A Message from the Department of International Studies

a stone Gothic building with a tower
Buckman Hall, home to the Department of International Studies

International Studies: Expand your mind; change the world!

The International Studies Department is one of the oldest and largest undergraduate programs in the U.S. that trains students in international relations, comparative politics, and related fields in a liberal arts environment. An entire academic department dedicated to international studies is unusual at an institution like Rhodes. For this reason and many others, our Department is a special place! 

The Curriculum

Our students develop into global citizens and leaders. The Department’s mission is to graduate well-informed, intellectually curious students who are skilled at thinking critically and analytically about international relations and comparative politics. Our graduates grasp the complexities of political life and appreciate the diversity of institutions, political cultures, and other features of political systems both at home and abroad.

The International Studies major comprises two distinct yet complementary tracks: Global Leadership and Regional Leadership. The first track includes thematic courses covering international law and organization, political economy, security, political demography, ecopolitics, human rights, religion and politics, women and politics, and other topics. The second track includes courses with a regional focus so that students become well versed in government and politics of Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.  Our majors are free to choose the courses that most interest them. Examples of electives include Politics of Migration, Population and National Security, Identity Conflict in Africa; China-Taiwan-U.S. Relations, Politics of European Integration, Weapons of Mass Deception: Political Propaganda in Film, and Politics of Social Movements and Grassroots Organizing.

International Studies majors graduate with a strong grasp of international relations and comparative politics theories. They gain valuable skills, such as research methods, writing, and public speaking. We encourage our majors to study foreign languages to facilitate travel, study, and work overseas and engagement with different cultures. The Department provides other unique opportunities, including study-abroad programs, internships both overseas and in Memphis, and opportunities for volunteering and community-based learning.

The Department also offers several popular interdisciplinary majors in collaboration with Economics, History, Political Science, and Russian Studies.

Our Faculty

International Studies professors have won awards for their teaching, research, and service to the College. Faculty contribute actively to both scholarly and policy debates; they put their connections in government, business, and policy-making communities to work for Rhodes students. 

Students appreciate the diversity, passion, and commitment of the Department’s faculty.  When asked to identify the strongest elements of the major in a 2017 survey administered to graduating seniors, one student wrote: “The professors’ ability to relate their passion for IS.” Another student underscored the rigor of our courses. Yet another student remarked that our curriculum effectively teaches students to think critically: “our majors could go into a variety of fields and adapt well because of the skills we learn in class.” Graduates also observed that the major “really makes you think beyond your own experience” and teaches students “to think critically and creatively and to above all take time to understand another’s perspective.”

In the 2018 survey, students identified our faculty as the Department’s “greatest assets” and describe them as “invested” in student learning, “supportive,” “accessible,” and diverse. One senior concluded, “It’s an amazing network to be a part of, and they are all super dedicated to the students.” 

IS faculty are proud contributors to interdisciplinary programs on campus, including Africana Studies, Asian Studies, Environmental Studies/Sciences, Latin American and Latinx Studies, Political Economy, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Urban Studies.

After Rhodes

International Studies prepares students for careers in government, law, journalism, the non-governmental sector, education, business/finance, international diplomacy, human rights, and development, and much more. IS majors have received Fulbright grants, Watson Fellowships, and other prestigious awards. Our graduates have earned advanced degrees from top universities, such as Columbia, Georgetown, Harvard, Vanderbilt, University of North Carolina, Tulane, and University of Pittsburgh, among others. They have entered the Foreign Service, joined the Peace Corps, worked on Capitol Hill, risen to prominence within non-profits, and founded their own businesses.

Follow the links on this website to discover how our current and former students embody our Department’s motto: “Expand your mind; change the world!”

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