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Center for International Studies opens opportunities for students

The Center for International Studies, or CIS, at Ohio University is an academic community that offers educational programs for students interested in global and international issues. The center offers programs within African Studies, Asian Studies, Communication and Development Studies, European Studies, Global Studies, Latin American Studies, International Development Studies and War and Peace Studies.

Patrick Barr-Melej, history professor and interim executive director for CIS, described the center’s interdisciplinary approach.

“(CIS) is an interdisciplinary academic unit, meaning that we provide academic programs that cross many disciplines across many colleges at the university,” Barr-Melej said. “We provide a global education in which students explore topics that reflect global concerns, ranging from development and sustainability to environmental concerns to culture and politics.”

Within its complex purpose, Barr-Melej said the center’s mission resides in the opportunities it offers to students and faculty through its global connections. 

“I like to say that we help bring the world to Ohio University, and we take Ohio University to the world,” Barr-Melej said. “The program really provides opportunities for students to explore their own personal interests in a global context, and we attract students from all over the world. So this is an academic unit that is extremely diverse. We are very much enriched by the presence of students and also faculty associated with the center and staff from all over the world.”

This semester, CIS is hosting various events to engage with its members and educate the student population. In particular, Barr-Melej said this fall semester will kick off a new event series for the center, which will focus specifically on current events impacting international topics. 

“Beginning this fall, we will be having a global current events series in which we will explore important happenings in today's world from the perspectives of professors, students, and others on and off campus to further educate us on global events,” Barr-Melej said.

Bose Maposa, the assistant director for graduate programs at CIS, said the specific areas of focus within CIS will highlight the current issues affecting their respective areas of the world. 

Alongside current events, Maposa also said the center will emphasize the importance of social justice issues happening around the world. 

“I think that the social justice aspect is an important take, so I am looking forward to more programming with Black Lives Matter and racial justice,” Maposa said. “Global movements is what the Center for International Studies is all about. I'm interested to see more on what we develop with that.”

Anastasiia Sakharova, a graduate student studying Latin American Studies, said the events CIS will be hosting are beneficial for students in that they illuminate other areas of the world to them. 

“I’m really enjoying the opportunity of organizing events and actually being part of this international community that we have because we have a lot of international students,” Sakharova said. “Our center is very diverse. This is something I really enjoyed because we get to know people from different parts of the world. We really have a lot of great events that can help us to broaden our horizons.”

Sakharova said these benefits have applied to her own studies as well. 

“I'm studying Latin America, and I'm from Ukraine, so in my country, the knowledge of Latin America is quite limited,” Sakharova said. “I always had to study extra on my own. I really received this raw knowledge about the region from the point of view of politics, history or economics. I'm really enjoying that.”

With the COVID-19 restrictions in place last year, the CIS was not able to operate normally. This year, however, Barr-Melej said the opportunities for the center are broader, enabling further connections between international students that make the center what it is. 

“I'm very excited to be in person this semester,” Barr-Melej said. “Especially because last year, COVID-19 prevented many of our International graduate students from coming to Athens. So this year, we have a large number of international graduate students in particular who were able to come to Athens and join us here. So, to have them here, to be teaching them in person and to be able to share space with them in events and interact with them face to face – there's nothing quite like that. We are so thrilled that we're able to do that this year.”


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