New global studies major offers the world

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November 23, 2016

When Laura Kline was in the third grade studying geography in Toledo, her teacher told her class that Russia was a country of slaves and robots. In the seventh grade, Kline became obsessed with the Russian Revolution and read every book about it in the city’s libraries. In 10th grade, in the midst of the Cold War, she went on a 10-day class trip to Russia. It was then she realized her teacher and many of the books she had read hadn’t given an accurate portrayal of the country and its people.

Today, Kline is a senior lecturer in Russian and director of Wayne State’s new Global Studies program.

“Global studies is about giving students an accurate picture of what is going on in the world,” said Kline. “Who knows, it could prevent another Cold War.”

Students interested in understanding and being active participants in a globalized world can now earn a major or minor in global studies. Kline encourages students to consider pursuing a double major with global studies and another discipline.

“It’s important to fight against isolation of disciplines,” said Kline. “For example, if you just study geology, you may not understand how it plays in politics and world affairs. The Department of State is desperate for people in the natural sciences that have a broader understanding of cultural and societal implications.”

Earning a B.A. in global studies requires 33 credits, including nine credits from three core courses and a minimum of nine credits in a foreign language. Students must also fulfill one of three global experience requirements:

  • An internship at a local agency that deals with global issues or is a global organization or company
  • Study abroad or internship abroad
  • Field work or study abroad that is part of a specific course

The study abroad requirements support President M. Roy Wilson’s call in September's University Address to double the number of Wayne State students that study abroad by 2021. In 2015, nearly 650 WSU students studied abroad in more than 20 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

“I can’t overstate the impact international exposure has had on my personal and professional life,” Wilson said. “I believe that every Wayne State student should have the opportunity to study abroad. I understand that may not be practical for a number of reasons. But let’s aim higher.”

The new program also aligns well with the university’s new strategic plan and mission statement “to create and advance knowledge, prepare a diverse student body to thrive, and positively impact local and global communities.”

Wilson and Kline say when they leave Wayne State, students should be ready for anything the world throws at them.

Kline says curricula that require students to think critically about how globalization impacts different cultures and regions around the world and studying a foreign language are not just fun and interesting, they might help students get a job. When hiring, the federal government gives top priority to veterans. The second priority goes to those who can speak a foreign language.

“If you’ve studied abroad it shows employers that you can get outside of your comfort zone, that you’re open minded and that you won’t turn and run. It’s difficult, so if you’ve learned a foreign language, it shows dedication.”

The list of potential career paths for a Global Studies major is long.

If you’re interested in learning more about getting a Global Studies minor or major, email Kline or Tonal Simmons or call 313-577-6240.