Faculty approve new concentration

International Studies position will unify fields

by Kathy Khuu

Although it may be debatable as to whether or not Oberlin students can change the world, they now can at least study it. Beginning this week, students interested in international studies can formally register for an International Studies Concentration (ISC) to appear on their transcripts.

"The International Studies Concentration is not a major or minor, and anybody can sign up for it as long as they have another major, regardless of what it is," Professor of Politics Ben Schiff, chair of the International Studies Concentration Committee (ISCC) which was formed to create the concentration, said.

The ISCC consists of seven professors in the departments of East Asian Studies, Russian, African American Studies, History, Politics and Economics.

"The decision to offer an ISC came about because faculty have been discussing it for 12-15 years," Schiff said.

Plans for ISC began this Fall when the Educational Plans and Policy Committee (EPPC) created the ISCC to evaluate the need for the major.

"International studies was the first thing to come of Long Range Planning," President of the College Nancy Dye said. "You can internationalize by giving people opportunities to study abroad, but you can also think to yourself, how can you create an atmosphere of cosmopolitanism on campus?"

The requirements for the concentration include two core courses from the Politics and Economics departments, as well as a minimum of five additional courses from the ISC list and a second-year proficiency or its equivalent of an appropriate modern foreign language.

The committee examined other colleges offering similar types of programs and majors in order to formulate Oberlin's program.

One problem they addressed was the disunion of various courses within the discipline of international studies. The addition of the ISC is hoped to alleviate this disunion.

"Oberlin offers a wider range of courses than some colleges with International Studies and has a range of courses focusing on non-U.S. things, but there is no guide for students whose interests lie in this direction," Schiff said. "The ISC hopes to bring coherence to students wanting to focus on international studies, as well as provide faculty support and guidance."

Schiff said students wishing to sign up for the concentration can do so immediately by contacting a committee member.

Students have mixed feelings about the new concentration option.

"I'm really excited about it. I think it's a good idea," senior Priya Sangameswaran said.

"A lot of people have been pushing toward ethnic studies and this is a building block but it doesn't really address our needs. It's a softer version of attaining ethnic studies," senior Claudia vonVacano said.

Senior Alice Dei was not satisfied with just having an option for a concentration. "Eventually they have to turn it into a real major. But when?" she said.

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Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 8, November 7, 1997

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