International Studies Program comes to Skyline

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This fall the new International Studies Program will be offered for the first time here at Skyline.

“No other colleges in San Mateo County offer this program,” said Maria Norris, vice president of instruction and administrative analyst at Skyline.

What was originally a suggestion from community members to create a Philippine Studies Major has grown into the new International Studies Program, which is UC transferable, according to Professor Donna Bestock, social science-creative arts dean, and one of the main creators of the program.

“This is something we did ourselves,” said Bestock. “We have the classes, but we haven’t had anything that holds it together as a major until now.”

To begin there are a number of core classes that students must take. From there one may focus on a specific regional area.

“This is a fairly unique way of approaching it,” said Bestock. “It is a comprehensive study of culture. As oppose to a concentration on a particular area of history.”

The program is inter-disciplinary, which unlike many other International Study Majors, covers a wide range of areas within each chosen region; such as history, geography, political science, literature, and language, according to James Wong, professor of history and geography, who along side Bestock proposed the International Studies Program to Skyline.

“International Studies is a burgeoning major in a lot of campuses across the country,” said Wong. “Believe it or not, some places that offer an International Studies emphasis don’t require a language study. You sort of miss something there in terms of the language; you miss the nuances relying on second-hand information and translations.”

The program took a little over two years to create and complete. It had to be approved by the local curriculum committee, board of trustees and state chancellor’s office, according to Victoria Morrow, president of Skyline.

It was initially submitted in the fall of 2003, and was returned shortly after by the state chancellor’s office due to some needed “fine tuning” said Wong. It was then resent in October of 2005 and approved in February of this year.

The courses are offered on a rotating basis; they are not available every semester, but are required to be available at least once every two years. The program is designed to allow students to get their AA degree in two years, since availability of classes are limited there isn’t much room for dropping and retaking classes if one’s intentions are to transfer out in two years.

Skyline currently has study abroad programs and hopes to one day expand the abroad program and intertwine it with the International Studies program. Students will eventually be able to not only learn about the culture but live in it as well, said Bestock.

As we continue into the 21st century and the growth of globalization, international affairs, trade and finance continues a degree in International Studies is essential today more so than ever before.

“A degree in International Studies will meet the demands of an ever-changing global community,” said Wong. “The program enhances students’ knowledge about other societies and cultures and prepares them for participation in this diverse world. As Americans we should be reciprocal and study other parts of the world and other cultures.”