With coursework ramping up and the semester approaching the four-week mark, DePauw’s new Global Studies Fellows Program recently hosted an information panel while simultaneously celebrating its successful launch. At the talk, Professor David Alvarez, and new resident Fulbright scholar Dr. Manal Shalaby spoke, offering their thoughts and insights into the details and inspiration behind the program.
Alvarez was quick to emphasize that the program was in part motivated by “the desire to highlight the great work that staff and faculty and students are doing in global learning.” The university website states that study-abroad opportunities in over 45 countries are available to students, and DePauw’s domestic course list has a history of emphasizing interdisciplinary elements and multicultural perspectives.
Still, the Global Studies program is more than just a restructuring of what DePauw already offers. Alvarez commented on this in a private interview, praising the university for having the ingredients of a global learning experience, but observing that no final product or cohesiveness was present. Options were available to students, but very few of them knew about available resources or were in a position to combine opportunities into a larger part of their education. By “building on what we’ve got,” Alvarez sees the program as an opportunity to shed light on professors’ work and make it more accessible. Alvarez also cites two other motivations for the program: a desire to create a bridge between international and domestic students at DePauw and to provide more access to student-faculty research opportunities.
Accessibility was mentioned consistently throughout the Wednesday panel. The talk began with Alvarez emphasizing that the program is available to all students, regardless of major or background. The coursework itself is fluid, offering a non-linear progression that ends with a single capstone course. Class requirements include courses focused on specific regions, a language requirement, and new core classes tailored to the program, including an “Introduction to Global Studies” course that focuses on the issues humanity faces now in the 21st century. Considering these different focuses, Alvarez sees the capstone as somewhat introspective, offering “an opportunity for global scholars to reflect on their experiences in the program.” He also describes the curriculum as having “a bit of focus, but also quite a bit of freedom to explore.”
Program benefits also aim to increase accessibility, including guided support for passport applications and international travel alongside student leadership opportunities. Leadership roles include giving students the opportunity to become a peer advisor, where those in the program can share their experiences with others, thus helping students to familiarize themselves with the program even more easily. Other options potentially include language instruction assistants, the chance to work on an online magazine, and the chance to become a student ambassador to support the program’s steering committee. These ambassadors will have input on the speakers and exhibitions the program brings to campus, helping to mold the image and trajectory of the global studies experience. With two speakers planned for this year, the ambassadors’ opinions will have an observable effect in the near future.
Moreover, Dr. Shalaby, DePauw's Fulbright scholar-in-residence, emphasized that “the program is about knowing people.” Currently, Shalaby teaches a world literature course while aiming to encourage underrepresented areas to connect with DePauw, both through the coursework and other opportunities within the Global Studies program. Her portion of the talk also discussed concepts of understanding, knowledge, and the unconscious cultural and information exchange that happens constantly between people. Shalaby articulated that “every time we exert an effort to know someone else, we know ourselves a little more.” In line with the program’s coursework on global contemporary issues, she also argued that “global awareness is not a luxury,” and reiterated the program’s trajectory to educate students and bridge gaps.
Still, for all of its multicultural and global options, DePauw remains geographically isolated in the rural Midwest. With study abroad options not accessible to all students, there is some challenge in exposing DePauw undergraduates to the program requirement of a global learning experience. Alvarez offered more perspective in an interview, and was excited to explain what he called “the opportunity to learn about the global in our backyard.” He discussed exploring options for an Indianapolis internship and giving the chance for students to perform research projects oriented around Putnam County. Furthermore, Alvarez challenged the concept that study abroad opportunities are inaccessible to some students, outlining the program’s comprehensive support in guiding more progressed Global Studies Fellows towards DePauw grants, which can offer up to $4,000. He acknowledges that the program is “just getting started,” and anticipates some minor setbacks, but again emphasized the preexisting global options within the DePauw education.
Overall, Alvarez and Shalaby appeared eager and motivated in these first few weeks of the program’s official launch, and confident in the opportunities offered for participating students. In the coming weeks, the students in the program will have the chance to share in that enthusiasm, catalyzing the connectedness so emphasized by the program’s leaders.