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Program of Study

The Global Studies major is an interdisciplinary major concerned with the interconnected and interdependent nature of the contemporary world. Its main task is to understand how sites, objects, and concepts contribute to worldwide connections, from ecological concerns to human rights campaigns. Students majoring in Global Studies will take courses throughout the College, often with particular interests in Anthropology, Environmental Studies, History, or a specific regional study.

Instead of beginning with “global” and “local," the typical categories of globalization studies, the Global Studies program contends that the distinctions between sites and trends, between objects far and near, and between the cosmopolitan and the vernacular emerge from empirical studies. Students are encouraged to exercise close attention to mundane practices, everyday materialities, and lived experiences. With a good grounding in case studies, students in the program are expected to be able to reflect upon the implications of their research interests, both inside and outside the classroom. Students carry these interests on to a variety of careers and professional opportunities following graduation.

Relationship to International Studies

The Global Studies major replaced the International Studies major following the 2016–17 academic year.

Program Requirements

Students must complete a total of 13 courses (including one approved elective and two BA seminars), a research activity, and a language requirement, broken down in the following manner:

Introductory Courses (2 courses)
All students are required to take the two-quarter introductory sequence to the major, GLST 23101-23102 Global Studies I-II. These courses are offered annually and in sequence in the Autumn and Winter Quarters. Students are expected to complete the sequence in their second year, if possible, especially if they plan to study abroad during their third year.

Thematic Tracks (8 courses)
The body of the major (eight courses in all) is comprised of courses selected from four overlapping thematic tracks of study. Students will select two tracks, a major and a minor one, and complete five courses in the former and three in the latter. The selection of the major and minor track should be linked to the student’s BA research interests. The tracks are outlined below with sample classes that might fall within each category, but more detailed information about these tracks may be found on the Global Studies website.

Bodies and Nature
This track focuses on bodily nature (broadly construed) and ecological relationships. Particular attention is paid to environmental and health-related topics, and not always with a focus on human beings. Themes could range from sustainability, ecotourism, and pandemics to modern beauty practices, health movements, and animal studies.

BIOS 13140 The Public and Private Lives of Insects
GRMN 24416 Biocentrism: The Concept of Life in German Literature and Art around 1900
ANTH 28210 Colonial Ecologies

Knowledge and Practice
This track focuses on the production and circulation of knowledge, with an eye towards how that process is situated. Often there will be a science and technology component, but other times habitual/instinctual know-how will be highlighted. Themes could range from regulatory standards, countercultural movements, and cultural artifacts to consumer politics and media studies.

HIST 24206 Medicine and Culture in Modern East Asia
ENGL 29202 Objects, Things, and Other Things
SOCI 20208 Internet and Society      

Cultures at Work
This track focuses on the entanglements of culture, economics, and politics. It focuses on cultural production, often of a physical nature, as well as cultural modes of reception. Themes could range from global brands, sweatshops, and rituals of food production/consumption to gaming and consumer politics. Much of “everyday life” would also apply.

ANTH 21725 Mass Mediated Society and Japan
GLST 24101 Paperwork
ECON 22650 Creativity

Governance and Affiliations
This track focuses on politics and claims to authority within power relations. It tries to stand a middle ground between extremes of privileging nation-states and solely valuing micro-sites of governance. Themes could range from UN agencies to online protests, humanitarian intervention to surveillance and corporate governance.

CRES 22150 Contemporary African American Politics
PLSC 27016 Popular Culture, Art, and Autocracy
PLSC 29500 Drugs, Guns, and Money: The Politics of Criminal Conflict

Elective (1 course)
Students will select one elective course to further their BA research, often late in their third or early in their fourth year. This course should be chosen after discussion with the program administrator, and can include:

  • A regional studies course that furthers the student's cultural and historical knowledge in their BA research topic
  • A research methodology course (e.g., ANTH 21420 Ethnographic Methods) that will equip the student for better collection of primary source materials
  • An introductory course in another major that has a direct connection to the BA research topic
  • A language course that will help the student read texts or interact with persons pertaining to their BA research topic

These options are not exhaustive and should only be used as guiding ideas for the elective requirement. Students should seek program approval for their choice of elective course before registering, and the elective should be completed before the Winter Quarter of the student's fourth year.

Research Activity Requirement
Students will be expected to complete a major activity or program exploring global issues as related to their intended BA project, often in an international setting.

This major activity might be:

  • An internship (academic year or summer)
  • A study abroad program, often through the Study Abroad office
  • A volunteer opportunity
  • A well-defined field research project

Students should work with the program administrator to identify appropriate opportunities and should have their activity approved ahead of the experience itself. Most activities should last no less than six weeks, though intensive programs with shorter durations may be considered.

The research activity should be linked to the student’s BA thesis and serve as an introduction to that topic. International experiences are encouraged for the completion of this requirement, but the requirement may be met with domestic projects dealing with global issues (for example, an internship with a domestic NGO).

BA Seminars and Thesis (2 courses)
Students are required to take the two-quarter BA seminar (GLST 29800 BA Thesis Seminar I and GLST 29801 BA Thesis Seminar II) in Autumn and Winter Quarters of their fourth year. The first BA deadline occurs during the Spring Quarter of a student’s third year. At that time, students must have submitted a topic proposal, secured a faculty reader, and completed a faculty reader form. The final version of the BA thesis is due by the second Friday of the quarter in which the student plans to graduate. Successful completion of the thesis requires a passing grade from the faculty reader.

The Global Studies major thesis must be clearly organized around a contemporary global issue. Students may double-major, but double-majoring with another program that also requires a BA thesis would entail (a) the second major's program accepting the Global Studies thesis as fulfilling that program's BA requirements or (b) the student completing an additional BA thesis for the second major.

Regardless of the requirements of the second major, Global Studies majors are required to complete both quarters of the fourth-year BA seminar. Thesis seminars from other major programs will not count toward the Global Studies BA Thesis Seminar requirement.

Foreign Language Requirement
The Global Studies language requirement can be completed in two ways:

  1. Students may complete the equivalent of seven quarters of language study in a single language. Credit for the seventh and final quarter must be earned by University of Chicago course registration. If the final term of study in a foreign language focuses on cultural studies, it may be used in an appropriate major or minor thematic track, as outlined above.
  2. Students may obtain an Advanced Language Proficiency Certificate, which is documentation of advanced functional ability in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. For details, visit the College's Advanced Language Proficiency page.

Summary of Requirements

GLST 23101-23102Global Studies I-II200
Five courses in a major thematic field500
Three courses in a minor thematic field300
GLST 29800BA Thesis Seminar I100
GLST 29801BA Thesis Seminar II100
One program elective100
Total Units1300


Students with an overall GPA of 3.2 or higher and an in-major GPA of 3.5 or higher will be eligible for honors. For the awarding of honors, the BA thesis must also be judged "high pass" by the faculty reader.


Students should select their courses for the Global Studies major in close consultation with the program administrator. The Global Studies program publishes a list of courses approved for the major each quarter, both online and outside the Global Studies program office, Gates-Blake 119.

Students should meet with the program administrator early in their final year to be sure they have fulfilled all requirements.


Students who are majoring in Global Studies must receive quality grades in all courses meeting the requirements of the degree program (i.e., they cannot use Pass/Fail or audited courses for major requirements).

Global Studies Courses

GLST 23101-23102. Global Studies I-II.

This is the Global Studies program’s core sequence, typically taken during a student’s second year. Global Studies I is an orientation course for students interested in majoring in Global Studies, while Global Studies II seeks to impart important theories and research practices through intensive, critical readings.

GLST 23101. Global Studies I. 100 Units.

The first course in the two-quarter Global Studies core sequence.

Instructor(s): James Hevia     Terms Offered: Autumn

GLST 23102. Global Studies II. 100 Units.

The second course in the two-quarter Global Studies core sequence.

Instructor(s): Jasarevic, Larisa     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): GLST 23101

GLST 24108. The Techno-Politics of Infrastructure. 100 Units.

At first glance the networks roads, pipes, wires and walls that make up infrastructure seem to be straightforward technical feats. When they work, they make our lives more convenient, enabling the smooth circulation of people, goods and energy. Yet this course turns a critical eye to these material networks, exploring the possibility that these technical feats are not passive or neutral but actively shape and transform modern life. As structures that organize modern life from most domestic spaces of the home to the most expansive circulations of the web, infrastructures are at once central nodes of power and control and possible platforms for new forms of social life. The dimensions of roadways determine which kinds of vehicles (private cars or large public buses) can travel on them thus mapping class relations onto the spaces of a city. The crumbling walls of public housing unite inhabitants in a shared nostalgia for a past time while also providing material means for resisting eviction. The course will focus on the ways in which state power is enacted through, and sometimes in tension with, increasingly privatized infrastructures.

Instructor(s): Sargent, Adam     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): ANTH 22160

GLST 24109. Prophecy and Insurgency in the British Empire. 100 Units.

Future historians may regard the early 21st century as an era of heightened religious tensions amidst a permanent state of emergency. America, in particular, has seemingly forsaken many of its ostensibly liberal values in favor of a reactionary security regime. But these anxieties and negotiations are hardly unique to the present. The history of the nineteenth and early twentieth-century British Empire is replete with millenarian movements and religiously motivated insurgencies that threatened to destabilize colonial rule. This course will not only familiarize students with key issues in the field of imperial history, but also encourage them to assess the nature of the historical sources themselves. Where possible, primary source texts and testimonies from Irish Fenians, Muslim intellectuals, Maori chiefs, the Pai Marire prophet Te Ua, and Hindu nationalists are included.

Instructor(s): Leonard, Zachary     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): HIST 21503

GLST 26806. Contact Zones: Japan's Treaty Ports, 1854–1899. 100 Units.

A series of treaties signed by the Tokugawa shogunate with Western powers in the 1850s designated port towns such as Nagasaki, Yokohama, Hakodate, and Kobe "treaty ports." Semicolonial sites in which Western citizens benefited from rights, such as extraterritoriality, the treaty ports were complicated places that both challenged Japan's sovereignty while also becoming conduits of economic, social, and cultural change. This seminar will explore the evolution of the treaty ports. The main assignment will be an original research paper on a topic of the student's choice.

Instructor(s): S. Burns     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): HIST 34213,EALC 24213,EALC 34213,HIST 24213

GLST 27703. Earthbound Metaphysics: Speculations on Earths and Heavens. 100 Units.

Social thought has recently reopened the subject matter of the “world”: what is it made of, how does it hold together, who and what inhabits it? Proposals and inquiries generated in response are as imaginative as they are self-consciously urgent: written on the crest of the global ecological disaster, from within the zones of disturbance or the sites of extreme intervention into the living matter and forms of life, contemplating the end of the world and possibilities of extinction, redemption, cohabitation, or “collateral survival” (Tsing 2015). All are variously political. Foregrounding the plurality of the material worlds and lived worldviews on the one hand, and of the shared historical predicament on the other, social thinkers question universal values and conceivable relations, and search for alternate forms of grasping, engaging, and representing the pluriverse. This course goes along with such interests in the “worlds” and collects a number of compelling, contemporary texts that are variously oriented towards cosmopolitics, “minimalist metaphysics,” “new materialisms,” speculative realisms, eco-theology, and multispecies coexistence. Readings will stretch out to examine some classic ethnographic texts and past theoretical excursions into the perennial problem of how to know and tell the unfamiliar, native, worlds, which are swept by, mingling with, or standing out in the more globalizing trends of capitalist, scientific, and secular materialism.

Instructor(s): L. Jasarevic     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): ANTH 25118

GLST 27704. The End Tales: Recounting, Retrieving the Altering Worlds. 100 Units.

The class seeks to explore diverse modes of recounting contemporary more-than-human worlds in the face of the dire future of the planet. Working under the rubrics of “environmental tragedy” (Foster 2015), Anthropocene (Nimmo 2015),  the “catastrophic times,” (Stengers 2015), and the “death of a civilization” (Dibley 2015), thinkers across the humanities and social sciences are honing conceptual resources for comprehending and communicating the consequences of the global political economy and lifestyle that destabilizes the biosphere, endangers wildlife, and fails to instill genuine changes in the face of the “dangerous, unpredictable, and potentially catastrophic climate change” (Foster 2015). The class  joins the cause but shifts attention to the empirical materials that insistently thread together the ecological with cosmological, practical with eschatological and metaphysical concerns. How can scholars listen to these overtones with a fresh attention? Could we repurpose them responsibly and productively for the task of telling and teaching about the present and contemplating the future? The class endeavors to find room for the vernacular and textual reservoirs of compelling storytelling about metaphysical meaning and cosmological relations that make-up and ruin the Earth that might be otherwise (dis)missed.

Instructor(s): Jasarevic, Larisa     Terms Offered: Spring

GLST 29610. Cultures and Politics of Water. 100 Units.

This course investigates the relationship between water, culture, and society in the global past. Instead of studying water from the natural science perspective, it places the cultural and political aspects of water at the center of the analysis, and posits the need for a long-term understanding of our contemporary water problems in a global context. The seminar draws on much empirical literature on the cultural and political dimensions of water in local contexts, and aims to relate them through the concept of globalization.

Instructor(s): James Hevia     Terms Offered: Spring

GLST 29700. Reading/Research: Global Studies. 100 Units.

This is a reading and research course for independent study not related to BA research or BA paper preparation.

Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Prerequisite(s): GLST 23101, GLST 23102

GLST 29800. BA Thesis Seminar I. 100 Units.

This weekly seminar, taught by graduate student preceptors in consultation with faculty readers, is designed to aid students in their thesis research. Students are exposed to different conceptual frameworks and research strategies. Students must have approved topic proposals and faculty readers to participate in the seminar.

Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): GLST 23101 and GLST 23102
Note(s): Required of students with fourth-year standing who are majoring in Global Studies, but enrollment not permitted in quarter of graduation.

GLST 29801. BA Thesis Seminar II. 100 Units.

This weekly seminar, taught by graduate student preceptors in consultation with faculty readers, offers students continued BA research and writing support. Students present drafts of their work and critique the work of their peers.

Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): GLST 29800
Note(s): Required of students with fourth-year standing who are majoring in Global Studies, but enrollment not permitted in quarter of graduation.



Program Director
James L. Hevia
G-B 116

Senior Lecturer

Senior Lecturer
Larisa Jasarevic (on leave Autumn 2017)
G-B 123

Administrative Contact

Program Administrator
Joshua Oxley
G-B 119