Department drops World Systems class

liza Appelbaum

The International Studies Program will undergo a major overhaul just in time for next year’s freshmen.

The new program will have several changes, the biggest of which is that World Systems, a three-part class at the core of the program, will no longer be offered. Instead, the class will be rearranged, shortened to two quarters and renamed Global History.

Other changes include the addition of an optional honors-thesis program and the division of the major into thematic clusters. In the revised program, each student will choose from one of four themes on which to focus their studies.

“The current program is very general, and even a little diffuse,” said Frank Safford, director of the International Studies Program. “These are desirable developments.”

Safford and Kim Evon, program assistant and advisor for the International Studies program, spoke with 13 students Thursday in an information session to explain the changes and to answer questions.

According to Safford, students already in the program will be allowed to complete it or to switch over to the new, revised curriculum. He said students with questions can work with the department to determine which option makes the most sense for them.

“Everybody will be affected in some way,” Safford said. “I think the main effect is that it opens more options. Students can choose one program or another, they can choose a theme. There are just more choices.”

The addition of a minor to the program is also being considered, according to Safford. The minor was proposed, but Safford doesn’t know if it will be approved or when it could go into effect. As of now, international studies is available as an adjunct major.

According to Safford, the department began considering changes more than a year ago after requests came from University President Bienen to revise the program.

Safford said he hopes students will get a lot out of the new program, even though it will take a few years for it to be fully integrated.

“There’s a lot that has to be worked out,” he said.

Two more information sessions will be held, one on Friday at 1 p.m. in Swift 107 and one on Tuesday, April 25, at 5 p.m. in Kresge 2-145. The full revised curriculum can be found at

Students at the Thursday information session said the revisions are an improvement.

“The new program is more geared to what I was interested in,” said Allison Cook, a Weinberg freshman.

Cook, who has already declared her international studies major, has yet to take any of the core classes. She said she is glad she kept her options open because now she can consider taking the honors program and is more likely to study abroad. She said the changes make more sense for students and improve the program.

“They’ve condensed it in a way that makes it more interesting,” she said.

Reach Aliza Appelbaum at [email protected]