Director's Welcome

 

I am pleased to welcome you on behalf of the LAS Global Studies program at Illinois. This is an exciting major that prepares students for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, in which global issues are more complex and more resistant to easy solutions than ever before. Our graduates are represented around the world in a wide range of careers where they are engaged in an amazing variety of interesting and consequential undertakings.

I assumed the Directorship of this fantastic Program in August 2017, but I have served on the Global Studies Faculty Advisory Committee on and off for more than ten years (going back to when it was still called International Studies). Recently, I also collaborated with former Director Tom Bassett and History Professor Roderick Wilson on a new gateway course for the sustainability track of the major. As a sociologist working in transnational and global sociology I have always felt very strongly about building a future for global studies at the University of Illinois. My own work has focused on environmental and food problems as they are impacted by globalization, with a primary focus on Eastern Europe and the European Union. I have enjoyed teaching many students with global studies major in my courses, and have found them to be the most engaged, best-informed and most ambitious students of all. This excellence is well reflected in the many amazing research projects that Global Studies majors undertake.

In my decades of research and teaching I came to realize that no single disciplinary perspective is adequate to explain or address the contested issues. Rather, it is necessary to understand the social, economic, political, geographic, cultural, and historical contexts in which the issue exists. Interdisciplinary approaches are needed. The LAS Global Studies major is organized around the core principle that an interdisciplinary education combining multiple theoretical perspectives with applied skills such as language, research and writing, and experiential learning is critical for the 21st century. We have designed this major to ensure that our graduates are prepared to excel in their chosen path.

As new Director, I look forward to building on the groundwork we have created over the past few years and continuing to innovate. We now offer a new undergraduate minor in Global Markets and Society for students interested in careers in the private, public, and non-profit sectors. Two undergraduate certificate programs, one in International Development and the second in Global Health, are growing rapidly with participants from across the campus. Our GLBL 298 short courses abroad take students to South Africa, Ecuador, Jordan, India, and the Bahamas to study a variety of subjects in the field. Our faculty routinely receive top marks from their students and are listed among the campus Teachers Ranked as Excellent list each semester. Our academic advising also gets top marks on the annual survey of graduating seniors. We are working closely with our student organizations to continue to offer valuable support and programs for research, internships, and career development to help them gain knowledge and experience for the future.

In addition, I have made steps with the generous funding of the Office for Undergraduate Research at our University and the creative help of our Area Studies Centers to create a robust research track for our students, so the data collection and analysis skills they acquire and research experiences they accumulate while enrolled in our major will render them the most coveted young candidates on an increasingly global job market.

It is an exciting time to be part of LAS Global Studies, and I hope that you will join us at Illinois. We are happy to answer your questions about how this major can help you reach your goals, please contact us to schedule a time to talk.

I am looking forward to working with these outstanding young men and women as the new Director of the Global Studies.

Zsuzsa Gille

Director, LAS Global Studies