legal traditions, which can greatly facilitate working with people around the world.