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This year, Whitman students have the opportunity to benefit from a new Center for Global Studies.

The Center for Global Studies will serve as a focal point for students and faculty to help them access and reflect on the global learning opportunities already available on campus. It will also serve as a hub for creating innovative new global learning opportunities.

"We want to help our community move beyond seeing ‘global' as exclusively ‘foreign,'" said Aaron Bobrow-Strain, who served as director of the Global Studies program and was instrumental in the creation of the new center. "With the Center for Global Studies we hope to create learning opportunities designed to help Whitman faculty, students and staff challenge their own assumptions about the world and our positions in it."

One major aspect of the launch of the Center for Global Studies is the addition of Whitman College's first dedicated concentration. The concentration in global studies is a framework for students to demonstrate and be recognized for having engaged with important global questions at a deep level, regardless of what their majors are.

To earn a concentration in global studies, students will take a series of specific courses; choose from language immersions, off-campus education or a series of analytical seminars; attend regular advising sessions with global studies faculty; and complete an assessment that includes an essay, a portfolio of their work and an interview.

Students will choose courses from one of three thematic areas: Global Systems and Histories; Global Circulations and Movements; and Global Places and Events. Courses used toward the concentration can also be used to meet major or general distribution requirements.

"The themes spotlight the broad range of courses with global perspective that are already in our catalog. We ask the students to reflect on their choice of courses, their language immersions, their abroad and/or internship experiences through a portfolio of their work, integrative essays, capstone seminars and discussions with their advisors so they can build connections across their curricular experiences," said Leena Knight, who took over the role of director of Global Studies in July. "The structure of the global studies concentration allows our students flexibility to pursue their interests while maintaining the rigorous academic components that will integrate seamlessly with their major studies and will create the truly interdisciplinary learning experience central to a liberal arts education."

In the end, the deliberate incorporation of experiences inside and outside the classroom will allow students to place themselves and their communities in webs of natural, economic, cultural and social connections that defy traditional borders. Graduates of the concentration will be able to articulate how they challenged their own assumptions by engaging with difference and will be able to demonstrate the ways that their education at Whitman helped them make complex connections across the disciplines on important global issues.

In addition to overseeing the concentration in global studies, the Center for Global Studies will also expand the O'Donnell Visiting Educator program, encourage more students to participate in off-campus programs and further integrate those experiences into their regular on-campus studies, and will continue its efforts toward faculty and curricular development.

"I cannot think of a more appropriate focus for a new addition to academics at Whitman than the Center for Global Studies at this point in time. A better understanding of and respect for the complexity of global issues is sorely needed in our society today," said Alzada J. Tipton, provost and dean of the faculty. "I am also very excited by the innovative aspects of the new concentration format, especially in how it brings together classes, advising, out-of-class learning experiences, and self-reflection on the part of the students. Students will benefit greatly from being able to integrate all of their opportunities for learning together."