I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve visited Goucher College, but it’s always nice to return to this 300-acre residential campus that combines the proximity of the city with the bucolic life of the country. Goucher is located in Towson, Maryland, right next door to Baltimore. There is a shopping mall across the street from campus (with access via a sky bridge), but the campus itself is surrounded by woods that beckon hikers.
My visit this spring was to learn about the international relations (IR) program at the college. Goucher in general is known for its focus on study abroad. In fact, students can take classes in advance of their travels to another country, such as classes viewing the history of South Africa from Apartheid to democracy, as well as language-based courses. IR is an interdisciplinary program in which students take a set of required classes drawn from the literature of the field, studying theoretical approaches, international political economy, at least two classes about select regions of the world, and from such areas as anthropology, business management, history, peace studies and political science. The faculty encourages students to both intern and study abroad, and students have done so in such disparate places as Indonesia and Paris. Independent study projects are also encouraged.
Although a majority of American students feel most comfortable in English speaking and European programs, Goucher is promoting the idea of students’ engaging in places abroad that are outside their comfort zones. To this end, students are encouraged to engage in field experiences in both Baltimore and abroad so they can understand the similarities and differences across cultural spaces. One student I met will be going to Botswana to study sexual health in the community. Other students have studied at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, in London (where there are opportunities to intern with Members of Parliament), and in India and China.. There’s even a program for business students in Ghana.
Goucher also has an International Scholars Program (ISP), open by application to incoming freshmen of any major who want to broaden their perspectives through multidisciplinary seminars – “Perspective on the Global Condition” — and studying abroad for over a full semester or academic year. Consistent with such an outlook, the school recently added a public health minor, and there is even a Facebook group for IR students and faculty.
Copyright 2016. Betsy F. Woolf. All rights reserved.