Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Professional Studies and Fine Arts

PSFA’s International Studies Minor is Match With Literally Any Degree

Adjusted for COVID, the International Studies Minor (ISM) is open to any major in the university, and is particularly valuable for any student seeking a career involving global awareness

PSFA’s International Studies Minor is Match With Literally Any Degree

Maile Orian, Mei Zhong and students on study abroad trip

by Gabriela Romero

October 5, 2021

The College of PSFA offers its International Studies Minor as a perfect pairing with any degree, delivering an unparalleled educational experience. Lead by a powerhouse team, faculty and head of PSFA ISM, Mei Zhong (Ph.D) and ISM advisor, Giancarlo Taylor (M.A.), the program deepens students’ critical awareness, self reflection, and specific professional skills.

The minor nurtures the interest of domestic students’ and “provides a venue of studies for students who want to do a research project,” Taylor says.

ISM Students enroll in two courses abroad where they select a topic and do cross-cultural study and design data collection methods. Upon their return, students take their capstone research and collect and analyze data from the U.S., to compare to their findings abroad. They then create a well-rounded final report with this data and present it, making this minor applicable and valuable to all major types.

The ISM is comprised of six courses (18 units), four of which (12 units) are core courses. The program is designed for domestic students who have interest abroad, however, one of its courses, PSFA 280, is designed for international students’ interest in the U.S and increase retention rate.

Maile Orian, a graduate with an International Studies Minor, has found her degree very useful. “When I was applying for graduate programs and jobs, I cannot stress how many times they all said the same thing: ‘Wow. An international Studies Minor. That’s very impressive. We don’t see too many of these.’ Needless to say, I received multiple job offers and graduate program acceptances,” she said.

Since its establishment in 2009, the minor has illuminated students’ global research pathways, mainly through study abroad opportunities. However, COVID-19 led Zhong and Taylor to get creative to meet students’ needs on the same global scale.

“With COVID-19’s magnitude and the massive evacuations to return students home, a re-thinking of the abroad experience became necessary. The ISM curriculum was adjusted to allow students to conduct research in alternative ways such as partnering with universities in the U.K. and Chile, participating in the Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) program, collaborating with international students at SDSU, or reaching communities in Little Italy. Shutting down travel also allowed DACA, or students with financial hardships to enroll in this minor without having to physically leave the country,” Zhong says.

Taylor says, “students go with a purpose and are mindful. They gain a lot more out of study abroad compared to other students who leave and come back without another project to reflect on the experience.”

Orian says, “the ISM immediately sets me apart from other applicants. The reason is because the work world is changing fast and cultivating diversity has become a prominent theme within organizations. More and more businesses (especially progessive and forward thinking ones) understand the importance of diversity and cross-cultural communication in everyday life.

“Companies value diversity and they want to see things, like the ISM, on your resume. The ISM adds value to you as an applicant/employee and makes you more competitive for the job market,” Orian continues.

Learn more about the International Studies Minor program by visiting the website, or contacting Mei Zhong or Giancarlo Taylor.

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

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