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By Meghan Dusek
UW-RF University Communications

NOV. 18, 2005-- The growth of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls International Studies Program from minor to major has been not been an easy road. But through the dedication and work of those who embraced creating new possibilities, UW-RF students are now able to gain a B.S. or B.A. in international studies.

“This is the beginning of a much broader perspective for the university,” Chancellor Betz announced at a November celebration for the new major. “A global perspective is an indispensable learning key to the future.”

From the beginning of the process, students have supported the creation of the major through petitions and the Student Senate. In its first semester, 37 students have enrolled as international studies majors—almost double the anticipated number. And with around 75 minors, the number of majors is expected to grow.

“I think that it's amazing that we've had students planning to be international studies majors for several years,” said program chair Wes Chapin, who has been honored for his enthusiasm in expanding the program.

One student is set to be the first graduate from UW-RF with an international studies major in December. “I know that it's very unusual to have a graduate so quickly, but it's a testament both to her commitment to international studies, in particular, and to the fact that so many students have been hoping to be majors for so long,” says Chapin.

The program, which began as a minor with six students in 1998, has grown to more than 100 majors, and in past years 20 International Studies minors have graduated every year. The major has been in development during the tenures of three chancellors.

Key to its success are the timing—according to Provost Ginny Coombs, the “right audience” provided the “window of opportunity.” Also, as an interdisciplinary program, it incorporates many readily available resources such as the study options overseas and existing classes, eliminating extra cost to the University.

Acquiring a global presence is no small feat for a university the size of UW-River Falls. Yet with the growing range of study abroad programs and creation of the international studies major, UW-RF is well positioned to become, says Chancellor Betz, “the epicenter for all things global in the UW System.”


Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:06:49 Central Daylight Time

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