The Georgetown University School of Foreign Services’s International Politics program will no longer offer trans-state actors as an IPOL concentration, according to an e-mail that Dean Bryan Kasper of the SFS sent to IPOL majors.
The change, Kasper wrote, will not affect juniors or seniors pursuing a TSA concentration, but members of the classes of 2012 and 2013 will not be able to concentrate in TSA, and sophomores who elected to concentrate in TSA will need to choose a new concentration by the end of this semester.
The IPOL Field Committee (the SFS faculty members who manage the major) made the decision to eliminate it in the final weeks of the Fall semester. Here’s the logic behind the change, according to Kasper:
“The TSA concentration as a distinct object of scholarly analysis in International Politics has become anachronistic. All of the research questions of the concentration are now commonly, and more appropriately, studied under the other three concentration fields. In the twenty years since the end of the Cold War, trans-state/trans-national actors have become as common and as important as nation-states.
“Because of the shift in International Political scholarship and practice, the Committee found the TSA concentration to have lost its coherence, becoming a ‘catch all’ concentration for students. The IPOL major and its students and faculty are better served by more precision and coherence within the curriculum.”
The courses offered under the TSA concentration will still be available to juniors and seniors pursuing that concentration, and other IPOL students may take those courses as major electives until the classes are redistributed among the three other concentrations in IPOL: International Law, Norms, and Institutions; International Security; and Foreign Policy and Policy Processes. TSA had the smallest number of IPOL students of the four concentrations that the IPOL major offered.
Read the full e-mail, after the jump.
The full e-mail sent by Dean Bryan Kasper:
Dear potential IPOL Majors in the Class of 2012 and current IPOL Majors: (If you have already declared a major other than IPOL, you can delete this message.)
I am writing to announce a change in the International Politics (IPOL) major structure.
During the last few weeks of the Fall semester, the IPOL Field Committee (the SFS faculty members charged with managing the IPOL curriculum), Prof. George Shambaugh, the IPOL Field Chair, and I reviewed the major’s curriculum; we examined its academic goals, learning outcomes, structure, and course offerings. Over the past three years, the major has grown, both in total number of students as well as course offerings and faculty. In the wake of such growth, the committee took an opportunity to make sure that the IPOL major is as strong as possible and using its resources wisely. With little surprise, much of IPOL is working well. However, two important things came out of this review and have been approved by the SFS Curriculum Committee.
First, the Committee articulated more clearly the major’s learning goals and objectives. It drafted what the major’s overall learning goals are (and should) be. The Committee also derived specific learning objectives that outline specific elements and skills the major should impart to its students. Combining these with the major’s specific course requirements and concentration descriptions on the IPOL website, IPOL students and faculty can have a better sense of what it is “to do” IPOL. You can see all of this on the IPOL website.
Second, responding to shifts in the study and practice of international politics, the Committee concluded that the “Trans-state Actors in World Politics” concentration (TSA) should be phased out as a field of concentration and incorporated into other fields in IPOL and other majors in SFS. The TSA concentration as a distinct object of scholarly analysis in International Politics has become anachronistic. All of the research questions of the concentration are now commonly, and more appropriately, studied under the other three concentration fields. In the twenty years since the end of the Cold War, trans-state/trans-national actors have become as common and as important as nation-states. Because of the shift in International Political scholarship and practice, the Committee found the TSA concentration to have lost its coherence, becoming a “catch all” concentration for students. The IPOL major and its students and faculty are better served by more precision and coherence within the curriculum.
The immediate, practical effect of this change is that no new IPOL majors may choose to concentrate in “Trans-state Actors.” This applies to current sophomores (Class of 2012) who are declaring their majors but will not affect juniors (Class of 2011) or seniors (Class of 2010). Those sophomores who have already declared IPOL with TSA will be asked to select a different concentration in IPOL (or can change majors if they wish) by the end of the Spring 2010 semester.
This change will not affect IPOL TSA majors who are seniors (Class of 2010) or juniors (Class of 2011). These students will be allowed to finish the major and graduate with the TSA concentration. This is a small number of students since TSA was the smallest concentration within the major.
The IPOL TSA course list will still be maintained for this semester (Spring 2010) and next academic year (Fall 2010 and Spring 2011). TSA concentrators will be able to pick courses from this list for their major as in the past. Non-TSA majors will also be able to take TSA course for IPOL major electives during this time. After the 2010-2011 Academic Year, the TSA course list will be phased out and most of the courses on the list, with appropriate and relevant content for the major, will be redistributed to other IPOL course lists. IPOL will continue to have a diverse course offering and I anticipate little change in the total number of IPOL course offerings with this change.
The major will keep its other curricular structures with only some nominal changes. IPOL will remain an 11 course major comprised of the Quantitative Methods course, 6 concentrations courses, and 4 major electives. The three concentration fields students will choose from remain: Field 1: International Law, Norms and Institutions; Field 2: International Security; and Field 3: Foreign Policy and Policy Processes (note the slight change in the name of field 1). Each field will have a course list posted each semester where students may choose their concentration courses. Among the 4 non-concentration major electives, students will still be required to take 1 course each from the other IPOL fields.
The IPOL website has been updated to reflect these changes. As always, it is the best information resource on all IPOL curriculum related issues. I look forward to meeting the new IPOL majors as they declare in the coming weeks.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I have open door, walk-in advising on Friday, January 29th, from 2pm-4pm. I hope you have had a restful winter break and wish you the best of luck in Spring 2010 semester.
Bryan P. Kasper
Photo from Flickr user Patrick Q used under a Creative Commons license.