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Understanding the Global in Global Studies

Resource Person: Assis Malaquias, Associate Dean of International and Intercultural Studies and Associate Professor of Government

STL: Why is international or global study so important?

AM: It boils down to giving our students the tools, the skills and the knowledge necessary to have global competence. Our students will be interacting with people from other cultures throughout their lives and they cannot afford to be insular.

STL: Why is the University examining its programs in these fields?

AM: We're not exactly examining them; we're discussing how to strengthen them. International education has always been a hallmark of the St. Lawrence experience, and it’s important that it continue to be.

STL: What percentage of St. Lawrence students now study abroad?

AM: Right now, about 50 percent, including those who travel abroad for short periods, as a component of a course, or those who study independently, with grant funding.

STL: St. Lawrence doesn't require foreign language study. Will that become a requirement for studying abroad?

AM: Our programs are not language-immersion programs. They are designed to have students experience a culture that is not their own. Language is one component of a culture, but study of the culture doesn't hinge on it. Language is a lubricant, a facilitator, but it's not indispensable.

STL: What developments do you expect to take place at St. Lawrence, related to international study, in the next five years?

AM: St. Lawrence has a real institutional commitment to keep international education very close to the central mission of the University. There is a growing emphasis throughout the curriculum on global citizenship, and to understanding diversity of various kinds at the local, national and global levels.
The global studies program is very strong, and is growing. We have very strong area studies programs, too.

STL: What is the educational benefit of studying abroad?

AM: At the intellectual level, the student who graduates from St. Lawrence will have a stock of knowledge that will be demonstrably better than that of a student graduating from another school. Our graduates have a much better grasp of world events – the economic, political, strategic and human events – and how those events affect the community and the individual. Those with that knowledge can position themselves much better for employment opportunities.

STL: What kind of impact does an international experience have on a student?

AM: When you study abroad, you are exposed to challenges. You come face-to-face with issues of gender, equality, poverty, and so on. Our programs allow students to experience these challenges in a structured way, so that even if they are very timid, they will have the support necessary so that they will face the challenges and succeed.

Our students come back completely transformed. They have a certain level of maturity, and of confidence, both personal and intellectual. International study sharpens their outlook on life.

To read the Academic Strategic Planning Paper on international and global studies, visit and click on International/Global Studies at SLU.

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