INTL 607 Graduate Core Seminar                    Fall 2011

Professor Anita M. Weiss

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International Studies at the University of Oregon
The unique character and focus of the Department of International Studies at the University of Oregon is distinctly captured in the phrase ‘Culture and Development’. We integrate theory and praxis, drawing pragmatically from many disciplines to find the best mix of approaches to address rapidly changing and complex global issues. At its intellectual core, our department links people-centered development to questions of culture, belonging and meaning. We conceive culture in a broad sense that encompasses social, political, economic, and religious institutions, processes and relations.

Through interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching, our faculty interrogate the continuities, disjunctures, articulations, and contradictions of ongoing, transformative social processes around the world and in specific geographical and cultural contexts. Our work emphasizes power, inequality and identity in scholarship from many disciplines and using many tools, sharing a common focus on the impact of global social change on human communities and individuals. We are committed to understanding social change and promoting cross-cultural understanding, social justice, environmental justice, sustainable development, gender equity, indigenous rights, and access to education. We also analyze the social relations of ‘doing development,’ critically examining how development work gets done and who does what with what kinds of priorities and goals. We link theory and praxis to reveal how social location shapes the lived experiences of marginality and privilege in diverse but patterned ways in different contexts, be it among orphans in Asia, Pakhtuns in Pakistan, marginalized women or ethnicities in Africa, or indigenous peoples responding to environmental challenges in Latin America.

Focus of the Seminar
In practical terms, this seminar will introduce you to International Studies at the University of Oregon as well as international studies as an emerging discipline, including its thematic foci, intellectual and ethical commitments, areas of expertise, and programmatic nuts and bolts. We explore four closely connected themes within International Studies:
1. Development We seek to understand the historically rooted yet rapidly changing dynamics of global socioeconomic interdependence and the resulting struggle for each society and community to define for itself and achieve its own development, be it in the economic, political, socio-cultural or environmental sense.
2. Culture We examine the ways that embedded yet changing systems of values, beliefs and identity are foundational to social institutions and represent essential starting points for making sense of how ordinary people respond to compelling contemporary challenges (e.g., global warming, economic restructuring, enhancing human rights) as well as everyday issues (e.g., making a living, raising family, maintaining community).
3. Transformative Communication We try to engender in ourselves, our students and our communities the skills to communicate effectively cross-culturally, across divides of race, ethnicity, religion, language, culture, and class.
4. Collaborative Immersion We are committed to extending our research, applied work, and study of language and culture in settings outside our familiar homes, and seek to build professional partnerships and durable relations with international colleagues, with the larger goal to replace the taking of knowledge with a process of co-production of understanding which embeds ourselves, our department, and the University of Oregon more fully in a global web of networks of ongoing contact and exchange, understanding and enrichment.

With an eye toward getting you to think about your MA project, we will focus a significant part of our time this term introducing research concepts, questions, designs, and prospectuses, as well as exploring epistemologies and the operationalization of a research design as well as some methods and more informal research strategies one might use in research. The goal is that you will come away from this seminar with a clear sense of what International Studies is, both in general and at the University of Oregon, what your graduate program expects of you in terms of practical requirements, and how to begin to think about designing and carrying out the most significant of the program’s requirements, the MA project.


for questions regarding this site please e-mail Professor Anita Weiss