Global Studies for a World of Opportunity

Global Studies for a World of Opportunity

With a brand-new School of Global Studies and Languages set to launch at the UO this fall, there’s never been a better time to explore learning across borders and cultures.

Ecological sustainability. Transnational migration. Food security. Public health. Conflict resolution. Indigenous cultural survival.

Many of the greatest challenges confronting today’s world recognize no borders. The solutions will require cross-cultural communication and frameworks of mutual respect and understanding.

With this in mind, the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oregon is taking a bold and exciting step toward a more globally integrated future. Beginning this fall, several of the college’s existing departments and programs will join together to launch a new School of Global Studies and Languages.

“Our faculty has worked very hard to envision a school where our existing strengths are the foundation for an innovative curriculum. At every step of their program, students will be coached in career-readiness outcomes that help them prepare to work, live, and think globally.”
Bruce Blonigen, Tykeson Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Boasting a student-centered approach that connects social sciences, humanities, and language learning, the School of Global Studies and Languages will combine the expertise of around 100 UO faculty members, plus other staff and resources, into a new collaborative framework.

The curriculum will emphasize structured pathways to prepare students for various global careers, immersive approaches to learning languages, and opportunities to learn outside the classroom. Many interdisciplinary courses in the school will be team-taught by faculty from both humanities and social sciences disciplines.

The Duck with students
Students studying in a Global Scholar's Hall room
Student in Europe
Lucas Hamilton

“Our goal is to advance the best opportunities for students to learn from both faculty members and fellow students who share a common passion for languages, cultures, and global challenges,” says Ian F. McNeely, a professor of history and head of the Department of German and Scandinavian who has also been tapped to serve as executive director of the new school.

“Community engagement and hands-on learning will be major components and will be integrated across the curriculum in both majors and minors. Students will have the opportunity to conduct globally focused research while completing a thesis project, and capstone courses will center on global community engagement.”

Beyond campus, students will be able to apply their knowledge and skills through community-based projects in Oregon, hands-on learning opportunities across the US, and abundant study-abroad options. Mentorships, professional internships, and classroom-to-career pathways also will be a big point of emphasis.

“Our focus on outcomes is the thread that connects the various courses and experiences and gives the school its unique, coherent identity,” McNeely says. “Our intention is that GSL students will be fully prepared to step into the workforce as skilled and thoughtful leaders, well positioned to bring cultural understanding to work of global impact.”

Not just a new space but the results of a new vision, the School of Global Studies and Languages is set to take its place as the hub for global perspectives, careers, and languages at the UO!

Find Your World Here

Tony Lovincey, Class of 2022
“The political and cultural interconnect leading to peaceful relations between countries not only entails viewing various issues at surface level, but also through a global lens. Throughout my Global Studies experience, the incredible faculty has offered the best opportunity to piece together solutions to many of the world's problems on a global scale.”
Tony Lovincey, Class of 2022, Hometown: Eugene, Oregon
Ella Gilbertson, Class of 2022
“My professors and GEs all have been incredibly helpful and accommodating, especially for this past year with COVID. And my study abroad definitely would not have gone nearly as smoothly without their help. The classes I’ve taken have been very interactive and engaging, and even when it was challenging, it was never so out of reach so as to discourage me from continuing.”
Ella Gilbertson, Class of 2022, Hometown: Tualatin, Oregon

A School for the Students. And Our Communities.

A Chinese language and cultural anthropology major, Ella Gilbertson says she’s excited about all the possibilities—but also a bit sad that UO’s new School of Global Studies and languages is only coming on board during her senior year.

Gilbertson, who grew up in Tualatin, Oregon, studied abroad in Shanghai in 2019. She’s since achieved ACTFL professional proficiency in Mandarin Chinese and a Global Professional certification from the National Security Education Program. This year, she’ll be further enhancing her language and cultural knowledge—and working directly with a faculty advisor—in preparing an Honors Thesis.

“I hope to use the language in my career, whether that be as an interpreter, translator, or with coworkers,” she says. “I would ideally like to be able to work with anthropological or archeological research abroad, or with an NGO in Mandarin Chinese-speaking areas. I think being able to mutually communicate effectively in whatever languages are present for people working together is incredibly helpful.”

A third-year student from Albany, Oregon, Jessy Birruete describes her perspective as “real Chicana, hija de inmigrante, first-gen student.”

A linguistics and Spanish major, she got involved with the Romance languages department’s Spanish Heritage Language Program during her first year on campus. Beginning this fall, she’ll serve as one of the program’s líders bilingües (Bilingual Leaders). Birruete says she’s already looking forward to growing representation within the new school.

“The new GSL school will provide students with exciting ways to connect their academia with their community. That is not only an impactful opportunity, but will also be a privilege for many. It will be groundbreaking to see students represent and facilitate engagement with the comunidad latine in an institution where these students of color have not always found a welcoming home in the past.”

Porter Wheeler, a second-year global studies major from Portland, also feels encouraged by the promise of joining Global Studies and Languages under one roof to build a more inclusive learning environment.

“The more people brought into the fold to study in an international sense will only push out concepts of community that are too narrow or more limited,” he says. “In that way and others, I think the creation of this new school represents a great step.”

Another senior-to-be, Tony Lovincey’s path to college began with service in the US Air Force. During his time living and working abroad, he says he gained deeper perspectives on issues of relationship-building between nations. Now pursuing dual degrees in political science and global studies, he believes the most exciting thing may be the opportunity to return to community on campus soon.

“Following the COVID-19 pandemic, I missed the atmosphere and cameraderie in-person classes provided,” he says. “I’m interested in seeing the new improvements and growth the new school year shall bring. But what interests me the most is the opportunity to learn something new I’ll be able to utilize as a valuable tool down the road.”

Ian McNeely
“We must all work together to ensure the health of the planet, its people, and its political, economic, social, and technological systems. Building a career, building a life, will depend on that insight even more in future decades. That’s why the new school will be so significant for current and future students looking to step into a global career.”
Ian F. McNeely, Executive Director of the School of Global Studies and Languages

Classrooms to Careers: Your Choice of 12 Tracks

Q: What kind of job can you get with a Global Studies degree?

A: We have 12 Professional Concentration Areas to help guide your educational journey along a path that leads to a rewarding career.

Recent graduates from UO’s global studies and languages programs have gone on to work in journalism, marketing, finance, law, nonprofit management, environmental justice, human rights, and many other exciting fields.

Employers recognize that global studies and language degrees show a committed depth of cultural experience, in addition to demonstrating mastery of useful skills. There’s literally a world of possibilities!

Jessy Birruete, Class of 2023
“The most inspiring thing this program has to offer is access to career pathways and professional development that can be constructed while engaging con la comunidad latine. Knowing that I am able to participate in a program that centers itself around students, and values what they have to bring to the table inspires me as a mujer and as a mexicana to take up space in this institution.”
Jessy Birruete, Class of 2023, Hometown: Albany, Oregon
Students wearing culturally diverse formal wear
Students wearing culturally diverse formal wear
Students celebrating their heritage

A World of Languages

Language learning is a big deal at Oregon—we’re ranked No. 4 in Chinese, No. 4 in Japanese, and No. 6 in Spanish in the number of degrees awarded. When you add up all of our high-ranking language programs, UO is the No. 15 university nationwide for degrees awarded in all foreign languages.

For the upcoming year, 18 languages will be taught in person and onsite.

For those who are motivated to learn a less-commonly taught language, the Yamada Language Center offers the Self Study Language Program (SSLP).

In the Department of Romance Languages, the Spanish Heritage Language Program(SHL) is designed specifically for students who have a personal, familial, or community connection to Spanish.

Led by the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, the Chinese Flagship Program invites students to develop professional-level proficiency in Chinese while studying any academic major of their choice.

Students in a Chinese shrine
Group of people in China
Students playing frisbee on a lawn

For Annual Degrees Awarded, the UO Ranks . . .

In Spanish
In East Asian Languages
In Chinese
In Japanese
In Romance Languages
In All Foreign Languages

*Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2019

Learn Global Perspectives for a Better Future

The School of Global Studies and Languages provides a career-focused, interdisciplinary curriculum drawing on the social sciences and humanities.

“Even amidst the global spread of English and American culture, many of the opportunities of the 21st-century world can only be accessed through skills and knowledge of diverse languages, societies, and cultures,” says Associate Professor Lesley Jo Weaver, the director of undergraduate studies for the Department of Global Studies and also director of the popular global health minor.

“We aim to empower students by providing perspectives on cultural developments that are global and historical in scope, bridging theoretical knowledge and its real-world application.”

By studying the histories, literatures, perspectives, and value systems of major world regions, GSL students gain a deep, multifaceted insight into the complex relationships—political, economic, social, and cultural—that shape us all. They learn skills to make sense of a fast-changing global arena, and tools they can apply to transmit their research into practical outcomes.

Porter Wheeler, Class of 2024
“While awareness of the world around us can turn peoples and cultures once foreign into friends, it more importantly allows us to see the global issues that cause great human suffering. Focusing my studies globally is not to learn how to have all the answers, but to be equipped with the ability to interact with communities and people internationally, to help create a better world that is possible for all humankind.”
Porter Wheeler, Class of 2024, Hometown: Portland, Oregon
College-to-Career Pathways to choose from
Fulbright US Student Program Grantees in past decade
UO graduates served with the Peace Corps since 1961
Friendly Hall

Historic Friendly Hall will be home to the new School of Global Studies and Languages, with major renovations planned for the near future to enhance classroom and collaborative spaces.

Yamada Language Center signs

The Yamada Language Center provides language-learning technology, specialized classrooms, and academic support to students and teachers in the School of Global Studies and Languages.

Dorm room in the Global Scholar's Hall

The Global Engagement Academic Residential Community (ARC) in Global Scholars Hall is a living and learning environment for students who want to include languages and international perspectives as part of their University Housing experience.

Two students having a discussion while studying

The Global Connections Flight Path in Tykeson Hall provides specialized academic advising and career-readiness coaching for students who are interested in exploring educational pathways with international perspectives.

Where in the world will your college education take you?

Our 2021 Study Abroad Programs will include . . .

  • Seoul: Korea University Summer School
  • Bangkok: Chulalongkorn University Exchange
  • Accra: Global Health, Development, and Service-Learning
  • Prague: Communications, New Media, and Journalism
  • Siena: Food Justice and Sustainability
  • Geneva: Banking, Finance, and Social Responsibility
  • Segovia: Spanish Language and Culture
  • Dublin: Cinema Studies
  • Reykjavik: Renewable Energy, Technology, and Resource Economics

Even though COVID-19 has made things a little more complicated than usual, more than 30 study abroad programs in 15 countries are already approved for fall of 2021. To help support UO students’ study abroad opportunities, Global Education Oregon offers a wide range of scholarships based on financial need, academic merit, student background, and other criteria.

Study Abroad Opportunities

in the nation for Gilman Scholarships to study abroad
Study abroad programs, pre-pandemic
Study abroad programs currently approved for fall 2021