Global Studies is the academic study of globalization, the processes and interactions that have converted the world into a single interdependent whole. This perspective is holistic not just because it is interdisciplinary, but because it challenges the “national frame” upon which traditional academic disciplines have been built. That traditional framework is focused on national economies, politics and societies, and globalization is seen as merely the creation of more “bridges” between them. In Global Studies, the starting point is not any national entity but the processes and interactions that have integrated human life on a global scale. Global Studies is built on the acknowledgement that political power, economic influence, and cultural norms are not determined solely within nation states but are also influenced by actors such as international organizations, multinational corporations, transnational and subnational groups, and non-governmental organizations.
As an academic field in the liberal arts, Global Studies seeks to educate citizens with a global, holistic and cosmopolitan perspective on the problems faced by the world today, from social inequality and women’s rights to terrorism and climate change. Even when these problems are experienced locally or nationally, they have a global dimension and require global solutions. In this context, majoring in Global Studies really means becoming a “global citizen” for the global century ahead.
Global Studies students choose one of three tracks: Culture, Place, and Identity; Development, Health, and the Environment; or International Affairs. Majors are required to take the following courses:
Gateway Courses (12 credits)
These courses should be chosen on the basis of the student’s likely choice of track. See below for further information on the three tracks.
Electives (18 credits)
Students choose their electives from approved track lists. Students may also choose to earn three of their upper-level credits in a structured, track-related, semester-long internship or faculty-supervised independent study. Some 125 electives will be available to GLBL majors. For a master list of courses approved for Global Studies, please visit the Course Index on the Global Studies website.
***Please note: Because the Global Studies curriculum draws from 11 departments and programs, it is impossible to note all the prerequisites in this section of the catalog. It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of any prerequisites that may be required before taking particular upper-level courses. For example, upper-level courses in the Department of Economics typically require one or more prerequisites.***
Writing Intensive Courses
Students are required to take and pass with at least a “C” two writing-intensive (WI) courses. One of the required Global Studies courses -GLBL 301 Approaches to Globalization - is designated as writing-intensive. Upon graduation from UMBC, GLBL majors will have demonstrated that they can think critically, analyze questions with no easy answers, and write effectively and persuasively. For a complete list of writing-intensive courses, please visit the Office of Undergraduate Education, Writing Intensive Program webpage.
Students are required to acquire a significant second-language capability, defined as courses or proficiency through the 302-level in a language other than English. If UMBC does not offer courses through the 302-level in a student’s chosen language, the student may meet the requirement through another institution.
Global Studies majors are expected to have a curiosity about the world and a strong interest in cross-cultural academic experiences. Studying overseas provides GLBL students with linguistic and cross-cultural skills necessary for their future professional careers. Majors are therefore required to participate in an in-depth international study experience. The length of this mandatory international study experience can range from one semester to one year. Students who choose the one-year option can, if they wish, spend a semester each at two different study sites. GLBL students frequently complete the 302-level language requirement during their study abroad experience. Majors are required to work with the UMBC Study Abroad Office (studyabroad.umbc.edu ) to arrange their international study plans.
Students are also strongly encouraged to undertake one or more GLBL-related applied experiences (such as an internship with a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to assist in the settlement and acculturation of immigrants and refugees).
International Affairs explores the interaction of sovereign states and the role of governments and nongovernmental transnational actors in a rapidly globalizing international system. Course offerings in this track focus on diplomacy and diplomatic history; U.S. and comparative foreign policy; comparative studies of nations and political systems; international trade, monetary, and financial affairs; international law; human rights; international organizations; and global security issues. The track builds upon the traditional “international relations” emphasis on states, markets, security, and political economy, while significantly broadening that focus to encompass non-state, transnational actors like multinational corporations, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, socio-political movements, individuals, and terrorist networks. The central purpose of the International Affairs track is to explore the dynamics, consequences, and implications of globalization on states and transnational actors in the 21st century.
Gateway Courses (12 credits)
Four gateway courses (from the list of Global Studies gateway courses, above).
Electives (18 credits)
Students must also complete six courses from the following list of track electives. Five of the six courses must be at the 300-400 level.