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Keough School offers new global affairs major

| Monday, April 11, 2022

Undergraduates at Notre Dame can now declare global affairs as their primary major through the Keough School of Global Affairs. This is the school’s first primary major offering. 

“We’ve been really looking forward to this day since the school was created, and we are really excited that we can continue to contribute to students’ global educational experience, especially through language acquisition and cross-cultural experience,” said Iris Ma, the assistant dean for academic affairs at the Keough School. 

Since the school’s establishment in 2014, previous cohorts could minor in one of the nine institutes housed within the school. Beginning in 2019, undergraduates could declare a global affairs supplementary major.

While many students were pleased with the offerings of the Keough School, a fair number of students expressed a desire to declare global affairs as their primary major, said Kasey Swanke, the first-year advisor for the Keough School.

“For the past three years, I’ve heard students say ‘My primary major is here, really if the Keough School had its own major, I would just come to the Keough School. My primary major is kind of a holdover major,’” Swanke said. 

The school also recognized that the primary major would be beneficial in the era of globalization, Ma said. The major, she said, will also help facilitate University President Fr. John Jenkins’ initiative to internationalize the Notre Dame student experience. 

“There are many different reasons and considerations, so in the end, we decided to propose a new major, and the supplemental major will gradually phase away,” Ma said.

The class of 2025 is the first cohort able to declare global affairs as their primary major. Beginning in fall 2022, the Keough School will no longer offer global affairs as a supplementary major, but students currently enrolled in the supplementary major can still complete it.

Students who declare the global affairs primary major will take Introduction to Global Affairs and Integral Human Development, Introduction to Global Politics and Policy, a statistics or quantitative methods course, an economics course, six electives and a capstone seminar, in addition to all University requirements. Students must also have intermediate language proficiency and a cross-cultural experience which most students will complete by studying abroad, Ma said.  

One of the biggest differences between the primary and supplementary major is the primary major does not have a concentration requirement. Ma said this change allows students to look at specific global issues from many different perspectives rather than just that of their concentration. 

“It’s multidisciplinary because, when we talk about any global issues, you can’t just talk about one dimension, you have to actually come in from different perspectives,” Ma said.

The academic council approved the major in November, and a handful of students have already declared it since then, Ma said. A number of students have also expressed interest in declaring the major in the future, Swanke said. She said the size of the major is unknown at the moment because it will be dictated by incoming student interest. 

It is also unknown if the Keough School will offer other primary majors in the future, Ma said, but there is a lot of excitement in the school regarding its newest offering. 

“We want to focus on standing up this new major to really give our students that great learning experience and engagement with faculty, with staff and also with different institutes and centers,” Ma said.

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About Gabrielle Beechert

Gabrielle is currently a junior at Notre Dame majoring in neuroscience and behavior with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She currently serves as Assistant Managing Editor at The Observer.

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