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UW International Studies Program Takes Steps to Strengthen International Efforts

December 14, 2011

By Bridget Wilson, College of Arts and Sciences writing intern

The University of Wyoming is collaborating with community colleges across the state to extend international studies opportunities beyond UW.

The effort is funded by a three-year U.S. Department of Education grant to promote internationalization in Wyoming, says UW Political Science Professor Jean Garrison, International Studies Program director in the College of Arts and Sciences.

"We're bringing the world to Wyoming," says Garrison, who directs the grant project with Central Wyoming College (CWC) Professor Jim Thurman. "Internationalization makes people aware of how they fit into the world around them. Knowledge of others helps us understand ourselves and our values."

A few years ago, only Casper College and Laramie County Community College offered associate degrees in international studies. Garrison says the Department of Education grant has resulted in degrees offered by Northwest College and CWC. New international courses were offered at Sheridan College and Eastern Wyoming College.

"When students with an associate's degree in international studies transfer to UW, they can continue their major without having to backtrack on language classes or other core requirements," Garrison says.

In addition to these new degrees, eight new courses have been developed and 10 more are being developed. These courses will provide students with opportunities to study international issues and will include non-western political cultures and South Asian culture and language courses.

In the summers of 2010 and 2011, UW hosted two course development workshops to help community college instructors create new courses such as Irish Studies and Japanese language courses.

The Japanese language courses will be implemented in response to the interests of CWC students. The courses will be offered online so all Wyoming community college students will be able to take advantage of this educational opportunity.

"I believe in a liberal arts education," says Garrison. "The value of an internationally oriented liberal arts education is that you're providing students with a tool kit that helps prepare them for the ever-changing global context. From a global issues perspective, if you can sit in someone else's shoes for five minutes, you can better understand why they do what they do."

A new program aimed toward high school students, in addition to community college students, also is planned. In the spring of 2012, the UW International Studies program will host the Wyoming Model United Nations conference with the theme "Sustainable Development and Fostering Security in a Complex World." The conference includes topics such as the Palestinian statehood, protection of human rights and U.N. Security Council reform.

The International Studies program also has implemented a lecture series about foreign relations in the United States to foster understanding of globalization.

To learn more about the UW International Studies program, visit the Web site at




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