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International Studies Curriculum


To complete the International Studies major, students complete core coursework in international politics, economics, and history; a foreign language requirement; four courses in the concentration of their choice; a senior research seminar; a course to prepare for the comprehensive written and oral exams at the end of the senior year; and the comprehensive exams themselves.

Core courses (6 courses)
INST/POSC 170: International Relations
ECON 111: Introduction to Microeconomics
ECON 112: Introduction to Macroeconomics (prerequisite: ECON 111)
INST 200: Global Economy (prerequisites: ECON 111 and 112)
INST/POSC 280: American Foreign Policy (prerequisite: INST/POSC 170)
A course in diplomatic history; choose one of the following:
     INST/HIST 358: 19th-20th Century European Diplomatic History or
     INST/HIST 282: Diplomatic History of the United States or
     INST 260: History of International Relations

Foreign language (2 courses)
Two courses beyond the intermediate level in the chosen foreign language (usually 5-6 semesters for students starting a language as an absolute beginner). This requirement is waived for international students for whom English is not a native language.

The objective of this requirement is for students to develop practical skills of inter-cultural communication.  Therefore, students should choose a modern, spoken language.  Latin and Ancient Greek and other ancient languages cannot be used to fulfill the foreign language requirement for the International Studies curriculum, nor can American Sign Language. 

Concentration (4 courses)
Four elective courses in one of the four following concentration areas:

  • A Geographical Area or a Specific Country
  • Sustainability and the Global Environment
  • World Economy and Development
  • Global Security

Regardless of concentration, courses must be drawn from at least two different departments and should be selected in consultation with the International Studies faculty advisor.

Senior capstone courses (2 courses)
INST 401—Interdisciplinary Seminar Research (Senior research seminar) (fall of senior year)

INST 404—Integrated Study (Review and preparation for the International Studies Oral Examination) (spring of senior year)

Senior comprehensive examination process
An especially challenging—and rewarding—aspect of the INST major is the comprehensive written and oral examinations at the end of the senior year. Students prepare for the exams both individually and, in the context of the capstone course all seniors take in their final semester, in groups. Students are expected to demonstrate substantive knowledge in all four core areas of the major - international relations theory, American foreign policy, international economics, and diplomatic history - and their area of concentration.

Suggested curricular flow through the major

Coursework for the International Studies (IS) major includes six core courses; a foreign language requirement; four courses in the chosen concentration; and two capstone courses during the senior year. While careful planning with an IS academic advisor is important for ensuring satisfactory completion of the major, the IS curriculum was designed to be flexible enough to permit students to spend a year abroad and offers considerable freedom in choosing the electives that satisfy students’ area of concentration.

The guidelines below are written for entering students who know they want to major in International Studies. Students beginning the major requirements in their first year have considerable freedom to re-order the course sequence outlined below (being mindful of prerequisites) to suit their interests. Students who come to the major later can and do complete the major requirements in a shorter time period.

First Year
INST/POSC 170 – International Relations
ECON 111 – Introduction to Microeconomics
ECON 112 – Introduction to Macroeconomics (prerequisite ECON 111)
Start or continue foreign language (both semesters)

Sophomore Year
Recommended that students take two of the following three core courses:

  1. INST/POSC 280 – American Foreign Policy (prerequisite INST/POSC 170)
  2. ​INST 200 (prerequisites ECON 111 and 112)
  3. One of three courses that satisfy the diplomatic history requirement:
    INST/HIST 358—19th-20th Century European Diplomatic History or
    INST/HIST 282—Diplomatic History of the United States or
    INST 260—History of International Relations

and...Start on INST concentration electives (choose in consultation with academic advisor)
and... Continue with foreign language

Junior Year
Study abroad for a semester or year
Complete core courses
Continue taking INST concentration electives (choose in consultation with academic advisor)
Finish foreign language requirement for the major

Note: Core courses typically cannot be taken abroad. But don't let this stop you from studying abroad. You can, if necessary, finish up core courses first semester of senior year.  Many students count courses from abroad towards their concentration.  Discuss the possibilities with your advisor.

Senior Year
INST 401 (offered in fall semester only)
INST 404 (offered in spring semester only)
Finish all other IS requirements (core courses, electives, language) as needed


A student will be awarded Honors if the student has a 3.50 cumulative GPA and a 3.67 GPA in the major, an A or A- in International Studies 401 and International Studies 404.

Opportunities for off-campus study

We hope and expect (but do not require) that all of INST majors will study abroad for at least one semester. In practice, this is generally best undertaken during the students’ junior year, although students should discuss their individual study abroad plans with their academic advisor. Going abroad during the junior year allows INST majors two years to complete many of the core courses required for the major and to return in their senior year for the required capstone courses. The core coursework and the senior seminars are expected to be completed while in residence on campus. Courses taken abroad may – with approval from the academic advisor – be appropriate as electives for students’ area of concentration (a region, globalization and sustainability, or international security).


170 International Relations
An introduction to global politics which examines the interaction of states, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in the world arena. Topics covered include traditional concerns such as war, balance of power, the UN and international law along with the more recent additions to the agenda of world politics such as international terrorism, human rights, and economic globalization.
This course is cross-listed as POSC 170.
Attributes: Appropriate for First-Year, LAWP Policy Elective, Political Science Elective, Security Studies Course, Social Sciences

200 Global Economy
The course introduces economic theory that builds on ideas from introductory microeconomics and macroeconomics. It uses that theory as a framework for examining developments in the changing global system. Developments include the revolution in information technology; the dynamics of human population growth; the implications of climate change; challenges to human security; and emerging patterns of organizational interdependence and collaboration. Those developments provide the context for business managers and for government officials responsible for shaping strategies and implementing policies.
Prerequisite: ECON 111 and 112; concurrent enrollment in ECON 112 by permission of the instructor. This course is cross-listed as ECON 226.
Attributes: East Asian Social Sci Elective

240 International Development
This course examines the challenges and strategies of economic development, with a detailed focus on how households behave. The goal is to provide an understanding of what life for poor households in developing countries is like, what can be done about it, and an idea of how valuable insights can be gained using standard economic tools and thinking. In addition to learning about theoretical models and real-life examples, we will spend significant time understanding recent research on development problems. Issues examined include: poverty measures, health issues such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and undernutrition, economic growth, agriculture, land use, technology adoption, foreign aid, credits, child labor, child education, migration, and measures of inequality. Prerequisite: ECON 111 and 112. This course is cross-listed as ECON 240.
Attributes: INST Africa Course, INST Asia Course, INST Global Security, INST World Economy & Developmt, LAWP Policy Elective, Security Studies Course

260 History of International Relations
This course is designed to give students an opportunity to apply theories of international relations to major events and issues in world history. Concepts such as balance of power, appeasement and imperialism will be studied against the backdrop of world historical events such as the Congress of Vienna, World War II, and the Algerian War.
Prerequisite: INST 170 or POSC 170.
Attributes: INST Diplomatic History Course

270 European Union
The European Union (EU) continues to evolve, and this course will help students to contextualize the EU's development since the mid-1950s, understand the way that it currently functions, and think about how it is likely to develop in the future. Students will become familiar with the political processes and multi-level institutional structure of the EU, the relations between the EU and its member states, and contemporary EU issues.
This course is cross-listed as POSC 270.
Attributes: Comparative Poli Sci Course, INST European Course, LAWP Policy Elective, POSC Research Methods Course, Social Sciences

271 Ethics and International Security
A course in applied ethics that examines the role ethical considerations both do and should play in the pursuit of national and international security objectives. Among the specific topics to be examined are the decision to go to war, rules governing how wars are fought, the ethics of weapons of mass destruction, the ethics of terrorism, the torture debate, economic sanctions, and humanitarian intervention.
Prerequisite: POSC 170, or permission of the instructor. This course is cross-listed as POSC 271.
Attributes: LAWP Ethics Elective, Political Science Elective, Security Studies Course

272 International Terrorism
This course provides a historic overview of international terrorism, its origins, evolution, characteristics, and the strategies of the participants. Starting with a clear definition of terrorism, the course will examine various historic case studies in an effort to identify common characteristics of terrorist activity, terrorist motivations, the origins of today's terrorist movements, and a general typology of terrorism. Studies will focus on specific "types" of terrorist activity as those types manifest themselves in the world today. The catastrophic events of September 11, 2001 and their impact on the national security of the United States will be the subject of several lessons. Finally, this course will examine the current strategies in the international struggle against terrorism, and their implications and challenges.
This course is cross-listed as POSC 272.
Attributes: Political Science Elective, Security Studies Course, Social Sciences

273 International Political Economy
This course examines the politics of global economic relations. Specific topics discussed include: trade and protectionism, international monetary relations, foreign direct investment, global institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and World Trade Organization (WTO), regional economic integration (e.g. the European Union [EU] and North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA], economic development, and the economic emergence of China and India. The larger issue serving as the backdrop to all of this is economic globalization -- its significance, sources, and consequences.
Prerequisite: POSC 170, or permission of the instructor. This course is cross-listed as POSC 273.
Attributes: LAWP Policy Elective, PMGT International Policy, Political Science Elective

277 International Politics of the Middle East
This course examines key factors and events in the formation of the modern Middle East state system and evolving patterns of conflict and cooperation in the region. Students will apply a range of analytical approaches to issues such as the conflicts between Arabs and Israelis, Iraq's wars since 1980, and the changing place of the region in global politics and economics.
Prerequisite: one course in any of International Studies, Middle East Studies, or Political Science. This course is cross-listed as POSC 277 and MEST 266.
Attributes: Global Diversity, INST Middle East/N Africa Crse, LAWP Policy Elective, Security Studies Course, Social Sciences

280 American Foreign Policy
A survey of U.S. foreign policy since World War II. American approaches to such issues as containment, detente, arms control, deterrence, international law, and foreign aid will be discussed. Students will also address issues of U.S. foreign policy formulation, including the roles of the public, Congress, and the president in the foreign policy process.
Prerequisite: POSC 170 or INST 170. This course is cross-listed as POSC 280.
Attributes: AMST Struct & Instit Elective, LAWP Policy Elective, Political Science Elective, Security Studies Course

281 American National Security Policy
Analysis of formulation and implementation of American national security policy within the context of American society and the international system. National security will not be considered simply in a military/strategic sense but as connoting the preservation of the core values of a society.
Prerequisite: POSC 170 or 120 or INST 170. This course is cross-listed as POSC 281.
Attributes: AMST Struct & Instit Elective, LAWP Policy Elective, Political Science Elective, Security Studies Course

282 Diplomatic History of the United States
Description and analysis of the nation's role in world affairs, from the earliest definitions of a national interest in the 18th century, through continental expansion, acquisition of empire, and world power, to the Cold War.
This course is cross-listed as HIST 282.
Attributes: Appropriate for First-Year, INST Diplomatic History Course, Social Sciences

283 Intelligence and National Security
This course provides a basic understanding of the history, organization, activities, limitations, and capabilities of the U.S. national intelligence community, and the role of intelligence in developing and executing U.S. national security policy. The course also examines the significance of intelligence for policymakers and planners, the legal issues surrounding intelligence practices; the relationship between Congress, the Judiciary, and the intelligence community; and the future of U.S. intelligence.Prerequisites: POSC 120 & 170/INST 170. This course is cross-listed as POSC 283.
Attributes: Political Science Elective, Security Studies Course

284 European Security
What security issues do European countries face? How are European countries, the European Union, and NATO responding to various threats? This course delves into the structure of European security, examines the security challenges confronted by Europe, and weighs the opportunities these challenges present for enhancing Europe's security and global leadership. Students will learn how European governments define security, formulate strategies, and implement policies to meet a host of traditional, transnational, and human security concerns.
This course is cross-listed as POSC 284. Prerequisite: 170/POSC 170.
Attributes: INST European Course, Political Science Elective, Security Studies Course

290 Selected Topics in International Studies
Special topics not usually studied in depth in course offerings are examined.
Prerequisite dependent upon topic. This course is cross-listed as POSC 290 when the topic is "Transatlantic Relations."
Attributes: Social Sciences

351 Gender and Development
This course examines the gender dimensions of economic development and globalization from the perspective of feminist economics. This perspective implies foregrounding labor, broadly defined to include paid and unpaid work, and examining gender differences in work, access to resources, and wellbeing outcomes, and how these are affected by macroeconomic policies and how gender inequalities are relevant for societal wellbeing. Since the early 1980’s economic globalization has been achieved on the basis of a common set of macroeconomic policies pursued in industrial and developing countries alike. These policies frame both the gender-differentiated impacts of policy and the initiatives that are implemented to reduce inequalities between men and women. The main objective of the course is to examine the impact of these policies on men and women in the global South (a.k.a. developing countries/Third World) on gender inequalities and to evaluate the policies/strategies for reducing gender inequalities and promoting the well-being of all people. The pursuit of these objectives will entail first a brief examination of the central tenets of feminist economics and an historical overview of the policy-oriented field of gender and development. Gender-differentiated statistics will be reviewed as they pertain to the topics under discussion.
Prerequisite: For ECON 351: ECON 288; For INST 351: ECON 288 or INST 200 or INBM 200; For WGSS 302: at least one WGSS course or ECON 288. This course is cross-listed as ECON 351 & WGSS 302.
Attributes: AMST Struct & Instit Elective, Global Diversity, INST World Economy & Developmt, Sustainability Connections, WGSS Intersect/Instit/Power, WGSS Transntl/Global Perspect, Writing in the Discipline

358 19th-20th Century European Diplomacy
European diplomatic history from the Congress of Vienna through World War II.
This course is cross-listed as HIST 358. Offered occasionally.
Attributes: INST Diplomatic History Course, Social Sciences

390 Topics in International Studies
Various topics of interest will be taught on an occasional basis.
Prerequisite dependent upon topic.

401 Interdisciplinary Seminar Research
Integrated the various disciplines in the major, normally involving the student's geographic area.
Attributes: Security Studies Capstone

404 Integrated Study
The purpose of the course is to help students review and integrate the diverse components of the International Studies major.
Prerequisites: senior standing in the INST major and prior completion of INST 401.