Global Studies Program
Whitman College has embarked on a campus-wide, large-scale effort to globalize our liberal arts curriculum and our campus as a whole. Our long-term objective is to develop a critical focus on globalization at Whitman College. We aim to create a global campus, a place where students and faculty from a variety of backgrounds and experiences routinely come together to critically assess their role in global networks of knowledge, commerce, technology, environment, and culture. To do so, we must infuse global awareness and understandings broadly in the college curriculum and co-curriculum.
Support for global studies extends across all sectors of our campus. Whitman’s faculty expressed strong support in a campus-wide academic planning document completed in 2005, where they recommended an expansion of the breadth of voices and perspectives on the campus and in the academic program. Subsequently, the President and Board of Trustees have endorsed a long-term goal to integrate global perspectives into our curriculum.
At Whitman, we already possess a remarkable array of assets to support our global campus aspirations, including study in six foreign languages and extensive study abroad options around the world; opportunities for prestigious international fellowships; and interdisciplinary programs in Asian, Latin American, and race and ethnic studies. In addition, the number of international students on campus has increased steadily in recent years.
Thanks to a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we have initiated a program that will lay the intellectual foundation for teaching global ideas across the curriculum. Faculty development seminars and workshops are bringing together faculty traditionally separated by disciplinary and divisional lines, boosting intellectual curiosity among the faculty and producing a creative space for collaborative work. Faculty workshops, funded by the Mellon grant, have facilitated the creation of new, team-taught interdisciplinary courses, as well as the infusion of critical global content into existing ones.
Visiting experts from around the world are also contributing to our growing program. Three campus-wide global studies symposia, made possible by the Mellon grant, have brought experts in the humanities, social sciences, and the natural sciences to present and collaborate on the topics of “Torture and the Human Body” (2009), “Contagion” (2010), and “Global Media, Global Spectacles” (2011) and "Places/Peripheries: Intersections of the Global and Local" (2012). These symposia were enormous successes, drawing the campus and Walla Walla communities into sustained intellectual conversations on topics of great contemporary global significance.
Building and Sustaining the Global Studies Program
The enthusiasm generated has been impressive, but further support is necessary to sustain this momentum and continue these targeted efforts as the Mellon grant ends. Whitman has made a long-term commitment to Global Studies in the Whitman curriculum and is raising funds to ensure the Initiative’s permanence, including creating an endowment to continue the three signature elements of our initiative:
- faculty development and programming in Global Studies;
- the Global Studies Symposium;
- and a Global Studies Faculty Director.
In the long term, the sustainability of a globalized Whitman College also depends on a dynamic faculty energized by an ongoing collaborative engagement with cutting edge ideas. Whitman professors understand that in this era of rapid globalization it is even more essential that courses of study address historical and contemporary interconnections to enable Whitman students — future humanitarians, teachers, diplomats and business people — to interact effectively and meaningfully with people from all corners of the world. Bruce Magnusson, Associate Professor of Politics and current Director of Global Studies, explains, “Neither national borders nor disciplinary boundaries will confine the challenges that students and all of us will face in the coming years. The Global Studies Program will help us as an intellectual community to grapple with the relationship of globalization to the liberal arts in the world in which we teach and learn.”
Whitman College is committed to addressing this challenge; however, additional funding will be needed to continue these important programs, to expand foreign language offerings, to enhance study abroad opportunities, to add opportunities for international student/faculty research, and to bring more international students and scholars to campus.
Our Global Studies Program is designed so that every student graduating from the College, regardless of major, is encouraged to critically engage with global ideas and processes during their years at Whitman. Your support of the Global Studies Progam will help prepare our students for global citizenship and positions of leadership in an increasingly competitive and interconnected world.