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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.

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 primary and a secondary one, and complete five courses in the former and three in the latter. The selection of the primary and secondary tracks 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
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 structured activity or program exploring global issues related to their intended BA project, often in an international setting.

This major activity might be:

  • An internship (academic year or summer)
  • Select study abroad programs, 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 a seventh quarter of language study in a single language. Credit for the seventh and final quarter of the language 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 primary or secondary 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 primary thematic track500
Three courses in a secondary thematic track300
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): Larisa Jasarevic     Terms Offered: Autumn

GLST 23102. Global Studies II. 100 Units.

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

Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): GLST 23101

GLST 23403. Borders, (Im)mobilities and Human Rights. 100 Units.

What is the human cost of border control? To what extent do individuals possess the right to move to other states? How do different states with large populations of refugees and asylum seekers develop and enforce migration policies, and what do the differences in these policies reveal about the social histories and futures of these states? To address these questions, we will consider how borders, institutions, and categories of migrant groups mutually shape one another. We will explore the interrelationships between categories of migration-forced, economic, regular, and irregular-in order to understand the multiple and unequal forms of mobility experienced by those who inhabit these categories. By utilizing a framework of human rights, this course will investigate how contemporary issues in migration-such as border management, illicit movement, and the fuzzy distinction between forced and economic migration-raise and reopen debates concerning the management of difference. We will draw on the work of anthropologists, sociologists, and geographers, as well as journalists, legal, and medical professionals. Our readings each week will include a mix of conceptual, ethnographic, long-form journalism, and policy texts. When possible, we will also invite representatives from different Chicago-based organizations that promote and protect the rights of people in various situations of migration to come to our class to discuss their work.

Equivalent Course(s): CHDV 23403, HMRT 23403, ANTH 25255

GLST 23406. Migration Trajectories: Ethnographies of Place and the Production of Diasporas. 100 Units.

lobal movements of people have resulted in a substantial number of immigrant communities whose navigation of various facets of everyday life has been complicated by restrictive citizenship regimes and immigration policies, as well as linguistic and cultural differences. The experiences of a wide range of individuals involved in migration raise the following questions: what strategies do immigrants use to negotiate transnational identities and what are the implications of these strategies? How do future generations manage simultaneous and intersectional forms of belonging? To address these questions, we will draw on ethnographic texts that explore various facets of transnational migration, such as diasporas, place, citizenship, mobility, and identities. The term "trajectories," reflects different situations of migration that are not necessarily linear or complete. Moreover, term "place" is meant to capture the continuity between displacement and emplacement, and to critically analyze the durability associated with notions of 'sending' and 'receiving' countries. Lastly, rather than take diasporas as a given, we will explore the ways that they are produced and enacted in a variety of geographic contexts.

Instructor(s): D. Ansari     Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): CHDV Distribution Areas: B, C
Equivalent Course(s): CRES 23406, CHDV 23406

GLST 24110. In the Beginning": Origin Stories in Science and Religion. 100 Units.

What is the origin of the universe? What is the origin of humanity? These questions have generated a plethora of answers, many of which fall within domains of what we now consider to be science and religion. However, as we will see through our readings, these two categories are hard to define; classifications often overlap, and science and religion intertwine throughout history and until today. What do we call "myth," and what do we term "theory"? In this class, we will focus on not only the cultural embeddedness of religious and scientific narratives, but also the cultural implications of these texts. The course begins with origin stories and asks students to consider their power in shaping our world and perspectives, focusing on the ethical dimensions and implications of these narratives. What kind of relationships do we imagine among human beings, and between human and nonhuman beings in this world, given particular origin stories as our starting point? Finally, in relation to this goal of interrogating the ethical import of origin narratives, this course will close by asking whether we can imagine other kinds of origin stories (such as in the genre of science fiction), and what implications these imaginal narratives hold.

Instructor(s): Sartell, Elizabeth     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): RLST 28110

GLST 24111. Medical Knowledge in the Islamicate World. 100 Units.

Drawing on Marshall Hodgson's term 'Islamicate' this course follows medical knowledge as a cultural and political object as it travels through various iterations across and between dynastic and modern colonial imperial formations. For students of Islamic studies, the course suggests how medical knowledge can be a point of departure for illuminating intellectual, social and political history. For students of globalization, it situates that phenomenon's association with the space-time compressions of capitalism within a longer genealogy of migrations and knowledge exchanges. The course asks students to engage with several fundamental questions: Why was the medical knowledge produced in Greek antiquity absorbed and transformed by the Islamicate world? How did this medical knowledge change in translation between languages and across regionally specific cultural assemblages? How might close attention to the historically situated practices of medical knowledge production disrupt an essentialist understanding of 'Islamic culture'? Ultimately, the central aim of this course is to urge students to think more deeply about the methods and sources for understanding the entangled histories of the Islamicate world.

Instructor(s): Datoo, Sabrina     Terms Offered: Spring

GLST 24112. Taste and Technoscience. 100 Units.

This course examines the politics of food in the age of mass production, taking the sensory dimension of food as its orienting lens. From artificial flavors to molecular gastronomy, the 20th Century has been marked by technological innovations in our food. These changes have not only transformed what we eat but also how our food is made and how we think about what it does to our bodies, shifting the meaning of ideas about what constitutes "taste," "flavor," and even "food" itself. We will discuss what role scientific expertise has played in shaping how taste is produced as an intimate bodily experience. On the one hand, we will read historical and ethnographic accounts of the work of technoscientific professionals responsible for the design, analysis and production of the tastes and flavors of foods. Rarely rising to the level of explicit marketing, the scientific design of tastes and flavors forms the invisible infrastructure behind the dependable, even pleasurable, routines of everyday life: from the satisfying crunch of morning cereal to the indulgent sweet midnight snack. We will read social scientific literature examining the sites and methods for making and measuring the taste, flavor, texture and smell of food. We will situate ethnographic and historical readings within broader cultural discussions about the role and form of mass commodity production in contemporary life, the social life of chemicals, and the history and anthropology of the senses.

Instructor(s): Butler, Ella     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): ANTH 22170

GLST 25310. Extinction, Disaster, Dystopia: Environment and Ecology in the Indian Subcontinent. 100 Units.

This course aims to provide students an overview of key environmental and ecological issues in the Indian subcontinent. How have the unique precolonial, colonial, regional and national histories of this region shaped the peculiar nature of environmental issues? We will consider three major concepts-"extinction", "disaster" and "dystopia" to see how they can be used to frame issues of environmental and ecological concern. Each concept will act as a framing device for issues such as conservation and preservation of wildlife, erasure of adivasi (first dwellers) ways of life, environmental justice, water scarcity and climate change. The course will aim to develop students' ability to assess the specificity of these concepts in different disciplines. For example: What methods and sources will an environmental historian use to write about wildlife? How does this differ from the approach an ecologist or literary writer might take? Students will analyze various media: both literary and visual, such as autobiographies of shikaris (hunters), graphic novels, photographs, documentary films, ethnographic accounts and environmental history.

Equivalent Course(s): CRES 25310, SALC 25310, ENGL 22434, HIST 26806

GLST 26804. Frontiers and Borders in South Asia. 100 Units.

Sometimes the frontline of empires and nation-states, sometimes neglected or inaccessible, peripheral spaces are often of core concern to the central state. The aim of this upper-level undergraduate seminar is to examine the history of borders, borderlands, and frontiers as political and social concepts and as produced spaces. We will examine an array of case studies in addition to more theoretical scholarship that spans the disciplines of history, environmental studies, political science, anthropology, and geography. While using South Asia (itself a rather recently invented "area") as the primary geographic and historical focus this course will not be bound exclusively to it. The first goal of the course is to explore the evolution of key concepts such as space, territory, frontier, and borders/borderlands. The second goal is to develop methods for analyzing subjects that are simultaneously physical spaces and political, social, and historical ideas. Finally, it seeks to introduce students to areas that often fall beyond the penumbra of historical surveys centered on the nation-state. No prior knowledge of South Asian history is assumed. Weekly readings will average 150 pages. Note: No prior knowledge of South Asian history is assumed.

Equivalent Course(s): SALC 26804, HIST 26804, GEOG 26400

GLST 27702. About Nature: From Science to Sense. 100 Units.

Consider mushrooms," Anna Tsing (2012) suggests to those who are curious about human nature and she points to the relational and biological diversity found at the unruly edges of the global empire-the governmentalized, politicized, commoditized culture nature of capitalism. This class follows the suit, tracking the scent of what evidently remains, thrives, withdraws, overwhelms, and inspires wonder in the guises of the natural, wild, organic, or awesome.

Instructor(s): L. Jasarevic     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): ANTH 25117, INST 27702

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.

Equivalent Course(s): ANTH 25118

GLST 29524. Approaches to World History. 100 Units.

What is world history? This seemingly simple question is a source of great debate, such as the heated responses to the College Board's recent decision to cut material prior to 1450 from AP World History. How we answer it says a great deal about how we view the world and history generally. This course introduces answers to this question by previous scholars and challenges students to assess how these answers relate to their own education and intellectual interests at the University of Chicago. We will touch on major approaches and trends in the growing field of world history, including civilizational studies, the "great divergence" or "rise of the West," world-systems theory, environmental history, "big history," and the study of specific people, places, and objects in the context of world history. Students will leave with a solid grounding in one of the most vibrant and contentious fields of history today and a better understanding of the diversity of ways to situate historical narratives and current events into a global perspective.

Instructor(s): D. Knorr     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): HIST 29524

GLST 29525. The Global Life of Things. 100 Units.

What is a commodity? And can we read capitalism's global history through the commodity form? This course will investigate how historians and anthropologists have studied commodities and commodification to account for the environmental, social, and cultural developments of capitalism over the last four centuries. We will begin by considering canonical theoretical approaches, including Marx, Polanyi, and Appadurai. Readings will then be based around case studies of, among other things, land, cotton, and slavery; sugar, guano, and mushrooms. Readings will span from the early modern Atlantic World through to the nineteenth-century Pacific, the twentieth-century Middle East, and the United States and Japan in the present day. The course should appeal to students pursuing studies of the early modern Atlantic world, economic history, or environmental history.

Instructor(s): O. Cussen     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): ENST 29525, HIST 29525

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. Note/Prerequisite: College Reading and Research Course form required, along with consent of instructor and program director.

Terms Offered: Autumn Spring Winter
Prerequisite(s): GLST 23101, GLST 23102; consent of instructor and program director
Note(s): Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form.

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.

GLST 29900. BA Thesis: Global Studies. 100 Units.

This is a reading and research course for independent study related to BA research and BA thesis preparation. Note/Prerequisite: College Reading and Research Course form required, along with consent of instructor and program director.

Prerequisite(s): Consent of instructor and program director
Note(s): Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form.



Program Director
James L. Hevia
G-B 116

Senior Lecturer

Senior Lecturer
Larisa Jasarevic
G-B 123

Administrative Contact

Program Administrator
Joshua Oxley
G-B 119