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Notre Dame approves international security studies minor

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, the Notre Dame Arts and Letters College Council approved a new international security studies multidisciplinary minor degree for all undergraduate students.

The minor will be co-directed by Dan Lindley, associate professor of international relations in the department of political science and director of the Undergraduate Certificate Fellows program. 

Although details are currently in discussion, the minor is set to require students to take U.S. National Security Policymaking, a military history class and three electives relating to international security, which can be met through any University department. Additionally, the minor will not require a senior thesis, unlike the Notre Dame International Security Center (NDISC) Certificate. 

“Any course that has a preponderance of its subject matter focused on war would count towards the minor,” Lindley said. “So there’s a wide range of opportunities for people to satisfy the three other electives.”

As a multidisciplinary minor, this minor is for undergraduate students in any field who have an interest in international security.

“We’re intending the minor to be multidisciplinary so that people from other fields can do it and thrive in the minor because the minor doesn’t require a senior thesis,” Lindley said. 

Given the current conflicts on the global stage, interest in international security has increased, said Rosemary Kelanic, assistant professor of political science.

“There’s always some level of interest out there, but I think it can increase or decrease based on current events,” she said. “This is a topic about real events in the world that are hugely consequential to people’s lives, and I think that students find that very attractive.”

However, Lindley recommended political science students steer away from the minor.

“If you do the minor, and you intend that many of your classes to fulfill the minor are also poli-sci, then you’re facing up to 14 classes in poli-sci, and that’s maybe a lot for some people unless you are really devoted to it,” he said.

Instead, Lindley recommends political science students interested in international security apply for the NDISC certificate since the certificate program is “richer in detail and kind of more fun to talk about,” but it does not show up on a student’s transcript. In addition, a minor degree has more substance than a certificate, Kelanic said.

“It gives it more visibility within the University and employers or graduate schools or wherever students go afterward,” she said.

Individuals involved in the minor will have to attend a seminar series on Tuesdays every two to three weeks, as do other NDISC certificate students. They will also be available to attend study abroad trips and research opportunities, though space is limited. 

Last spring, Lindley worked with associate dean for undergraduate studies Mary Flannery to cover all points to propose the minor. After several conversations, a final draft was presented to the College Council that was approved after vigorous discussion.

“It was good discussions [that] gave us an opportunity to present our views and our beliefs and how it fits into the general framework here at Notre Dame,” Lindley said. “I think we’re going to be a great complement.”

One of the curiosities regarding the minor was the lack of gender diversity in the coursework, generally attributed to the male-dominated environment of international securities. 

“I really do think women have been marginalized in it for a long period of time,” Kelanic said. “There’s a lot of sexism and gender issues and discrimination in the world in general, like across all aspects of society, not just international security. And so it’s really a society-wide problem, not just an international security problem. It’s perhaps maybe a little worse in international security than in other topics, but I’m hoping that that’ll change over time.” 

However, the tides seem to be shifting, Lindley said.

“Nowadays, the entire class is sometimes majority female. So things are changing,” he said.

Lindley and Kelanic addressed their argument by providing Avril Haines, director of national intelligence, who gave a conference on Sept. 14 accompanied by Amy McAuliffe ‘90, assistant director of the CIA’s Weapons and Counterproliferation Mission Center, as examples. 

There is an ongoing discussion about whether the minor will be first available in the spring or fall semester. 

Contact Sam Godinez at sgodinez@nd.edu.

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