A graduate program in Global Studies

Last updated: May 22, 2015 at 1:48 p.m.


Graduate Program in Global Studies
As even casual attention to recent mass media outlets attests, the term "globalization" is widely used to refer to diverse—possibly even unconnected—processes in the economic, cultural, political, and environmental domains. What seems to characterize "global" phenomena such as climate change, transnational capital flow, and the internet, for example, is that their causes and effects ramify all across the earth, viewed both as a bio-physical totality and as a social space. In doing so, these and other global phenomena reveal unprecedented levels of interconnectedness that bring into play institutional agents and institutions that transcend local, national, and regional boundaries. The program in Global Studies is designed to provide students with analytical and methodological skills to investigate globalization both specifically and generally—specifically, by offering advanced training in one relevant academic concentration and independent research leading to a Master’s Thesis; and generally, by exposing students to a broad range of elective courses taught by faculty from the university’s School of Arts and Sciences, Heller School of Social Policy and Management, and International Business School. The program prepares students for a variety of professional and academic trajectories. For some students the MA degree will be an important credential for advancement in already-chosen career paths; for others the degree will be preparation for advanced professional degree programs in law, diplomacy, international health, etc.; and for others their Brandeis experience will be a stepping stone toward admission to the most selective doctoral programs.

How to Be Admitted to the Graduate Program

The general requirements for admission to the Graduate School, given in an earlier section of this Bulletin, apply to candidates for admission to this area of study. Candidates must also submit a personal statement that discusses their reasons for applying for this MA, and their academic training, career objectives, relevant experience, and current institutional affiliation (if any). A single sample of academic writing and two letters of recommendation are also required. Students are encouraged, though not required, to visit the campus and to talk to the director and others members of the faculty advisory committee.

Faculty Committee

Chandler Rosenberger, Director

David Engerman

Elizabeth Emma Ferry

Kristen Lucken
(International and Global Studies, Sociology)

Richard J. Parmentier

John Plotz

Laurence Simon
(Heller School)

Affiliated Faculty
Richard Parmentier (Anthropology)

Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts

Program of Study
This graduate program involves a minimum of one academic year in residence at Brandeis in which students complete eight courses, including seven semester-long courses and a master’s thesis, which counts as one course. The curriculum includes three required and foundational courses, two electives in an area of concentration and two additional electives.  

Students must successfully complete eight semester courses, including:

A. Two core courses: GS 201a (Global Agents), GS 202b (Critical Global Issues).
B. One graduate-level course in methodology.
C. Two elective courses in one area of concentration.
D. Two elective courses in Global Studies.
E. GS 204a (Master’s Thesis).

In consultation with the director, each student develops an area of concentration from the following:

Civil Society and Human Rights
Communications and Media
Culture and Globalization
Global and Regional Governance
Global Environment
Global Health
Global Political Economy
Social Justice and Gender

Residence Requirement
The residence requirement for this program is one year of full-time study. The program may take an additional one or two semesters to complete as an Extended Master's student.

Master’s Thesis
The master’s thesis must be deposited electronically to the Robert D. Farber University Archives at Brandeis.

Global Economy Requirement
Although this program does not offer advanced technical training in global economics, it is essential that students have a solid grasp of the basics in this field. Students entering the program without a strong background in the global economy will be required to take one elective course in this field, such as GS 203b, selected in consultation with the director.

Language Requirement
Knowledge of foreign languages, both written and oral, is important for understanding the complexity of other cultures, for functioning effectively in a non-Anglophone environment, and for accessing a broad range of primary sources and secondary literature. All Global Studies students must have advanced training in a foreign language, defined as at least one level beyond the undergraduate requirement at Brandeis. In cases where students lack sufficient language training, they can satisfy this requirement by an intensive summer course (either the semester before or after the residence year), by taking the corresponding course at Brandeis (as an additional course) or by private study and a qualifying language examination at the end of the second semester.

Courses of Instruction

(200 and above) Primarily for Graduate Students

GS 201a Global Agents
A foundational seminar providing an introduction to the literature on globalization as well as a look at the key players in international affairs (UN, World Bank/IMF, TNCs, NGOs, and regional organizations). The objective of the course is to make a critical analysis of these organizations and to assess the research resources and databases they generate. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Rosenberger

GS 202b Critical Global Issues
This foundational seminar examines key issues from the primary area of concentration in the global studies program. The specific focus of the seminar will vary from year to year, reflecting the changing relevance of particular issues as well as the specific interests of the instructor. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Lucken

GS 203b The Global Economy
Examines international production, trade, tariffs, multinational corporations, global economic institutions (World Bank, IMF), globalization, development and labor. Usually offered every year.

GS 204a Master's Thesis

GS 301a Readings and Research in Global Studies
Mr. Parmentier

Global Studies: Methodology Courses

Students may choose from the following list of courses that deal with the methodology for the design and implementation of research projects. Other graduate courses from relevant disciplines dealing with research methods may be substituted with the permission of the director.

ANTH 202b Advanced Ethnographic Research Methods
An intensive study of anthropological research and ethnographic practice, with particular attention to topic formation, field notes and evocative writing. Combines discussions ethnography with writing workshops. Readings include essays on research methodology and critiques of ethnographic practice, as well as ethnographic monographs that demonstrate sophisticated fieldwork practices. Writing workshops cover issues such as taking notes in the field and describing scenes, speech in action, characters, language and affect. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Anjaria

HS 306f Survey Design and Data Analysis for Development
Meets for one-half semester and yields half-course credit.
Provides students with an introduction to survey design and applied principles of data analysis in development. Topics include research design (hypothesis formulation, model building), data collection (principles of survey design, definition and measurement of variables, cross-sectional and panel surveys, focus groups and pilot tests), and data analysis (statistical and social significance; univariate, bivariate, and multivariate analysis). Usually offered every year.
Mr. Godoy

POL 100b Political Science Methods: Research, Design, and Modes of Analysis
[ qr ss ]
Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or higher.
An introduction to nonstatistical research methods for analyzing political processes. Moves from selecting problems to composing a focused research question, examining relevant theory, conceptualizing variables, generating hypotheses, research design, research operations, and analysis. Uses examples from comparative, international, and American politics. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Kryder

POL 212a Graduate Seminar: Research Methods and Methodology
Familiarizes students with the major research techniques of a qualitative nature for political science and addresses central issues in the logic of inquiry in social science. Issues and techniques include the case study method, the comparative method, counterfactual, and research design. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Kryder

SOC 136b Historical and Comparative Sociology
[ ss ]
Explores the relationship between sociology and history through examples of scholarship from both disciplines. Using historical studies, the course pays close attention to each author's research strategy. Examines basic research questions, theoretical underpinnings and assumptions, and uses of evidence. Usually offered every third year.
Mr. Rosenberger or Ms. Hansen

SOC 181a Methods of Social Inquiry
[ ss ]
Prerequisite: SOC 1a or SOC 3b. Registration priority given to juniors and seniors.
Introduces students to qualitative and quantitative approaches to social research. Throughout the course emphasis is on conceptual understanding, with hands-on applications and exercises. No statistical or mathematical background is necessary. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Cadge

Global Studies Elective Courses

Each student must successfully complete two elective courses relevant to their chosen area of concentration. This coursework provides the basis for the student's research and writing of the Masters Thesis. (Note that the Heller School modules, courses indicated with an "f" after the course number, are half-semester courses; two such modules must be chosen to constitute one elective course.) Students may take graduate-level courses other than the ones listed below with the permission of the director.

AAAS 117a Communications and Social Change in Developing Nations
[ ss ]
Examines the role of communications and information systems within and between developed and underdeveloped nations. Addresses the larger perspective of global communications. Usually offered every third year.
Mr. Nyangoni

AAAS 125b Caribbean Women and Globalization: Sexuality, Citizenship, Work
[ ss wi ]
Utilizing perspectives from sociology, anthropology, fiction, and music to examine the relationship between women's sexuality and conceptions of labor, citizenship, and sovereignty. The course considers these alongside conceptions of masculinity, contending feminisms, and the global perspective. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Smith

AAAS 126b Political Economy of the Third World
[ nw ss wi ]
Development of capitalism and different roles and functions assigned to all "Third Worlds," in the periphery as well as the center. Special attention will be paid to African and Afro-American peripheries. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Nyangoni

AAAS 134b Novel and Film of the African Diaspora
[ hum nw ]
Writers and filmmakers, who are usually examined separately under national or regional canonical categories such as "(North) American," "Latin American," "African," "British," or "Caribbean," are brought together here to examine transnational identities and investments in "authentic," "African," or "black" identities. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Smith

AAAS 146a Africa in the Global Economy
[ ss ]
This course makes an important contribution to our understanding of Africa's relationship within the world economy and to our awareness of how economic liberalization programs and World Trade Organizational (WTO) systems are influencing the continent's industries. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Nyangoni

ANTH 108b History, Time, and Tradition
[ ss ]
Explores topics relating to the historical dimension of societies in cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspectives: the cultural construction of the past, temporal and calendrical systems, the invention of tradition, ethnohistorical narrative, cultural memory and forgetting, historical monuments, and museums. Usually offered every third year.
Mr. Parmentier

ANTH 114b Verbal Art and Cultural Performance
[ ss ]
Cross-cultural and interdisciplinary study of genres of verbal art and oral performance. Complex social uses of verbal arts in festival, drama, ritual, dance, carnival, and spectacle. Difficulty of reconstructing original context of narrative, oratory, poetry, and epic. Usually offered every third year.
Mr. Parmentier

ANTH 121a Crossing Cultural Boundaries
[ ss ]
May not be taken for credit by students who have taken ANTH 33b in prior years.
An examination of situations where individuals, either actually or imaginatively, willingly or unwillingly, cross over the boundaries separating their own culture and other cultural traditions. The understandings and misunderstandings that result from these encounters are examined in primary texts and images and in scholarly reconstructions. Transient experiences are compared with sites that develop over a long period of time (colonial settlements, plantations, frontiers). Potentials for reflexive self-understanding and meaningful dialogue are sought in fictional and nonfictional representations of boundary crossings. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Parmentier

ANTH 127a Medicine, Body, and Culture
[ nw ss ]
Examines main areas of inquiry in medical anthropology, including medicine as a sociocultural construct, political and economic dimensions of suffering and health, patients and healers in comparative medical systems, and the medical construction of men's and women's bodies. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Lamb or Ms. Hannig

ANTH 129b Global and Transnational Processes
[ ss ]
Examines the social and cultural dimensions of globalization from an anthropological perspective. It starts by critically engaging with more fundamental concepts such as state, identity, and movement. It then proceeds to debate the various contributions that anthropologists have presented to the understanding of human life in global, transnational, and diasporic contexts. Topics to be discussed include place, migration, religion, global sexual cultures, kinship, and technology—all within a global perspective. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Anjaria, Ms. Ferry or Ms. Lamb

ANTH 130b Visuality and Culture
[ ss ]
Explores the nature of the visual image in sociocultural theory and in ethnographic representation. Topics include the history of ethnographic film, development of indigenous arts, visuality in popular culture and mass consumption, and film in postcolonial representation. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Schattschneider

ANTH 139b Language, Ethnicity, and Nationalism
[ ss ]
It is often assumed that language differences divide people, while a common language unites them. To what extent is this true? Taking cross-cultural and historical approaches, we examine the role of language in creating concepts of tribe, ethnicity, and nation. Explores what kinds of social groupings these terms might label, some ideologies connected with their use, and their relationship with communication systems. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. McIntosh

ANTH 144a The Anthropology of Gender
[ nw ss wi ]
This course offers a 2-credit optional Experiential Learning practicum.
Examines gender constructs, sexuality, and cultural systems from a comparative perspective. Topics include the division of labor, rituals of masculinity and femininity, the vexing question of the universality of women's subordination, cross-cultural perspectives on same-sex sexualities and transsexuality, the impact of globalization on systems, and the history of feminist anthropology. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Hannig, Ms. Lamb or Ms. Schattschneider

ANTH 163b Production, Consumption, and Exchange
[ nw ss ]
Prerequisite: ANTH 1a, ECON 2a, ECON 10a, or permission of the instructor.
We read in newspapers and books and hear in everyday discussion about "the economy," an identifiably separate sphere of human life with its own rules and principles and its own scholarly discipline (economics). The class starts with the premise that this "common sense" idea of the economy is only one among a number of possible perspectives on the ways people use resources to meet their basic and not-so-basic human needs. In the course, we draw on cross-cultural examples, and take a look at the cultural aspects of finance, corporations, and markets. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Ferry

BIOL 134b Topics in Ecology
[ oc sn ]
Prerequisites: BIOL17b, BIOL23a, or BIOL 32a, or permission of the instructor. Topics may vary from year to year. Please consult the Course Schedule for topic and description. Course may be repeated once for credit with permission of the instructor.
Annually, a different aspect of the global biosphere is selected for analysis. In any year the focus may be on specific ecosystems (e.g., terrestrial, aquatic, tropical, arctic), populations, system modeling, restoration ecology, or other aspects of ecology. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Hitchcock

COML 165a Reading, Writing, and Teaching across Cultures
[ hum nw wi ]
Examines contemporary literary representations of literacy, schooling, and language from a cross-cultural perspective. Students also analyze their own educational trajectories and experiences with writing and reading. Usually offered every year.

ENG 127b Migrating Bodies, Migrating Texts
[ hum nw ]
Beginning with the region's representation as a tabula rasa, examines the textual and visual constructions of the Caribbean as colony, homeland, backyard, paradise, and Babylon, and how the region's migrations have prompted ideas about evolution, hedonism, imperialism, nationalism, and diaspora. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Smith

FREN 165b Subsaharan Africa and the French Language
[ fl hum nw ]
Prerequisite: FREN 106b or the equivalent, or permission of the instructor.
Studies writing in French in Subsaharan Africa, with particular emphasis upon its cultural and historical contexts. Topics include Negritude, African languages, defining "tradition," oral and written literature, Islam, film, and gender. Usually offered every second year.

HIST 179a Labor, Gender, and Exchange in the Atlantic World, 1600-1850
[ ss ]
An examination of the interaction of cultures in the Atlantic World against a backdrop of violence, conquest, and empire-building. Particular attention is paid to the structure and function of power relations, gender orders, labor systems, and exchange networks. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Sreenivasan

HIST 206b Globalization and Religion: Twentieth-Century Christianity
Examines the fundamental dynamics, issues, and findings recent scholarship on the transformation of Christianity in the twentieth century, with particular attention to the impact of war, secularization, and globalization. Usually offered every third year.
Mr. Freeze

HIST 215a World History
Designed to introduce students to the methods, sources, and writings about global and non-Western histories. Taught collectively by specialists in Latin American, Asian, African, and Middle Eastern history. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Sreenivasan

HS 236a International Health Systems and Development
Provides students with the framework to understand how health systems are organized and to understand what affects their performance. Students also will be able to describe key features of health systems; how health system performance is measured; and how lessons from other countries can be applied to their own countries. The course examines different health system frameworks, how to use these frameworks to ask health system questions, different aspects of health systems, how national health systems differ, and what measures are being implemented in different countries to improve their health system performance and eventually health outcomes. The course will also take a broader look at the relationships between health policy, economic policy and development policy, examining some of the main economic and development theories shaping global policies and also examine the international institutions and political dynamics in health policy making. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Bowser

HS 253f HIV/AIDS and Public Policy
Meets for one-half semester and yields half-course credit.
Geared toward students with limited experience in HIV/AIDS as a public policy issue. In the first sessions, students learn the key perspectives to frame the HIV/AIDS epidemic as a policy issue, including an economic perspective, a social impact perspective, and a rights perspective. The second half of the course reviews lessons from the international experience in responding to the epidemic. Attention is given to sector-based interventions and necessary coordination between sectors for specific interventions to be effective. Usually offered every year.

HS 262f Culture, Power, and Development
Meets for one-half semester and yields half-course credit.
Students engage with constructs of cultural superiority, debate about modernization, and learn about what motivates individual and cultural change. Students are introduced to alternative theoretical approaches to culture and development and learn how to apply those theories to different historical contexts as well as contemporary situations. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Ready

HS 268f Rule of Law and Development
Meets for one-half semester and yields half-course credit.
Explores whether law is critical to development. If it is, how and with respect to what kind of development, and what means are available to maximize the law’s beneficial impact. Through readings, case studies, and development projects, students examine the use of the legal order to solve problems of poverty, vulnerability, and environmental degradation in developing nations. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Russell-Einhorn

HS 269f Food Security and Nutrition
Meets for one-half semester and yields half-course credit.
Examines the interconnectedness of agricultural policy and planning, food policy, nutrition policy, and outcomes of nutritional status. Students explore definitions of "hunger” and “malnutrition." The planning and analytical process of defining nutritional problems at the village and household level are discussed, along with appropriate technologies and techniques to resolve food security problems. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Lockwood

HS 276f World Health
Meets for one-half semester and yields half-course credit.
A primer on major diseases and problems of health care in developing nations. Topics include descriptions of disease incidence and prevalence, including infectious, chronic, and mental disease; determinants of health, including culture and behavior; the roles of nutrition, education, and reproductive trends and poverty; demographic transitions, including aging and urbanization; the structure and financing of health systems; and the globalization of health. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Bhalotra

HS 283f Gender and Development
Meets for one-half semester and yields half-course credit.
Examines politics and policies of international development from a gender-sensitive perspective. Concepts of "development" and “gender” are framed within historical and political contexts. Students examine how development affects women and men differently according to class, ethnicity, geography, age, and seniority. Ways in which gender asymmetries have been addressed in development and approaches to mainstreaming gender are explored. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Espinosa or Ms. Ready

HS 286f Civil Society and Non-Governmental Organizations
Meets for one-half semester and yields half-course credit.
The phenomenal growth in non-governmental organizations throughout the world in the past two decades has transformed the delivery of development assistance and relationships between the north and south. This course examines the nature of civil society, types of and relationships among NGOs, and NGO relationships with the state, multilateral and bilateral organizations, and community organizations.

HS 293f Religion and Development
Meets for one-half semester and yields half-course credit.
Explores the world’s different faith traditions and how they define and treat the problem of poverty. The class takes a critical look at conditions by which religion provides a source of liberation from human suffering and strategies for sustainable development. Students also examine how power is transformed along gender, class, racial, ethnic, and national lines when religions confront one another. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Sampath

HSSP 102a Global Perspectives on Health
[ ss ]
A primer on major issues in health care in developing nations. Topics include the natural history of disease and levels of prevention; epidemiological transitions; health disparities; and determinants of health including culture, social context, and behavior. Also covers: infectious and chronic disease incidence and prevalence; the role of nutrition, education, reproductive trends, and poverty; demographic transition including aging and urbanization; the structure and financing of health systems; and the globalization of health. Usually offered every year.

POL 127a Ending Deadly Conflict
[ ss wi ]
Prerequisite: POL 127b or permission of the instructor.
Examines strategies for ending violent internal (primarily ethnic) conflicts, with emphasis on identifying conditions conducive to negotiated settlements. Case studies are examined in light of analytical literature. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Burg

POL 127b Seminar: Managing Ethnic Conflict
[ ss wi ]
Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or higher.
Comparative study of the sources and character of interethnic conflict, with emphasis on the processes by which groups become politicized, and the strategies and techniques for managing conflict in a democratic system. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Burg

POL 134b The Global Migration Crisis
[ ss wi ]
Looks at immigration from the perspectives of policy-makers, migrants, and the groups affected by immigration in sender nations as well as destination countries. Introduces students to the history of migration policy, core concepts and facts about migration in the West, and to the theories and disagreements among immigrant scholars. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Klausen

POL 145b Muslims in the West: Politics, Religion, and Law
[ ss ]
Few issues have caused more public furor than the accommodation of Islam in Europe and the United States. It is often overlooked that Muslims are developing the institutions of their faith in societies that offer everyone the freedom of choice and expression. This seminar looks at religious discrimination as a barrier to the civic and political inclusion of Muslim immigrants, the responses of governments, courts, and the general public, and what we know about the balance among "fundamentalist, " "moderate," and "progressive" Muslim viewpoints. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Klausen

POL 167a United States and China in World Politics
[ ss ]
Issues in U.S.-China relations, including Taiwan and Tibet, the formation of a Greater China, military security and use of nuclear weapons, human rights, Chinese and American versions of nationalism and internationalism, and others. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Thaxton

POL 172b Seminar: International Political Economy
[ ss ]
Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or higher.
The politics and modern evolution of international economic relations, comprising trade, money, multinational productions, and development. Also the role of states and transnational actors in international markets and the global differentiation of power, and distribution of wealth. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Chase

POL 173a U.S. Foreign Economic Policy
[ oc ss wi ]
Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above.
Presents the history and politics of the foreign economic policy in the United States. Emphasis is on political and economic considerations that influence the domestic actors and institutions involved in the formulation of policy. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Chase

POL 174b Seminar: Problems of National Security
[ ss ]
Analysis of the role and utility of military power in international politics. Selected case studies from the last fifty years. Selected topics on post-Cold War military issues, including the spread of weapons of mass destruction, collective approaches to coercion, and the role of U.S. military power in world stability. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Art

POL 214b Graduate Seminar: Selected Topics in World Politics
Provides graduate students an opportunity to engage in research and discussion of selected issues in the international dimensions of world politics. Each term it deals with a different topic in greater depth than is possible in the context of the program's field seminar in this area. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Art or Mr. Chase

SAS 110b South Asian Postcolonial Writers
[ hum nw ]
Examines the postcolonial novel written in English within the shared history of colonialism, specifically British imperialism, for South Asia. Writers include R.K. Narayan, Salman Rushdie, Anita Desai, Arundhati Roy, Mohsin Hamid, Romesh Gunesekera and Daniyal Mueenudin. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Singh

SAS 140a We Who Are at Home Everywhere: Narratives from the South Asian Diaspora
[ hum ]
Looks at narratives from various locations of the South Asian Diaspora, while paying close attention to the emergence of an immigrant South Asian public culture. Examines novels, poetry, short stories, film, and music in order to further an understanding of South Asian immigrant culture. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Singh

SOC 120b Globalization and the Media
[ ss ]
Investigates the phenomenon of globalization as it relates to mass media. Topics addressed include the growth of transnational media organizations, the creation of audiences that transcend territorial groupings, the hybridization of cultural styles, and the consequences for local identities. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Miller

SOC 146a Mass Communication Theory
[ ss ]
An examination of key theories in mass communication, including mass culture, hegemony, the production of culture, and public sphere. Themes discussed include the nature of media effects, the role of the audience, and the extent of diversity in the mass media. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Miller

SOC 168a Democracy and Inequality in Global Perspective
[ ss ]
Can democracy survive great inequalities of wealth and status? In authoritarian countries, does inequality inspire revolution or obedience? What role does culture play in determining which inequalities are tolerable and which are not? Cases include the United States, India, and China. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Rosenberger

SOC 189a Sociology of Body and Health
[ ss ]
Explores theoretical considerations of the body as a cultural phenomenon intersecting with health, healing, illness, disease, and medicine. Focuses on how gender, race, class, religion, and other dimensions of social organization shape individual experiences and opportunities for agency and resistance. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Shostak

SOC 193a Environment, Health, and Society
[ ss ]
This course draws on sociological perspectives to examine two key questions: (1) How does social organization enter into the production of environmental health and illness? and (2) How do scientists, regulators, social movement activists, and people affected by illness seek to understand, regulate, and intervene in relationships between the environment and human health? Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Shostak