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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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The international studies minor at SDSU is open to all undergraduates. (Photo by Artem Beliaikin / Pexels.) The international studies minor at SDSU is open to all undergraduates. (Photo by Artem Beliaikin / Pexels.)

A ‘Rethinking’ for International Studies Minor

Global research — a good resume builder — can be conducted without necessarily leaving campus.
By Gabriela Romero

Cross-cultural studies and comparative research on data from the U.S. and abroad are the focus of San Diego State University’s international studies minor (ISM), newly retooled for the pandemic era to allow students to fulfill their requirements without leaving the country.

The minor is offered through the College of Professional Studies and FIne Arts and is open to any major at SDSU. The program is led by associate professor Mei Zhong and advisor, Giancarlo Taylor.

Taylor said the minor nurtures the interest of domestic students and “provides a venue of studies for students who want to do a research project.”

ISM students enroll in two courses abroad where they select a topic and do cross-cultural study and design data collection methods. Students then take their capstone research and collect and analyze data from the U.S., to compare with their findings abroad. They then create a well-rounded final report with this data for presentation.

The ISM comprises six courses (18 units), four of which (12 units) are core courses. The program is designed for domestic students who have interest abroad, however, one of its courses, PSFA 280, is designed for international students’ interest in the U.S. and increase their retention rate.

Maile Orian, a graduate with an international studies minor, said her course work set her apart from other job applicants. “When I was applying for graduate programs and jobs, they all said the same thing: ‘Wow. An international Studies Minor. That’s very impressive,’” Orian said. “I received multiple job offers and graduate program acceptances.”

“The work world is changing fast and cultivating diversity has become a prominent theme within organizations,” Orian added. “More and more businesses — especially progessive and forward thinking ones — understand the importance of diversity and cross-cultural communication in everyday life.”

The minor was established at SDSU in 2009 offering global research pathways mainly through study abroad opportunities. However, COVID-19 led Zhong and Taylor to get creative to meet students’ needs.

“With COVID-19’s magnitude and the massive evacuations to return students home, a rethinking of the abroad experience became necessary,” Zhong said. “The ISM curriculum was adjusted to allow students to conduct research in alternative ways such as partnering with universities in the U.K. and Chile, participating in the Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) program, collaborating with international students at SDSU, or reaching communities in Little Italy.

The new approach also allows undocumented immigrant students or those with financial hardships to enroll in this minor without having to physically leave the country, Zhong noted.

Additional information on the International Studies Minor program can be found here.