New major to focus on global culture

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The World Languages and Cultural Studies department has unveiled a new major to foster global awareness.

The new major was created out of a need for more language and culture studies after the removal of the french major from Suffolk.

After several years of developing the major and six drafts of the proposed curriculum, the director of the program, Professor Barbara Abrams, believed the right team had been crafted with the help of Dean Toyota and Dean Celovsky. Partnerships with departments such as history, English, communication and journalism, and government created the new major.

For students, the major is an opportunity to foster global awareness, both studying here at Suffolk and abroad. The typical teaching strategy has always been to teach language first and culture second, but students should expect a new strategy; studying a culture to better understand the language.

“It has all the possibilities to put forth a global citizen who functions in a global environment, who can communicate and function in the world,” said Abrams.

Beyond students, the implementation of the global cultural studies major is a force of change for Suffolk as an institution, whose reputation of a commuter school has been steadily transforming into one of an international school.

 “Global Experience” is one of the pillars in place for Suffolk’s 2025 strategic plan. Through this initiative, the university looks to foster a global environment and “offer an education that prepares students to be global thinkers who can succeed in a rapidly evolving employment landscape and in an increasingly global community,” according to the plan. 

“If you’re asking for global in your strategic plan, who better to do that than the people who actually function and speak and work in different languages and work in different parts of the world and come from different parts of the world,” said Abrams.

For Jonah Andersen, a transfer student from Switzerland, the major helps him reach his goal of going into the field of game design, specifically for world building and character design.

“A lot of games are based off our experiences in the real world, they are based off cultures from different places on earth. So being able to draw on numerous different cultures, obscure elements or social structures for example, allows you to create entirely new structures,” said Andersen.

Students can pick from three concentrations: interdisciplinary arts, regional practices and  culture, or conflict and communication. Many of the classes students can take to obtain the 41 credits needed to finish the major also count for general education requirements. Students also receive advising for the major and for their concentration, giving them two academic advisers in their major. 

Since the major is interdisciplinary, students can have classes in history, English, black studies and theater. 

“I found [the major] to be quite broad… it seemed to have a lot of different options and I could dabble in a little bit of the arts here and there without needing to be a specific fine arts major,” said Andersen.

Baili Yalikun, a freshman, is passionate about languages and hopes the new major will help her learn about different cultures and see how languages have formed and evolved. She hopes to tailor the major to fit her dream of being a French translator.

Yalikun switched from the French major, and was suggested to look into global cultural studies.

“Since it’s a brand new major, they want a student to present it… they want student representation to talk with students about what this major is and [get] more information out of it,” said Yalikum about her title.

Studying abroad while at Suffolk will hopefully see changes with the addition of the new major. 

The world languages department plans to look into enhancing study abroad opportunities to offer students a wider variety of places to study in correlation with the major.

“We’re doing research to find programs in North and South Africa and more programs in Asia. The world is not just the United States and Western Europe,” said Abrams. 

The major continues to expand, adding on a potential fourth concentration next semester through the Sawyer Business School. The ability to minor in global cultural studies is planned to roll out next year.