Division of Social Studies

Global and International Studies


The Global and International Studies Program (GISP) begins from the premise that the growing interconnectedness of global affairs is such that it cannot be studied within the narrow boundaries of traditional disciplines. GISP offers a problem-based and interdisciplinary curriculum that draws on faculty strengths in anthropology, economics, history, political science, sociology, and area studies, and emphasizes the importance of culture and society to the study of international affairs. The goal is to create connections among these different disciplines in order to facilitate new and innovative perspectives on global phenomena.

Areas of Study

The Global and International Studies Program has three thematic fields: transnational processes, culture, and ideas; global economics, trade, and development; and international politics, states, and institutions. Students choose one of these fields as the primary focus of their major and take at least one course in the remaining two fields. In addition, students complete course work that focuses on the history, politics, and/or culture and society of a particular geographic area. 

Transnational Processes, Cultures, and Ideas 
Courses in this field take up issues and activities that operate across the borders of states. Covered themes include political and cultural globalization, transnational social movements, immigration, nongovernmental organizations, global media, human rights, the environment, and infectious diseases.

Global Economics, Trade, and Development
Courses in this field focus on the global economy. Covered themes include microeconomics, macroeconomics, international economics, political economy, economic development, trade, and international economic institutions.

International Politics, States, and Institutions
Courses in this field take up issues related to the theory and practice of interstate relations. Covered themes include international history, international relations theory, security studies, nations and nationalism, state sovereignty, and international institutions.

Area Studies
Area studies courses focus on the history, politics, and/or culture and society of a particular geographic area, or the comparative study of two geographic areas. It is recommended that the geographical focus of the area studies courses correspond to the language used to fulfill the language requirement.


Students majoring in Global and International Studies are required to complete a total of 11 GISP or GISP cross-listed courses and two semesters of the Senior Project; obtain competency in a foreign language; and study abroad or at the Bard Globalization and International Affairs (BGIA) program. Two of the courses, excluding the Junior Research Seminar and Senior Project, must be at the 300 level. A single course may not fulfill more than one requirement.

Prior to or concurrent with Moderation, a student must have taken at least four GISP courses, including two core courses; identified their primary thematic field; and made progress toward the language requirement. To moderate into GISP, each student is required to submit a one-page plan of study to the program directors and Moderation board that demonstrates a coherent vision of their academic interests within Global and International Studies, and how they plan to realize that vision in their remaining years at Bard. The plan should address how the study of different disciplines would benefit the student’s research interests.

The two-semester Senior Project must address a global and international problem or question and incorporate the interdisciplinary lessons and approaches students have learned in their GISP course work.


The Global and International Studies core courses, described below, introduce students to and serve as a model of the interdisciplinary study of global affairs. Each course adopts a problem-based approach to issues of contemporary global importance and draws from an interdisciplinary set of course readings and approaches to international affairs.

Global Inequality and Development
One of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century is understanding and advancing social, economic, and political development in marginalized places. Why does global inequality persist and why does a large share of the world’s population continue to live in abject poverty, despite tremendous efforts made over the last half-century? This course examines such questions from two perspectives: globalization and other structural forces that create and perpetuate global inequality; and the goals and practices promoted by governments, development agencies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and communities.

Gender and the Politics of National Security
An introduction to major theories and issues concerning gender and international security affairs. These theoretical frameworks are then applied to security issues such as the cultural effects of nuclear weapons, the targeting of civilians during armed conflict, sexual violence in war, torture and the war on terrorism, human security and development, and post-conflict societies, among others. Discussions draw from anthropology, sociology, philosophy, politics, and rhetoric in order to highlight the complex interconnections among states, societies, and individuals.

Diplomacy and Development
Students gain an understanding of the goals, constraints, and structures of diplomacy: diplomatic corps, embassies, consulates, aid missions, attaches, envoys, and the use of nontraditional diplomats. The course examines the evolution of these components and contexts to include public diplomacy, cyber diplomacy, diplomacy in combat zones, and the use of international development as a foreign policy tool. Videoconferences with students across the Bard international network explore the roles played by different actors in addressing immediate crises and longer-term diplomatic issues.

Junior Research Seminar
This course, normally taken in the junior year, prepares students to begin work on their Senior Project the following academic year. The course introduces students to the range of theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of international affairs, drawn from an interdisciplinary set of texts.