Virtually no sector of contemporary American life is immune to global influences. Private organizations operate internationally in every area ranging from health and education to farming and cultural affairs. Developing a broad appreciation for the wide range of international problems and influences is the focus of the interdisciplinary major in international relations which combines course work from political science, economics, history, sociology, anthropology and geography. The study of foreign language beyond the college minimum is required. Because of the major's flexibility, students may also specialize in Latin American, African, Asian, European or Middle Eastern studies.
International relations historically concentrated on conflict among nation states or diplomacy, the efforts to avoid conflict. The field has increasingly shifted focus, however, to incorporate economic relations, environmental issues, cooperative behavior, problems of hunger and poverty, as well as the work of governmentally supported international bodies such as the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the World Bank, the Export-Import Bank, etc. Students have great flexibility in developing programs of study that focus on particular issues of interest, a valuable way to develop the kind of expertise needed to be competitive in the job market. In addition to government service, there are job opportunities in business, banking and finance. Another tier of opportunities exists in overseas voluntary agencies such as the Red Cross, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, the Sierra Club and organizations that maintain active international programs such as the AFL-CIO. A major in international relations also provides the broad training and skill development necessary for graduate study or law school.
Although internships are somewhat more difficult to arrange in international areas, students have worked summers in the State Department and other government agencies. Many lobbying groups maintain such opportunities, as well. Students may also participate in the Model United Nations program as a way to gain greater exposure to international issues, group problem solving and valuable role playing experiences.
For additional information contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, 347 Smith, or call (302) 831-2355.
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