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The missing major


Nestled in the Political Science Department in Holland Hall sits the international relations (IR) concentration. The concentration has excellent structure; it was clearly carefully designed. The requirements are five to six credits: the title course, International Relations; a course in a related discipline; one world language course or two “world region” courses; and two more poli-sci courses at level 200 or higher within the international subfield.


As I said, the concentration is well designed to give a narrow but expansive feel for the field of international relations, giving anyone who studies faith in their abilities. However, wouldn’t it be nice if it were a major? Macalester College has both an international studies major and an international development major, and Hamline has an international studies major. So why doesn’t St. Olaf?


I think St. Olaf could actually do better — an international relations degree would be more valuable than one in general international studies. In international studies, you learn history and culture, both of which are noble pursuits and important fields, which is why there are other majors for both. International relations covers how countries interact with each other on a global scale. International relations challenges theories of power and humanity, and asks students to contribute to the global conversation of when to provide aid, stop threats, or live in a society. Having international relations as a chapter in Holland Hall, right between the Social Studies departments and the Political Science Department, would round out the liberal arts path through the humanities which are already housed in Holland. 


To expand the concentration into a major, I would recommend including more classes that concern humanitarian issues and refugee rights. In the international community, the rights of refugees are always being debated, so having more well-educated scholars coming out of St. Olaf ready to contribute to the global conversation could very well help save lives in the world.


Jacob Rozell is from Fairbanks, Alaska.

His major is Creative Writing.