The Major in International and Area Studies — Concentration in Global Cultural Studies

The IAS concentration in global cultural studies focuses on the practical and theoretical issues arising from cross-cultural encounters around the world. Students will study these by both examining traditional cultural products (e.g., literature, film, visual art, music) and investigating their broader political and social contexts. This concentration addresses compelling issues of cultural interchange for students interested in cultures for their own sake as well as in careers in NGOs and international business and law. This program is committed to interdisciplinary approaches to contemporary problems. Students may take courses in the traditional language and literature disciplines as well as in anthropology, art history, film, history, music, and philosophy.

This concentration requires 36 units of course work:

  • 6 units of disciplinary introductions and methods course work (100-200 level)
  • 6 units of world area course work (any level)
  • 24 units of advanced course work from a minimum of three different academic disciplines (at least one course must focus on gender, race, or class, and at least two courses must be at the 400 level)

Additional requirements and regulations:

  • Students must receive a grade of C+ or higher in all IAS courses. All courses taken for IAS credit must be taken for a letter grade, including language courses.
  • Students must fulfill the standard IAS foreign language requirement: the successful completion of four semesters of one language appropriate to their concentration (more details below).
  • Students must complete one semester of language before declaring the major.
  • We strongly encourage students to study abroad. For those students who do not study abroad, an additional 3-unit course at the 300 or 400 level is required.
  • We strongly prefer students to select a study abroad location consistent with their chosen language of study (e.g., students who wish to study in Latin America must satisfy their language requirement with either Spanish or Portuguese).
  • Throughout the course of completing the major, students must show depth in at least one world area by taking a minimum of two courses focused on the same area, and they must show breadth by taking a third course focused on a different area. We consider world areas to be Africa, East Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, North America, and South Asia.
  • Students must choose their upper-level course work from a minimum of three academic disciplines (e.g., anthropology, art history, film, history, languages and literature, music, political science).
  • No more than 12 total credits earned outside of the day school of Washington University may be applied to a student's IAS major. This limit includes credits from study abroad experiences (never more than 6 credits from a single semester, 3 from a summer, or 12 from a year), University College, summer school from another U.S. university, or any combination thereof. (All 400-level credits must be earned on campus or in Washington University courses taught abroad.)
  • All advanced credits counting for the IAS major must be unique to the IAS major.
  • At least 6 credits must be at the 400 level.

Note: A single course may satisfy more than one of the distribution requirements (i.e., disciplinary; race, gender, or class; or world area). Some of these requirements may be completed while abroad.

Disciplinary introductions and methods (choose two from this list,* for a total of 6 units):

AFAS 255Introduction to Africana Studies3
Anthro 160BIntroduction to Cultural Anthropology3
Art-Arch 111Introduction to Asian Art3
Art-Arch 113History of Western Art, Architecture & Design3
Art-Arch 215Introduction to Modern Art, Architecture and Design3
Comp Lit 211World Literature3
Econ 1011Introduction to Microeconomics3
Econ 1021Introduction to Macroeconomics3
Film 220Introduction to Film Studies3
FYP 116Ampersand: Geographies of Globalization and Development3
FYP 117Ampersand: Global Population on the Move: Refugees, Resettlement, Education, and Advocacy3
History 1500Silver, Slaves and the State: Globalization in the 18th Century3
History 164Introduction to World History: The Second World War in World History3
History 1640Health and Disease in World History3
History 270Globalization and its Discontents3
IPH 175First-Year Seminar: Seeing is Believing: Visuality, Power, and Truth3
IPH 207CAmpersand: Modern Political Thought: Text and Traditions3
IPH 312Introduction to Digital Humanities3
IAS 103BFirst-Year Seminar: International Public Affairs3
IAS 127Migration in the Global World: Stories3
IAS 155First-Year Seminar: Mapping the World: Introduction to Human Geography3
IAS 207Crossing Borders: An Introduction to Institutions and Concepts in International and Area Studies3
Introduction to Literature courses as appropriate (English, Comp Lit or foreign language)3
Music 1021Musics of the World3
Phil 120FProblems in Philosophy3
Phil 131FPresent Moral Problems3
Pol Sci 103BInternational Politics3
SOC 2010The Roots of Ferguson: Understanding Racial Inequality in the Contemporary U.S.3
WGSS 100BIntroduction to Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies3
WGSS 206Sexuality and the State: Introduction to Sexuality Studies3

World area courses:

Throughout the course of completing the global cultural studies major, students must show depth in at least one world area by taking a minimum of two courses focused on the same area, and they must show breadth by taking a third course focused on a different area. We consider world areas to be Africa, East Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and South Asia.

Of these three courses, one must be at the advanced level, and it will be counted toward the 24 credits of advanced work needed to complete the major.

The other two courses may be taken at any level; however, if advanced courses are used to fulfill any of these 6 credits, they will not also be counted toward the required 24 credits of advanced course work. Examples of lower-level courses that may be used to satisfy this requirement include the following:

AFAS 162First-Year Seminar: Contextualizing Problems in Contemporary Africa3
AFAS 178First-Year Seminar: Imagining and Creating Africa: Youth, Culture, and Change3
AFAS 209BAfrican Studies: An Introduction3
AFAS 2230The African Diaspora: Black Internationalism Across Time and Space3
AFAS 255Introduction to Africana Studies3
AMCS 250Topics in Asian American Studies: Intro to Asian American & Pacific Islander Studies3
East Asia 227CChinese Civilization3
History 102CWestern Civilization3
History 2157First-Year Seminar: The Meaning of Pakistan: History, Culture, Art3
IAS 111First-Year Seminar: The Vietnam Wars3
IAS 135First-Year Seminar: Chinatown: Migration, Identity, and Space3
IAS 140East Asia in the World3
IAS 229Modern European History: Migrations, Nation States, Identities3
IAS 244Introduction to European Studies3
Japan 226CJapanese Civilization3
JIMES 208FIntroduction to Jewish Civilization: History and Identity3
JIMES 210CIntroduction to Islamic Civilization3
Korean 223CKorean Civilization3
LatAm 165DLatin America: Nation, Ethnicity and Social Conflict3

Advanced courses: Students choose eight courses from current, relevant, internationally-focused course offerings in the following departments.* All courses must be approved by the student's IAS adviser in order to count for the major. Visit the concentration webpage and master course list for the full list of options.

  • African and African-American Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Art History
  • Children's Studies
  • Classics
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Film and Media Studies
  • History
  • Interdisciplinary Project in the Humanities
  • International and Area Studies
  • Jewish, Islamic and Middle Eastern Cultures
  • Languages and Literatures
  • Latin American Studies
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Psychological and Brain Sciences
  • Religious Studies
  • Sociology
  • Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Additional Information

Language Requirement for the Major in Global Cultural Studies/International and Area Studies: All IAS majors must satisfy a foreign language requirement that entails the successful completion of four semesters of one modern language appropriate to their concentration while at Washington University. For some students, this may mean the first four semesters of a modern language; for others who place into advanced language classes and who receive approval from IAS language faculty, this may include literature, culture, oral communication, or linguistics courses in the target language, once such students complete the basic language sequence. Students must complete one semester of language to be eligible to declare the major in IAS.

Students are encouraged to study more than one language at Washington University, but they must satisfy their IAS language requirement by demonstrating competence in at least one modern language through the fourth semester. Available languages include Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swahili. Students should consult the course listings for details about the language sequences. (On the "A&S IQ" tab, click on "Courses," and then toggle "Area Requirement" to "LS Language & Cultural Diversity-Language" and click "Search" to see a list of available language courses.)

Special note for Spanish speakers: The following Spanish courses are not part of the regular sequence that are counted toward the four semesters of foreign language: Intermediate Spanish Conversation and Culture (Span 223), Business Spanish (Span 351), Medical Spanish (Span 353), and Spanish for the Social Sciences (Span 355). Some students might find these courses valuable for other reasons. For questions about this, students should consult with their major adviser.

Advanced foreign language courses in literature and culture used to satisfy the foreign language requirement may be counted as advanced credit for IAS majors as long as they are cross-listed with or approved for study abroad credit for the student's IAS concentration and provided the courses are not being counted toward any other degree.

Language courses taken to fulfill the IAS language requirement may count toward another major or minor unless they are being counted as advanced elective units for the IAS major requirement.

Students With Prior Language Experience

Native speakers of a foreign language: Students must satisfy the four-semester requirement in another language appropriate to their concentration.

Heritage speakers who do not have a native level of fluency: Students must seek appropriate placement by the coordinator of the language program and complete the four-semester requirement.

Transfer students who have taken language courses: Students may receive credit for the courses as part of the four-semester IAS foreign language requirement only if a placement exam is taken upon arrival at or return to Washington University and the foreign language department determines that the student may progress to the next highest level of language instruction.

Students who take a foreign language course at another institution (whether in the United States or abroad): Students may receive credit for the course as part of the four-semester IAS foreign language requirement only if (1) the credit is transferred back as Washington University credit; and (2) students take a placement exam upon their return to Washington University and the foreign language department determines that they may progress to the next highest level of language instruction.

Study Abroad: Majors are strongly encouraged to study abroad in one of Washington University's Overseas Programs during junior year or the summer. Some credit for courses taken abroad may be applied toward the major. For those students who do not study abroad, an additional 3-credit course at the 300 or 400 level is required.

Senior Honors: Students must confidently expect to graduate with an overall grade-point average of 3.65 or higher in order to qualify for Senior Honors. Students should enroll in Preparation for IAS Honors Thesis (IAS 485) during the fall of senior year and in IAS Senior Honors Thesis (IAS 486) during the spring of senior year (under the corresponding section number of the faculty member overseeing the student's thesis).

Contact:Toni Loomis