University to offer international studies degree next Fall

A new degree program to begin this Fall at Shippensburg University will provide students with skills needed to be successful in the global economy. 

The program, approved today (April 11) by the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, will allow the university to expand its current international studies (IS) program into a bachelor of arts degree in international studies. It will produce graduates with the skills to meet the challenges of an ever-changing, globally connected and interdependent world; and to meet Pennsylvania’s demand for workers capable of negotiating the links between the Commonwealth and the global economy. 

According to Dr. Barbara Lyman, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, “Through our newest degree in international studies, Shippensburg University offers a high-caliber program for intellectually curious students seeking international career credentials. Students pursuing this major will be taught by high caliber faculty with an impressive array of international expertise and experiences. 

“This focused yet flexible degree will produce graduates who are well prepared for the rapidly growing number of positions requiring international expertise. Many of these positions are emerging right here in south-central Pennsylvania in a state having what is considered the strongest international trade support program of any state in the country. Our proximity of only 100 miles to Washington, D.C., will also be a terrific advantage for our international studies majors seeking internships in and around the nation’s capital.” 

The program will include area studies, global studies, foreign language and study abroad/internship requirements. Over the past decade, the IS minor has been one of Shippensburg’s fastest growing academic programs, increasing from 14 students in Fall 2001 to 92 in Spring 2012. 

According to Dr. Jonathan Skaff, professor of history/philosophy and IS program director, the major is flexible enough to prepare students for careers in business, government or non-profit work in domestic or foreign settings.Many students and faculty have told me that they are eagerly anticipating the new major. Students who hope to pursue international careers are happy to have the major available to them. Faculty are also glad that the major will showcase the university's strong offerings in international studies as almost 70 faculty have international teaching interests or research expertise.  

The program builds upon Shippensburg’s current international studies minor and its more than 120 interdisciplinary offerings of international studies courses to meet the needs of existing students seeking greater curricular opportunities in international studies. Transfer students and veterans returning to college, especially those with international experiences, will be able to build upon their prior learning.  

The program will also use existing faculty and facility resources. In addition, the program will work in collaboration with two other PASSHE universities, California and East Stroudsburg, to allow Shippensburg students to take Arabic and Chinese courses.  

According to a feasibility study on the new program,  graduates of the program will help meet the workforce requirements of companies contributing to Pennsylvania’s $41 billion in annual exports, including multinational companies with headquarters or major operations in south-central Pennsylvania. In the Harrisburg-Carlisle region, exports contribute seven percent to local GDP and are one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy.  

Information on the program is available at /ism/.