Global Studies Major

49 units


The global studies major offers a framework of study for students interested in the interrelations of peoples and nations. These relationships are diverse and complex, operate at different levels (economic, political, social, environmental, religious, and intellectual), and cross over political boundaries and geographical distance. Consequently, students in the major are able to explore global issues from a broader perspective than in traditional majors.

All students majoring or minoring in global studies must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 in all university coursework.


The mission of the global studies program is to attract and develop an exceptional group of world learners through a unique combination of individualized mentoring, multidisciplinary coursework, intercultural field work, and compassionate action. The aim is to form students with the global knowledge, intercultural grace, practical learning skills, and moral imaginativeness to support vocations dedicated to promoting God’s truth and justice in the world.

Learning Outcomes

The targeted outcomes for this program are as follows:

  1. Global awareness: Students articulate an understanding of the interconnections (social, economic, environmental) of the world community, along with the global conditions and systems that affect the well-being of human communities and ecosystems.
  2. Multidisciplinary understanding: Students demonstrate the use of various disciplinary perspectives and tools in identifying and analyzing the chains of cause and effect in relation to complex global problems, and to imagine alternative ways of addressing them.
  3. Perspective taking: Students demonstrate the ability to constantly question the source of their cultural assumptions and ethical judgments, leading to the habit of seeing things through the eyes of others.
  4. Transcultural identity: Students demonstrate the ability to transcend exclusive identification with one’s cultural and national group in order to attach concern to all people equally in the context of their nationality, race, or religion.
  5. Moral-spiritual intelligence: Students evidence the personal “heart” quality of empathy, inquisitiveness, initiative, flexibility, humility, sincerity, gentleness, justice, and joy within specific intercultural contexts.
  6. Ethical commitments: Students evidence the willingness to assume a fair share of personal responsibility for conditions that negatively affect the Earth and its inhabitants, with the confidence that they can arrest and reverse these conditions.
  7. World learning: Students demonstrate the ability to discover relevant local knowledge on issues of global significance through systematic observation, active listening, field-note writing, and structured reflection.
  8. Language development: Students demonstrate the ability to communicate in a foreign language with appropriate body language and sociocultural etiquette.
  9. Collaborative involvement: Students demonstrate the ability to apply cultural knowledge and practical skills in field projects that address community issues in partnership with local residents.
  10. Lifestyle change: Students identify their moral obligations in relation to the wider world and articulate ways in which they can adjust their lifestyles in order to “do justly” on a personal level.
  11. Faith integration: Students demonstrate an introductory ability to apply biblical insights to an interpretation of and response to human differences and various social problems.

Career Opportunities

This major is appropriate for students planning to pursue specialized graduate study and/or careers in community development, nonprofit management, world missions, social work, urban policy and planning, public diplomacy, urban education, and language education (e.g., TESOL). The employment market for individuals with foreign language ability, cross-cultural research skills, urban experiences, and multidisciplinary world knowledge is expanding rapidly.


The global studies major is much more than a traditional list of courses to complete. It is a dynamic, unfolding, and individualized set of learning experiences—some occurring within a formal classroom environment and others within domestic (local, regional) and international field settings. Students complete half of the 49-unit curriculum through two field study programs: one in central Los Angeles (L.A. Term) and the other within materially poor communities within Latin America, Africa, or Asia (Global Learning Term). In both settings, students are challenged to apply conceptual knowledge to an interpretation of complex social realities, and to do so while negotiating the stress of living and learning in unfamiliar milieus.

The major unfolds in the following five phases:

Phase 1: Multidisciplinary Coursework

Students entering the global studies program are assigned a faculty advisor who serves as a resource guide, mentor, and friend. During phase 1, students learn about themselves and the world by sampling the liberal arts (General Education), mixing with peers, and advising with faculty mentors. The gateway course to the major is GLBL 120 Contemporary Global Issues, which introduces key concepts in global studies, as well as forces and issues affecting global communities, such as urbanization, migrations, pluralism, wealth inequality, commodity production chains, climate change, and conflict. A primary focus is on cities in the Majority World. During sophomore year, students complete GLBL 201 Anthropology for Everyday Life. Students are equipped with a limited set of field-based culture-learning techniques for use in the L.A. Term and Global Learning Term programs. They learn how to conduct interviews, compose field notes, synthesize cultural information, and write an interpretative ethnographic account.

GLBL 120Contemporary Global Issues 13
GLBL 201Anthropology for Everyday Life 23

Meets the General Education Civic Knowledge and Engagement requirement. 


Meets the General Education Intercultural Competence requirement.

Phase 2: Los Angeles Term*

Los Angeles offers a rich and deeply challenging context for world learning. For an entire semester, students live with culturally different host families in central L.A., intern with advocacy-oriented community organizations, rely primarily on public transportation, and complete 15 units of interdisciplinary coursework. The coursework is rooted in the disciplines of urban sociology, social anthropology, and comparative religions, and aims to help students think systemically—to understand how local realities are shaped by broader demographic, political, economic, and cultural systems that operate at regional, national, and global levels. The curriculum includes:

GLBL 315Urban Society 13
GLBL 318Immigration and Integration 23
GLBL 345Urban Religious Movements3
GLBL 330Community Transformation6

Meets the General Education Civic Knowledge and Engagement requirement. 


Meets the General Education Intercultural Competence requirement. 


Admission to the L.A. Term program is dependent upon an application process through the Center for Global Learning and Engagement.

Phase 3: Pre-Global Learning Term (GLT) Preparation

The global studies program regards study and service in international settings as an extension of students’ prior engagement in local and regional settings. During Phase 3, students return to campus and begin formal preparations for their second off-campus term: the Global Learning Term (GLT). Several courses aim to bridge the domestic, multicultural learning of L.A. Term with the international, cross-cultural learning featured in the GLT. GLBL 320 Global Engagement in the 21st Century invites students to apply experiences and insights from the L.A. Term to a distinctively Christian understanding of and response to community-based global issues. In GLBL 305 Peoples and Places, students organize their GLT, first through an in-depth analysis of wealth inequality, service ethics, the intercultural adjustment process, and small-scale research design. They simultaneously set up field relations (family stays and internships) at their program site. In GLBL 465 Globalization and Development, students discuss basic principles fostering international development in poor communities and explore different specialties in preparation for their community internship on their GLT. Students also select a political science course (from four options) that challenges them to consider how different political histories and economic realities shape the way citizens think and act. This rounds out their pre-GLT preparation.

Phase 4: Global Learning Term (GLT)

While the GLT shares certain elements in common with conventional study away, there are some noteworthy differences. Students travel exclusively to sites in the Majority World (or to Majority World peoples in the Western nations, like North Africans in France) rather than to popular destinations in Europe or Australia. The average term extends 4-6 months in order to facilitate intensive language learning and cultural adaptation. Also, instead of being sequestered within a university compound, living in foreigner-only dorms, and going to special classes taught in English, students live with local families in marginal communities and complete contracted coursework in a self-directed manner. Conventional study away typically sends groups of 20-30 foreigners to foreign field sites. By contrast, GLT participants travel to their destination sites in groups of 2-4 students. They then live and serve independently in order to establish a social-emotional support system made up primarily of host nationals. Most of the decision-making responsibility rests on the students; there is no resident director orchestrating (and chaperoning) students’ daily activities. All of this lends a certain intensity to the experience, requiring GLT students to be self-motivated, self-organized, and morally self-regulating, as well as a bit intrepid.

GLT admission requirements are:

  • Positive recommendation from L.A. Term internship supervisors, host families, academic faculty, and program staff.
  • A passing grade in GLBL 305.
  • An overall minimum GPA of 2.5 maintained throughout the program.

The GLT curriculum fully immerses learners in the local context and is structured around three core and three elective courses:

Core Courses
GLBL 325Family Organization3
GLBL 335Global Internship6
GLBL 350Writing 3: Global Study Project3
GLBL 340Community Life3
GLBL 101Self-Directed Language Learning I4
GLBL 102Self-Directed Language Learning II4

Although courses are completed in a self-directed mode, they are highly structured and well supported by faculty advisors and in-field guides. A minimum residence of 4 months in a foreign community challenges them to adapt to a radically different way of life while also receiving the necessary support to successfully manage stress.

Phase 5: Reintegration and Application

Many students return from their GLT with life perspectives profoundly altered and may find it difficult to fit in. British anthropologist Victor Turner described this mental state as liminality, where students find themselves “betwixt and between” two ways of life. This can be a profoundly educative moment, a sacred space of possibility. Students are positioned, perhaps for the first time in their lives, to rethink their identity, faith, and personal lifestyle in relation to the larger world.

Student reintegration is facilitated by means of two final courses:

GLBL 425Integration and Formation Seminar1
GLBL 420Sustainable Societies 13

Meets the General Education Integrative and Applied Learning requirement. 

GLBL 425 Integration and Formation Seminar allows students to exchange stories, assess changes in themselves, and begin exploring various ethical dilemmas raised through their field experiences. GLBL 420 Sustainable Societies poses the ultimate question: How do we make, under God, a humane, just, and durable home in the world? Practical themes in the “sustainability conversation” are linked to cross-cultural field experiences and postcollege vocational planning.

Following their return from GLT, Students also have the opportunity to refine their GLT research (see GLBL 350 Writing 3: Global Study Project above) into a publishable product. They are invited to enroll in GLBL 499 Thesis/Project under their program advisor.


On-campus Coursework (22 units)
GLBL 120Contemporary Global Issues 13
GLBL 201Anthropology for Everyday Life 23
GLBL 305Peoples and Places3
GLBL 320Global Engagement in the 21st Century3
GLBL 420Sustainable Societies 33
GLBL 425Integration and Formation Seminar1
GLBL 465Globalization and Development3
Select one of the following:3
Comparative Politics
Regional Studies
Modern Africa
Modern Latin America
Los Angeles Term (all 15 units required)
GLBL 315Urban Society 13
GLBL 318Immigration and Integration 23
GLBL 330Community Transformation6
GLBL 345Urban Religious Movements3
Global Learning Term Coursework (12 units minimum)
Required Coursework
GLBL 325Family Organization3
GLBL 335Global Internship6
GLBL 350Writing 3: Global Study Project 43
Recommended Electives
Self-Directed Language Learning I
Self-Directed Language Learning II
Community Life
Other Recommended Electives
Comparative Economics
Intercultural Communication 2
World Civilizations Since 1648 5
Introduction to Sociology 6
Human Diversity 2
Qualitative Social Research Methods 4
Grant and Proposal Writing
Theology from the Margins 2
Total Units49

Meets the General Education Civic Knowledge and Engagement requirement.


Meets the General Education Intercultural Competence requirement.


Meets the General Education Integrative and Applied Learning requirement.


Meets the General Education Writing 3 requirement.


Meets the General Education History requirement.


Meets the General Education Social Science requirement.