International and Area Studies

Sinha (African Studies); Cherem (At-Large); J. Dugas (Director);
Elman (Western European Studies); Frost (East Asian Studies); Valle (Latin American Studies)

This program is designed for students who have strong international and regional (area studies) interests and wish to pursue these interests systematically in their academic studies. The program reflects the belief that several kinds of skills and knowledge are essential for understanding the contemporary global system. The first of these is the ability to analyze issues that are global—issues that pertain to the interrelationships among the peoples and states of the world. The second is skill in making explicit, systematic comparisons between dimensions of political, socioeconomic, or cultural life in two or more societies, as well as acquiring the special kinds of insights resulting from such comparative analysis. The third is in-depth knowledge of a particular area of the world—its geography, history, culture, and institutions. These areas may be a state, a subcontinent, or a broader geographic region.

With a mix of courses providing global/comparative and area-specific knowledge, mastery of a second language, study abroad, the IAS sophomore and senior seminars, and a discipline-specific major or minor, students majoring in International and Area Studies should be well prepared to live in and to make sense of the interdependent system of states and regions that make up the modern world. They will also have received a solid foundation for graduate study and/or further training for careers in the international realm.

The program in international and area studies is open to all students.

In addition to meeting formal requirements, majors are urged to consider doing an international or area studies oriented SIP and/or an international internship in consultation with the Center for Career and Professional Development.

Requirements for the Major in International and Area Studies

Number of Units

Ten units are required, not including language courses or the SIP.

Required Core Courses

  • Any History course in an area different from the student’s area of geographic study
  • ANSO 103 Introduction to Society and Culture
  • ECON 101 Principles of Economics or POLS 375 International Political Economy
  • IAST 290 Sophomore Seminar (Does NOT fulfill the Shared Passages Sophomoe Seminar Requirement)
  • IAST 490 Senior Seminar
  • POLS 106 Introduction to Comparative Politics or POLS 107 Introduction to International Politics

Other Requirements

  1. Area-specific courses: Four (4) courses from at least two different disciplines focusing on a specific area or region (see lists of acceptable courses in each geographic area below). Prior to going on study abroad, an IAS major must pass two courses in her/his area of geographical specialization (in addition to foreign language courses).
  2. Foreign Language proficiency: Proficiency in a foreign language appropriate to the student’s geographical area of study at a level equivalent to five (5) units, typically two (2) courses beyond the intermediate level. Literature courses may also count as area-specific courses. This must be a modern spoken language. (This does not preclude a student’s also studying an ancient language). A student seeking to fulfill this requirement with a non-traditional language must first petition the Director of the IAS major.
  3. Study abroad: IAS majors must complete a long-term (6-unit) or extended-term (9-unit) study abroad program in their geographical area of study. Long-term participants may apply one area-specific course and extended-term participants may apply two area-specific courses from study abroad toward the major.
  4. Cognate Minor or Major: IAS majors must have a non-interdisciplinary minor or second major. Students may double count courses toward the fulfillment of a cognate minor or toward a second major.
  5. Comprehensive examinations: The written comprehensive examination for the major in international and area studies will include questions drawn from global and comparative courses and the area of geographical emphasis. Students will be expected to demonstrate an ability to integrate their experiences with a global perspective and to bring a multidisciplinary approach to the analysis and discussion of international and area issues and problems.

Potential majors should consult with the director early in their college careers to assure proper program planning and to obtain a list of appropriate courses.

Students are strongly encouraged to pursue a SIP that incorporates an international and/or area studies dimension.

In order to qualify for honors in the major, an IAS student must meet two of the following three criteria: a minimum of 3.5 GPA in IAS courses (excluding foreign language courses); honors in the senior comprehensive examination; honors on an IAS-related SIP.

Geographical Area of Study

Four units from at least two (2) different departments are required. Students in long-term study abroad programs may apply one area-specific course and students in extended-term study abroad programs may apply two area-specific courses toward meeting this requirement. However, a student must supply a syllabus and other detailed information about the content of any such course to the IAS program director, who will then determine whether or not it may count.

African Studies

  • AFST/HIST 104 Introduction to African Studies
  • AFST/POLS 248 Politics of Sub-Saharan Africa
  • AFST/HIST/WGS 272 Gender Relations in Africa
  • AFST/HIST 273 Atlantic Slave Trade
  • AFST/HIST/RELG 274 Islam in Africa
  • AFST/HIST/RELG 275/SEMN 274 African Christianity
  • AFST/HIST 276 Civilizations of Africa
  • AFST/HIST 277 Contemporary Africa
  • AFST/HIST 279 Special Topics in African History
  • AFST/ANSO 290 Africa in the Context of Globalization
  • AFST/FREN 455 Afro-Perspectives
  • ENGL-221 African Literature

East Asian Studies

Required Courses:

HIST 103 Introduction to East Asian Civilizations (only offered Winter Term)

Additional Electives:

  • ANSO/HIST 288 Sports in East Asia
  • CHIN/IAST 222 20th Century Urban China
  • CHIN 225 Traditional Chinese Literature in Translation
  • CHIN 235 Modern Chinese Literature in Translation
  • CHIN 245 Chinese Film
  • CHIN 250 China from the Borders
  • CHIN 260 Women in Modern China
  • HIST 280 Modern China
  • HIST 282 Early China
  • HIST 283 Occupiers/Occupied in Post-World War II East Asia
  • HIST 285 Modern Japan
  • HIST 289 Special Topics in East Asian History
  • HIST 397 Seminar in East Asian History
  • JAPN 236 Pre-Modern Japanese Literature
  • JAPN 237 Japanese Literature in Translation: Tokugawa (Early Modern)
  • JAPN 238 Post-war Japanese Literature in Translation
  • JAPN 239 Modern Japanese Literature in Translation
  • JAPN 240 Japanese Culture Through Film
  • JAPN 245 Japanese Language in Society
  • JAPN 250 Manga/Anime and Gender in Modern
  • JAPN 255 Japanese Science Fiction
  • RELG 150 Buddhism in East Asia
  • THEA 290 Asian Theatre

Latin American Studies

Not more than one of the following courses on colonial Latin America can count toward meeting the Latin American Studies requirement:

  • HIST 239 Gender and Sexuality in Colonial Latin America
  • HIST 291 The History of Latin America in Colonial Period
  • SPAN 475 Conquest, Colonization, and Independence

Any of the following courses can count toward meeting the Latin American Studies requirement:

  • ANSO 234 Latin America in Global Context
  • POLS 245 Politics of Latin America
  • RELG 122 Religions of Latin America
  • SPAN 401 The Spanish-Speaking World on Film (when the topic is Latin America)
  • SPAN 435 Advanced Literary Studies (when the topic is Latin American literature)
  • SPAN 445 Visual Practices in Latin America
  • SPAN 455 Limits of Genre (when the topic is Latin America)
  • SPAN 480 Constructing Spanish-America
  • SPAN 485 Undoing the Nation: Contemporary Cultural Manifestations
  • SPAN 492 Spanish-American Seminar

Western European Studies

Given the richness of the College curriculum related to modern Europe, the requirements for European area studies are somewhat more specific than are those for other areas. In particular, students must choose two courses (from different departments) that deal with modern Europe and two courses that relate to a specific nation.

Modern Europe

Two units from different departments.

  • ARTX 150 Survey of Art II: 1600-1945
  • ARTX 223 The Long 19th-Century Art
  • HIST 254 History, Memory, and Identity in Modern Europe
  • HIST 259 Special Topics in Modern European History
  • HIST/RELG 263 Jews in Changing Europe
  • HIST 394 Seminar in Modern European History
  • PHIL 109 Existentialism
  • PHIL 207 18th-Century Philosophy
  • PHIL 208 19th-Century Philosophy
  • POLS 231/SEMN 209 The Politics of Rights & Immigration
  • POLS 270 The European Union: Institutions, Actors, Aliens, and Outcomes
  • POLS 330 The Politics of the Holocaust
  • POLS 335 The Politics of Contemporary Antisemitism
  • THEA 280 The Theatre of Revolt: Modernism and Post-Modernism in Western Theatre

British Studies

ENGL 265, 266, 268 (British Literature), 435 (when the topic is British literature)

French Studies

  • ARTX 223 The Long 19th-Century Art
  • FREN 301 (when the topic is French literature), 401 (when the topic is French culture), 435 (when the topic is French literature), 490 (French literature
  • HIST 244 French Revolution and Napoleon

German Studies

  • GERM 200 (German film, taught in English)
  • GERM 301, 410, 420, 430, 435, 490 (German literature and cinema)
  • GERM 470 Contemporary German Culture

Spanish Studies

  • SPAN 401, 435, 455 (when the topic is Spanish culture)
  • SPAN 465, 470, 491 (Spanish literature)

International and Area Studies Courses

IAST22220th-Century Urban China This course interrogates literary and cinematic representations of Chinese cities in the twentieth century. By examining urban narrative in Chinese fiction, drama, poetry and film from the Republican and People's Republic periods, this class offers a new understanding of Chinese modernity as marked by its unique urban sensibilities and configurations.
IAST290Sophomore Seminar The sophomore seminar in international and area studies is intended to provide an opportunity for IAST majors to bring their skill in comparative study and their knowledge of a specific area of the globe together around a common theme. Students will compare the regional and area similarities and differences with regard to the topic of the seminar as well as develop increased expertise in their area of focus through exploration of the seminar topic's ramifications in that region. While specific topics change from year to year, possible topics include, but are not restricted to hunger, war, the environment, international relations, population and migration, human geography and ecology, race and class, religious fundamentalism, the literature of women, and the literature of war. This course does NOT satisfy the Shared Passages Sophomore Seminar requirement.Prerequisite: Sophomore IAST Majors Only
IAST290Immigration Politics According to the UN Charter of Fundamental Rights, one has a fundamental right to leave one's country of origin (1948, Article 13), yet there is no corresponding right to enter another country. This seminar considers the consequence of this tension with attention to normative questions of who should be allowed entry to and citizenship within (other) states and explores the empirical complexities that inform and result from these judgments. This course does NOT satisfy the Shared Passages Sophomore Seminar requirement.
IAST490Senior Seminar Consideration of issues and problems affecting the global whole and the various geographical areas of the world through focusing on a broad topic or theme; emphasis on discussion of the topic and problems from a broadly interdisciplinary perspective. Specific topics will change from year to year. For 2019-2020 our focus is on human rights theories and practices.Prerequisite: Senior IAST Majors Only
IAST593Senior Integrated Project Each program or department sets its own requirements for Senior Integrated Projects done in that department, including the range of acceptable projects, the required background of students doing projects, the format of the SIP, and the expected scope and depth of projects. See the Kalamazoo Curriculum -> Senior Integrated Project section of the Academic Catalog for more details.Prerequisite: Permission of department and SIP supervisor required.