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Updated 10:00 AM October 19, 2009

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U-M launches International Studies concentration

Dozens of students already have expressed interest or signed up for the university's new International Studies concentration to help prepare them for living and working in a global economy.

Ken Kollman, director of the Center for International Studies, describes the interdisciplinary concentration as "rigorous, relevant and innovative in a Michigan way," leading to careers involving corporations, government, policy-related positions and nongovernmental organizations.

Mark Tessler, vice provost for International Affairs and director of the International Institute, says the concentration is part of a larger campuswide emphasis on international activities, including education abroad programs. He notes that President Mary Sue Coleman, Provost Teresa Sullivan and other U-M officials have traveled to destinations like Africa and China to improve the university's international partnerships.

"We're looking outside boxes and beyond borders," says Douglas Northrop, director of the Center for Russian and East European Studies and an associate professor of Near Eastern studies and history.

The new concentration requires three years of proficiency in a language other than English and draws on methods developed in the disciplines of economics, sociology, psychology, comparative literature, political science and history. Students choose one of four tracks:

• International Security, Norms and Cooperation

• Political Economy and Development

• Comparative Culture and Identity

• Global Environment and Health

Susan Waltz, professor of public policy, says she is enthusiastic about the new effort, noting her own doctorate is in international studies and that she deliberately pursued an interdisciplinary path because so many of today's challenges cross disciplines and boundaries.

Daniel Herwitz, director of the Institute for the Humanities, says studying abroad "has to be linked to a certain intellectual preparation ... listening just doesn't come out of nothing."

For more information on the new concentration, go to

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