International Studies (IS) Major
The international studies major offered at UIC combines three main fields of study: international relations, international economics, and international law. The interdisciplinary nature of the curriculum allows its students to acquire a well-rounded understanding of the numerous issues occuring in the globalized world at both regional and international levels. Topics range from orientalism, realism, and constructivism to human rights violations, sustainable development, and trilateral cooperation between Northeast Asian countries. Through intensive research, presentations, and discussions, IS majors learn how to express their critical opinions in a cohesive manner not only through writing but also speech. They have opportunities to exercise strategic thinking skills by integrating information and developing solutions for socio-economic issues. Students also learn how to identify and interpret new social paradigms, use comparative analysis to draw connections, and apply traditional international relations theories to the real world.
International Studies Major Courses at UIC
UIC’s international studies major’s focus on East Asia makes it unique. A rich array of courses specifically focus on East Asia, thus allowing students to build a strong regional expertise. However, there are also numerous IS courses that touch upon relevant issues from an international perspective. Through rigorous course-work, students are driven to acquire an interdisciplinary and flexible mindset, a core value that serves as a strong basis for gaining future global competitiveness.
[Brief overview of Some IS Major Courses]
Terrorism and International Security (international relations)
This course covers topics such as conventional military security, nuclear weapons, securitization, terrorism, economic and political security, and feminist perspectives on security. It is a course recommended to students who enjoy engaging in discussions since almost 50% of the course is comprised of discussions and presentations. There are two research papers that must be submitted but students should keep in mind that participation is the most important.
Investment Analysis and Global Management (international economics)
Students can learn basic financial terms and make real-life applications. On the midterm and final, students will be asked to answer questions like, “If you want to buy a condominium in New York, what would you have to do in order to not pay over the inherent value as a prudent buyer?” Overall, students state that the course is useful but some have complained that they had difficulty preparing for exams since the course had no textbook or powerpoints. All the content is delivered through lectures.
International Law and Governance (international law)
This course focuses on how the world’s infrastructure is being shaped through law and governance. It is one of the UIC courses that provides the best quality lectures and students will be able to analyze the interface of international law and governance through the prism of issues such as piracy, global warming, and development. There are, however, a few downsides. The in-class midterm exam lasts for 5 hours while the final is 10 hours. Students might also have to sacrifice their holidays for make-up classes.
Prospective Career Paths
International Studies students have comparative advantage when it comes to choosing their career path. IS majors are not specifically confined to one field of study and this allows them to launch careers in various industries anywhere around the world. Also, UIC IS alumni have constantly stated that the high level of proficiency in English and critical thinking skills that they have obtained throughout their college life have greatly benefited them when seeking internships and full-time job positions after graduation.
Daewook Kwon [IS Class of 2009] now works for McKinsey & Company’s Amsterdam office as a management consultant. When he was a junior, he also worked for Boeing Company as an intern. At the recent alumni talk, he stated that the communication and strategic thinking skills that he developed throughout his IS major courses allowed him to excel in consulting firm case interviews. He was able to construct his unique analysis framework that impressed the interviewers, securing him the job position.
Sujin Kim [IS Class of 2013] is currently working at the International Labor Organization (ILO), a United Nations agency, planning and executing sustainable development projects in South America. She said in her recent career talk that she became interested in ILO when she took the International Organization and Law course taught by professor Man Kwon Kim. With assistance from IS professors, she was able to successfully apply for the ILO internship and was offered an official job position a few months later.
Other IS alumni have become successful lawyers or law school students of prestigious universities both in South Korea and abroad. There are also individuals who have joined the Korea National Diplomatic Academy to pursue a career as diplomats while others have started a finance or marketing career in multinational corporations such as P&G and Johnson & Johnson. Thus, it is clear how the IS major grants its students the merit to secure leadership positions in various areas such as government and foreign services, multinational corporations, law firms, and international organizations.