International studies is an interdisciplinary major that seeks to help students attain a well-rounded understanding of global developments and trends and to prepare them to succeed in the globalized world of the 21st century. In addition to core courses in international politics, history and economics, students study a foreign language and choose an area of concentration in which they take a cluster of courses either on a geographical area of their choice or on the transnational theme of human security and globalization. A key distinguishing aspect of the major is the comprehensive oral examination, which students take in the last semester of the senior year.

Welcome Message

On behalf of my colleagues, I welcome all those who have an interest in our Department of International Studies (IS).

We are proud of our program. It has been part of the Dickinson curriculum for more than 40 years. Despite its long tradition, the IS major has not remained stagnant. It has evolved with the times. Four years ago, the members of IS department proposed a set of changes to the IS major that were approved by the Dickinson faculty. One change was the development of the above-mentioned three areas of concentration.

At the present time, all students must complete the following set of courses for the IS major.

  • Two courses beyond the intermediate level in the foreign language
  • ECON 111—Introduction to Microeconomics
  • ECON 112—Introduction to Macroeconomics
  • INBM 200—The Global Economy
  • POSC 170—International Relations Theory
  • POSC 280—American Foreign Policy Since 1945
  • A course in diplomatic history, taken from HIST 358—European Diplomatic History; or HIST 382—US Diplomatic History; or INST 260—History of International Relations
  • IS 401—A senior seminar in International Studies
  • IS 404—Review and preparation for the International Studies Oral Examination
  • Four elective courses selected in conjunction with the faculty advisor in one of three following concentration areas:
  1. Country or Region of Specialization or
  2. Globalization and Sustainability or
  3. Security Studies (3 electives and POSC 281: U.S. National Security Policy)

The changes to the IS major that were approved four years ago have begun to bear fruit. The IS major continues to be one of the most popular majors at the College. At present we have 33 seniors in the IS program.  All signs indicate that enrollments in the major will continue to increase.

The teaching interests of the IS faculty have begun to reflect the new area of concentration and students have taken advantage of opportunities in interesting ways. The research papers written in the context of Professor Kristine Mitchell’s senior seminar “Globalization and Its Critics” had wonderful breadth.  The papers written by students included topics such as “The Global Phenomena of Food Crises,” “Economic Globalization: Impacts on the Nature of Human Trafficking,” “The Changing Role of French Language in a Globalized World,” “Japan’s Globalization through an Economic Lens” and “The Failure of 1980s IMF Structural Adjustment Programs in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Result of Misplaced Neoliberal Policies."

So too did the papers written for Professor Ed Webb’s seminar, “Empire." The papers written by students included topics such as “A New Common Sense: United States Involvement in Central America and Manipulation of Democratic Discourse in the 1980s,” “China’s Growing Role in Africa,” “U.S. Imperialism and Africa,” “Missionaries of Empire: A Comparative Analysis of British and American Imperial Expansion,” and “Italy’s Search for a National Identity and its Parallels in Empire-Building."     

The changes in the global system suggest the growing importance of the IS major. Over the past two decades, the people of the world have become more interdependent and the structure of the global system has changed. As a by-product of those developments, the nature of threats to the national interests of each country has become more complex. The list of immediate and longer-term threats to the national interests of the United States or of other countries now includes interstate conflicts, civil wars marked by genocide, abuses of human rights, attacks on civilian populations by terrorist organizations, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, global pandemics, and the catastrophic effects of global climate change.

The IS major, existing as it does within the context of a liberal education of the type provided at Dickinson, will be of increasing value to those who hope to make a contribution to society in a career with a global focus, regardless of the particular arena of engagement.

Contact Info

Kristine Mitchell
Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies

Department Coordinator:
Mary Ann Leidigh


Althouse #118, Althouse Hall
Mailing Address