International Studies certificate passes Undergraduate Council

The Undergraduate Council has approved the Certificate in International Studies program which, if it earns university approval, would give students an opportunity to further their study-abroad experience, said the director of the Center for International Studies.

Jane Kucko, director of the Center for International Studies, said the department decided on a certificate instead of a minor because a certificate would have a more practical emphasis, whereas a minor has a more academic emphasis.

Tracy Williams, associate director for the Center for International Studies, said the certificate differs from a minor because it is co-curricular, which involves application of skills learned in class, and interdisciplinary, meaning required classes would come from different schools around campus.

“This certificate program recognizes a student’s intensive investigation of international issues from a multi-disciplinary perspective,” Williams said.

Williams said the certificate would start in the fall with the university’s approval and would be made up of three components – knowledge, skills and application, and interactive perspectives.

The knowledge component would be made up of 13 credit hours: a one-credit hour pre-departure intercultural-seminar course, a mandatory study-abroad program and nine hours of any cultural and global-awareness classes the university offers or a major/minor in foreign language, Williams said.

Sharon Fairchild, chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, said all languages in the department – French, German, Italian and Japanese – would qualify toward getting the certificate.

The skills and application portion would help students apply their academic learning and study-abroad experience into a research project or activities, such as Model UN or the international spring break program, Williams said.

The certificate program would require students to interact with the local community in a way that would demonstrate an international perspective or attitude. Students would be required to participate in the International Student Association, be a conversation partner to an international student or complete 40 hours of community service, Williams said.

The program would enable students to “formalize their real commitment to international studies and study abroad” by broadening their interest in international topics, Fairchild said.

International students would not be required to complete a study-abroad program because they are already studying in a country outside of their own, Kucko said.

Williams said students with certificates would stand out to future employers.

“It will benefit them by giving them an incentive to take advantage of these different types of activities and designation or marker to show future employers that they have an international competency,” she said. “All jobs need students to know about the world, interact with different people and to understand how issues and problems have a global focus.”

Before deciding on the Certificate in International Studies, Williams said the department researched international-certificate programs and minors at other universities, such as Southern Methodist University, North Carolina State University and Tulane University. She said TCU’s program is different from those universities because it would focus on practical and interactive approaches to what students have learned in their classes.