Welcome to the 2016-2017 Academic Year! A Message from the Chair

Welcome to the 2016-2017 academic year! It is hard to believe the summer has flown by and it is time for classes to begin again. The faculty and staff of the International Studies Department are delighted to welcome back our returning undergraduate and graduate students! We are also so thrilled to welcome to the International Studies family over 60 new undergraduate majors and 38 new graduate students. Together you are part of a vibrant community of approximately 300 students, faculty, and staff that call International Studies at the University of San Francisco (ISatUSFCA) home.

Global PotluckInternational Studies Global Potluck Dinner, Spring 2016

I am often asked by students, parents, and employers what benefits there are to an undergraduate or graduate degree in International Studies. There are many answers I can give to this question, but the one I want to mention today concerns the big picture reality of the world we live in and why a degree in IS is essential to address these problems.

Anyone paying attention to the news over the summer can probably identify a number of global issues that need new solutions, concrete action, and dedicated advocates. So many events occurred across the globe this summer that provide a clear demonstration of why an interdisciplinary, multi-method, knowledge and skills-based education in International Studies from the USF is an excellent choice. Just some of these include: the ongoing war in Syria and the corresponding refugee crisis; the attempted coup in Turkey and the crackdown on the freedom of expression and due process rights; the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom to pull the country out of the European Union; the continued dispute over the islands in the South China Sea; the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio and the spread of the Zika virus; the United Nations admitting responsibility in the cholera outbreak in Haiti; and the United States Presidential elections.

Each of these events contains multiple facets touching on issues of development, human rights, environmental justice, culture and identity, power dynamics, international law and organizations, the global-local connection, the global economic system, and relationships between a variety of state and non-state actors. Tackling any of these issues from the perspective of a single disciplinary lens, while able to provide some valuable insight, is not enough. The issues facing us today are complex and solutions are going to come from taking a broad perspective that encompasses many different fields and many different opportunities.

The degree programs in International Studies at USF do just that. As an interdisciplinary department, both our undergraduate and graduate programs draw on faculty expertise across disciplines so students are exposed to the very variety of approaches to issues that is needed in our complex world. In the department, we have faculty with expertise in political science, international and comparative law, cultural anthropology, indigenous rights issues, refugee issues, art history, globalization, colonialism, political and diplomatic history, food security and sustainability, environmental studies, mega events and infrastructures, and conflict resolution. This cross-disciplinary variety means that students in our program are exposed to different perspectives that provide a greater breadth and depth of expertise to address those issues that matter most to them. As you begin your studies this fall, you will start to see the benefits of these different approaches to addressing global crises.

In addition to the interdisciplinary approach to tackling global issues, we are continually working to provide our students with the skills they needs to hit the ground running in their chosen profession after graduating from USF. The fall semester is full events designed to provide students with the resources and skills they need to succeed including two internship and career workshops, a brown-bag lunch on applying to graduate school and law school, and talk by a non-profit leader on careers in NGOs. For Spring 2017 we are offering a new 2 unit course open to both graduate and undergraduate students on Human Rights Advocacy Skills designed specifically to provide students with skills such as grant writing, advocacy plans, and writing OpEds.

Tracy HardingTracy Harding, Regional Director, Office of Foreign Missions, U.S. Department of State speaks to students about careers in diplomacy and the Peace Corps, February 2016

It won’t be all work though! We have lots of fun events planned for the fall as well to give you a chance to engage with your fellow IS folks in a more relaxed setting. Our first department social will take place on September 8 in the Getty Lounge. Come meet all the new students and reconnect with old friends! On September 23 and October 7 join us to cheer on fellow International Studies students playing for USF men’s soccer and women’s volleyball. We are also planning events to engage with International Studies alumni, a writing day to help you prepare for finals, and talks by a diverse array of USF faculty and visiting lecturers.

alumni event - CopyAlumni Mixer at Barrelhead Brewhouse, September 2015

We have an exciting year planned and we hope you are looking forward to it as much as we are! We know there are many, many serious problems around the world and sometimes it can be hard to maintain the perspective and optimism needed to address them. Our goal as International Studies faculty and staff is to provide you with the knowledge and the tools you need to make positive change in the world, work for social justice, and live your best life as a global citizen. We look forward to going on this journey with you this year!

Professor Dana Zartner,  Chair, International Studies Department




Current MAIS Student Jose Zacarias Blogs During his Immersion Trip to Puebla


F15 MAIS student Jose Zacarias is spending his spring break on an immersion trip to Puebla, Mexico. Follow his adventures and insights on his blog – https://nwlsite.wordpress.com. Here is an excerpt:

Preparing for Puebla

While reading and studying the global economy produces fascinating discoveries nothing can compare to being immersed in a Country’s culture and economy. Saturday I will be traveling to Puebla, Mexico, and while I’m excited for the hopes of visiting Cholula, one of the oldest inhabited cities in Mexico, and feasting on Mole Pueblano on my first visit ever, the majority of my excitement comes from visiting a place that is today known as a transit site for Central American migrants making their treacherous way to the U.S. – Mexico border. Interestingly enough, Puebla is also rapidly becoming a hot spot for multinational corporations, like Audi (Coincidence?).


UPDATE: Click here to listen to an interview conducted on Ibero Radio station about his experience in Puebla.

A Degree in International Studies from USF Provides the Skills Employers Want

by Dana Zartner, Chair, International Studies Department

“[L]iberal arts training – with its emphasis on creativity and critical thinking – is vital to … success ….” –Elizabeth Segran, Fast Company

A degree in international studies, whether through our Bachelor of Arts in International Studies (BAIS) major for undergraduates or our Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS) program for graduate students, provides engaged world citizens with a new way of approaching global issues. Rather than through the lens of a single discipline like politics, sociology, anthropology, history, or economics, our interdisciplinary International Studies programs encourage students to explore their interests through the lenses of all these fields. Students learn to consider a variety of different theories, methodologies, and ideas that break down traditional disciplinary barriers. The interdisciplinary nature of our programs, coupled with the grounding in a liberal arts education, provides our students with critical thinking and analysis skills as well as extensive intercultural communication experience. Combined, these factors provide a bigger “toolbox” for students when it comes to life after graduation and is desirable for employers ranging from NGOs and advocacy groups, to government agencies and private corporations.

lots of pics

There has been a great deal of discussion in the past few years about the benefit of a liberal arts education like that you can receive in the Bachelor’s and Master’s programs in International Studies at USF. Consistently, however, employers across a wide range of fields have come out in favor of the knowledge and skills students develop through the kind of critical, global, interdisciplinary programs we offer through our department. Even in fields like high tech, which is prevalent in the San Francisco Bay Area, CEOs consistently support liberal arts education (in fact one-third of Fortune 500 CEOs have liberal arts degrees!). A 2013 survey of over 300 employers by the American Association of Colleges and University found the following:

  • 93% of all employers surveyed cited a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems with both short- and long- term approaches as the most important abilities they look for in new hires.
  • 95% of employers surveyed say that it is important that their new hires possess ethical judgment and integrity, intercultural skills, and the capacity for continued new learning.
  • Collaborative problem-solving skills, internships, and community engagement were also strongly preferred by employers surveyed.

Each one of these skills and opportunities mentioned is something that we support and fully integrate into our Bachelor’s and Master’s programs. For our Master’s students, an internship requirement and a mixed-methods research class provide experience and tools that employers value. In the undergraduate program, study abroad programs (over 100 of which have internships included), our problem-centered research methods class, and opportunities such as serving as a Peer Advisor or working on the International Affairs Review offer opportunities to hone skills and integrate them with academic knowledge. The Department also offers numerous opportunities for all of our students to develop the breadth of their knowledge and the depth of their marketable skills, including workshops on resumes, applying to graduate school, vicarious trauma, developing expertise, and (coming soon!) grant writing and advocacy development.

Upon graduation, our students are desirable in a wide variety of fields. We currently have undergraduate and graduate alumni working in a diverse array of locations, including: Amnesty International, Apple, U.S. Department of State, Twitter, UNICEF, Youtube, United Nations Mine Action Service, NASA, International Rescue Committee, Special Olympics, Mama Hope, Spanish Ministry of Education, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Fair Trade USA, Bulgarian Fulbright Commission, Morgan Stanley, and the World Affairs Council of Northern California. We also have alumni all over the world, creating a network of ISatUSF alumni who remain committed to our programs and our students. Get started on your future with us!