Core Curriculum

Second Year - Global and Historical Studies

Course Structure

Two courses taken in the second year, chosen from a list of three-hour courses.

Learning Objectives

  • To employ a conceptual framework for global and historical studies which appreciates cultures as  dynamic, heterogeneous, and constantly in conversation with one another.

  • To draw on a variety of sources and disciplines - including the arts, the humanities and the social and natural sciences.

  • To recognize both the benefits and challenges of living in a culturally diverse and increasingly globalized world.

  • To continue development of skills of expository writing.

Global and Historical Studies engages student in an investigation of and reflection about cultures different from their own, especially non-western cultures.  In Dr. Donald Braid's course, Change & Tradition in China & the Islamic Middle East, students examine the roots of the oldest continuing civilization today, China, and the origin and emergence of Islam as a major world culture and religion.  Students don't just address the challenges of modernity for these two traditional cultures in the classroom, however.  Face-to-face conversations with Muslim individuals affiliated with the Nur-Allah Islamic Center, and Iraqi and Palestinian refugees help "break through stereotyped beliefs and get students to understand Muslims as human beings," Braid says.  "The interviews provide an opportunity for students to go well beyond the surface," he continues, "to ask questions and to probe issues about gender, belief, practice, and daily life that reveal the layer of common humanity."

In the course, Resistance and Rights: Global Women, built collaboratively by faculty affiliated with the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies program, students' exploration of the world centers on sex and gender.  "What it means to be a man or a woman in any given culture shapes people's experiences and struggles throughout the world," according to Dr. Kristin Hoerl.  Yet "what it means to be a man or women in society. . . doesn't ever mean the same thing to every culture.  The challenge of the course is to make sense of this complexity."

Dr. Craig Auchter, in his course Frontiers in Latin America, agrees that helping students gain an understanding of a part of the world different than their own is crucial.  "Most North Americans," he suggests, "know relatively little about South and Central Americans and much of that is based on misperceptions from movies and TV."  Butler students explore a "series of 'frontier moments'," Auchter explains, "including the experiences of Portuguese and Spanish colonization, indigenous knowledge and cultural adaptation, the global process of modernization, environmental degradation and sustainability efforts, changing gender roles, and patterns of migration."  This global and historical "laboratory" that is Latin America matters.  "As our students grapple with the challenges and opportunities presented by a world of diverse cultures . . . and their own understanding of borders in the context of our common humanity and contingent future, a careful study of the experiences of our hemispheric neighbors," Auchter makes clear, "teaches us much about ourselves as well as what we can learn from others as we set about shaping the twenty-first century."