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Special Major in Global Studies

Guidelines for a Special Major in Global Studies

Due to student demand, we are outlining our guidelines for completing a Special Major in Global Studies.

The total number of credits in the Special Major in Global Studies is 10-12, per the College’s guidelines. As outlined below, the Special Major in Global Studies consists of required courses and electives.

The required courses are Introduction to Global Studies (GLBL015) and foreign language study for all Special Majors in Global Studies and several Economics courses and a course in Statistics for certain concentrations within the Special Major. These courses are geared toward ensuring the student’s substantive immersion in the relevant topics of global studies, as well as gaining general skills required in understanding the impact of global issues. They also intend to aid the student in their future endeavors.

In addition, the electives—comprising 6-8 “core” or “paired” GLBL-eligible courses—offer specialized electives organized around one of the many themes within the field of Global Studies. The student should always refer to the website for the most up-to-date information and email the coordinators with any questions.

Requirements for the Special Major in Global Studies:

  1. GLBL015: Introduction to Global Studies. We strongly advise students take this course in their first two years as it will provide a synthetic overview of different topics and will enable them to discover their interests, thereby helping with the thematic organization of their elective courses.
  2. Foreign language study
  3. 6-8 “core” or “paired” GLBL-eligible elective courses organized around a theme, with the theme justified in the student’s Sophomore Pathway paper and later revisited in the student’s Senior Reflection Exercise.
  4. The student is allowed to take up to one of the above electives in affiliated institutions Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and UPenn) or another institution with the Coordinators’ permission, including from an off-campus study program.
  5. It is the student’s responsibility to take all prerequisites for any suggested courses.
  6. The students should not be taking more than 6 credits in any one Department.

What is a theme?

A thematic organization of the student’s 6-8 elective courses ensures the student has a clear, easily communicable focus in their examination of global issues. A theme identifies and concentrates on the core fields and approaches within the growing area of Global Studies. A theme will attend to comparative historical and contemporary engagements with and consequences of transnational and global phenomena, processes, institutions, and representations of these interactions. This means that the theme will encompass different disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses the student needs to take to fulfill the special major. These courses might provide divergent angles of a topic, study the same phenomenon from different disciplines, or provide the application of an issue (such as economic development) to different areas of the world (e.g., West Africa and East Asia). The goal is for the student to have both breadth and depth in their choice of a theme with tightly connected courses.

We recommend the following themes based on the state of the discipline of Global Studies, but remain open to the student petitioning a different theme if the student can make a strong case that an adequate number of courses exist to fulfill the theme. In this case, the student must describe the theme as well as list the courses they wish to take, paying close attention to course scheduling. Student designated themes cannot replicate existing majors in the College.

Possible Themes and Examples of Elective Courses

While we list possible themes here, if the student chooses these themes, then the student is responsible for fulfilling the requirements under the theme. If the student petitions to do their own theme (see above), the Coordinators retain the right to require specific courses to ensure the student’s coursework is rigorous and meets the expectations of the field of Global Studies.

1. Global Studies Special Major in Urban Studies

This theme, geared toward the study of global urban issues, connects local and global phenomena around the growth of cities. It focuses on transnational interactions between states and cities with an emphasis on the role of refuge-seeking in the growth of cities, the role of mayors in global governance as well as the role of architecture and infrastructure on urban expansion. Students are encouraged to develop both a historical as well as a contemporary understanding of urban growth in the era of the anthropocene (including but not limited to built space and human, animal, plant interactions; climate impact on cities; population studies; and geography).

GLBL-eligible courses that fit the theme well include (but are not limited to): ARTH66: Race, Space and Architecture or ARTH155 Modern Architecture and Urbanism or ARTH73 Global History of Architecture; EDU68: Urban Education; FREN116: La pensée géographique; HIST90E: On the Other Side of the Tracks: Black Urban Community; ENVS43: Race, Gender, Class, and the Environment; PHYS1C: Earth’s Climate and Global Warming; POLS28: The Urban Underclass and Public Policy; SOCI37C Racial Geographies or SOCI48L: Urban Crime and Punishment; SPAN69: Cartografías urbanas; one course in the Cities program at Bryn Mawr(optional).

2. Global Studies Special Major in Global Political Economy

This theme is ideal for students, who do not wish to pursue a double-major in Political Science and Economics, but would like to still focus primarily on those two disciplines and adjacent ones, to pursue a focus on understanding, explaining, and studying the global political economy, including foreign economy policy of countries and opportunities as well as tensions that arise from these policies, issues of economic development, and the impact of the economy policies on societies and individuals.

1. Four courses in Economics (Econ 001 plus three additional courses):

a. Econ 001. Introduction to Economics is a prerequisite for other courses in the discipline. We will respect Economics’ decisions on waivers to this prerequisite.
b. Additionally, Econ 11 or Econ 21, and a course that bears directly on some aspect of global political economy.
c. If you have trouble taking Econ 11 and 21, please discuss with the Coordinators in a timely manner. The student is, nonetheless, required to take 3 Econ courses in addition to Econ 001.

2. Stat011. Statistical Methods – or higher (Stat021 or Stat041, if the student has met the departmental prerequisites).

a. Please note that Econ 31 also fulfills the Statistics requirement, i.e. if you have taken Econ 31, you don’t need to take Stat 011.

GLBL-eligible courses that fit the theme well include (but are not limited to): ANTH003G: FYS: Development and Its Discontents; ECON54: Global Capitalism Since 1920; ECON81: Economic Development; ECON151: International Economics; HIST36: Fascinating Fascism; HIST143: Political Economy of the Middle East: Theory & History; POLS47: Ethics and Economics; POLS66: International Political Economy.

3. Global Studies Special Major in Global Politics & Policies

This theme is ideal for students who wish to study global policies, issues, and politics from an interdisciplinary perspective, particularly exploring diverse perspectives on politics and the role of politics in knowledge and power production, such as those found in Political Science, History, Economics, Sociology, Anthropology, Art, Healthy Policy, Migration Studies, and other disciplines.  Themes such as colonization and decolonization may be particularly prominent in this theme, again from multiple perspectives, and with a view to focusing on different regions (as opposed to a singular regional focus). Students can choose a specific focus within this theme, such as global health, or opt for a broad approach.  We encourage the study of multiple methods and emphasize going beyond the GLBL language requirement.

GLBL-eligible courses that fit the theme well include (but are not limited to): ANTH 043E. Culture, Health, Illness; SOAN 020M. Race, Gender Glass and Environment; HIST 066.  Making Sense of Being Sick: the Social Construction of Diseases in the Modern World; ECON 075. Health Economics; HIST 67T. The Pandemic of Cigarette Smoking: Habit, Addiction and Public Health in the Big Tobacco Archives; ENGR 010. Fundamentals of Food Engineering; and PHIL 039. Existentialism.

4. Global Studies Special Major in Global Histories, Cultures, Arts

This theme is ideal for students who wish to understand the interconnected nature of the histories and cultures of the world: ancient, early modern and postcolonial global contacts, historical and contemporary understandings of the entanglement of visual/linguistic/literary cultures in empire through decolonization.

GLBL-eligible courses that fit the theme well include (but are not limited to): ANCH28: Ancient Egypt or ANCH44 The Early Roman Empire; ARAB23: Identity and Culture in Arabic Cinema; ARTH72: Global History of Architecture: Prehistory-1750 or ARTH94 Transnational Modernisms (1850s-contemporary); BLST33: African Cinemas; ENG72 Global Modernisms; FMST50: What on Earth is World Cinema; FREN113: Re-Contons l’histoire: Postcolonialité et fictions d’écriture françaises; HIST60: The East India Company, 1600-1857; LING25 Sociolinguistics: Language, Culture, and Society; LITR18FJ: Manga, Bande-Dessinée, and the Graphic Novel: A Transnational Study of Graphic Fictions; LITR52S: Afro-Caribbean Literature and Visual Culture; MUSI5A: Music and Dance Cultures of the World or MUSI31: Music and Culture in East Asia.

5. Global Studies Special Major in Human Mobilities, Migrations, Diasporas

This theme is ideal for students who wish to understand the history, politics and rights behind the movement of people and diasporas, and the forces (political, climatic, economic, etc.) that give rise to displacements across the globe, as well as the literary and visual expression of this movement. This theme can explicitly bridge scientific, social scientific and humanistic approaches to analyzing movement across the globe.

GLBL-eligible courses that fit the theme well include (but are not limited to): BIOL34: Ecology or BIOL137: Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning or BIOL009: Our Food; DANC25A: Dance and Diaspora; JPNS73: Transnational Japanese Literature: Diversity and Diaspora in Modern Japanese Literature; PHIL51: Human Rights and Atrocities; POLS4: Introduction to International Relations; POLS3: Politics Across the World; POLS31: Borders and Migration; RELG34: Partitions: Religions, Politics, and Gender in South Asia Through the Novel; SOCI35D Transnational Migration or SOCI35E Immigration, Race, and the Law; SPAN60: Memoria e identidad or SPAN87: Cruzando fronteras: migración y neoliberalismo en el cine mexicano.


Students requesting to complete a Special Major in Global Studies will need to complete a Global Studies Special Major Application and an Individualized Special Major form. The Individualized Special Major form should be submitted to Cheryl Sharp or Deb Sloman for review.