Global & Historical Studies

Global and Historical Studies (GHS) helps students build on the skills that they learn in their First-Year seminar by focusing on people, cultures, and histories outside of the United States. Students take two semesters of GHS and may choose from 12 different topics, which include classes on Latin America, Asia, and Africa, as well as courses that focus on gender, migration and movement, colonialism and post-colonialism, and the interconnectedness of various cultural regions.

GHS courses prompt students to be more analytical observers of the world and to develop a critical eye to the ways in which people and cultures outside of the United States are often depicted and represented. GHS is intentionally multidisciplinary, and students are asked to interrogate historical events through a multiplicity of sources. In so doing, students will continue to refine and sharpen their writing skills while also developing their ability to use evidence to make cogent arguments, become better readers, and develop the intellectual fluency needed to engage with the world in the 21st century.

Mission Statement

GHS asks Butler students to grapple with the complexity of the world and their place in it. It also seeks to cultivate a global mindset and prepare students to encounter an increasingly interconnected world. In so doing, GHS especially emphasizes the global connections between people, culture, history, and societies. GHS classes also ideally move beyond a simple embrace of multiculturalism and instead seek to advance the university’s mission in diversity, equity, and inclusion. In so doing, GHS uses global history to help students better understand and critique structures of inequality and to identify and challenge sources of global injustice.

GHS Faculty Spotlights

Dr. Shahrokhi is a professor of anthropology, and teaches courses with designated emphasis on race, gender and sexuality, peace studies, and art. Her scholarship focus is mostly on contemporary Middle East and among the Iranians in diaspora. Her newest work examines the discourse of refugees in the political north.

“I love teaching GHS classes as they serve students from across all the disciplines and background; I’m proud to have been engaged in the development of ModMENA and GW courses where students learn to how interconnected our world is and how to critically engage with history and global events that we examine in these courses.” – Dr. Shahrokhi

Dr. Sluis (rhymes with “house”) is a professor of Latin American history. Her scholarship focuses mostly on Mexico, but her courses cover all of Latin America and beyond! She is passionate teaching students about (im)migration, and loves taking students and colleagues abroad to Mexico, the Caribbean, South America and Amsterdam (her hometown). She is currently working on a book project about the intersections of shamanism, spiritual tourism, and indigenous identity in Mexico during the 1960s and 1970s.

“Teaching GHS is both challenging and extremely rewarding. It is the perfect platform to continually update and revise courses depending on current events, and bring these in conversation with historical themes and trajectories. I love to motivate students from all over the university to critically engage with the larger world we live in and feel actively connected with people and places across the globe! ” – Dr. Sluis

Global & Historical Studies FAQ

This course will provide an overview of South Asian civilizations in comparative perspective, and will focus on the subcontinent’s geography and history, its cultures and religions, its arts (i.e. music, dance, literature, and film), its notions of virtue and gender, its economic realities and role in the global marketplace, and its political development. Though covering the entire region, the course will pay particular attention to Pakistan and India, which, because of their religious demographics, provide an interesting contrast and a history of conflict. Nevertheless, the course will also draw attention to the ways in which religious, ethnic, communal, gender, and political lines have been blurred in South Asian history.

Ever since Toussaint-L’Ouverture led the first successful modern slave rebellion in Haiti in the late eighteenth century, defeating the armies of France, Britain, and Spain, the Caribbean has been a pivotal region in understanding the legacy of colonialism in the Americas. In this course, we will examine, from an interdisciplinary and comparative framework, the long history of interaction between the Caribbean and the West. Beginning with Christopher Columbus’s “discovery” of the New World, Europe’s development of the Atlantic slave trade, and the world-changing Haitian Revolution, we will follow the efforts of formerly colonized people of this region to forge new nations, cultures, and identities in the aftermath of European imperialism. Topics likely to receive particular emphasis this semester include Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism, Rastafarianism and Obeah (Voodoo), Bob Marley and Jamaican popular music, international capitalism and the tourist industry, and the role of Caribbean women in the struggle for postcolonial identity and the development of a diasporic consciousness.

This course will study the early modern establishment of nation states, the Enlightenment advocacy of human rights and constitutional government and the revolutionary movements to realize those ideas, the World Wars and the Cold War, and the establishment and expansion of the European Union.

Latin America is more than food and fútbol. Instead, “Latin America” is the complex product of colonial encounters, different forms of struggle, and multiple negotiations. This course introduces students to the study of Latin America through the lens of contact zones, i.e. places where different peoples and cultures “meet, clash, grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power.” Exploring how privilege, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and class, as cultural constructs, have emerged through colonial relations of power, the course aims to dismantle cultural stereotypes of the region by emphasizing the diversity and complexity of its peoples.

This course explores the interactions among China, Korea, and Japan. It will examine how each of the three states has contributed to the evolution of a common tradition, how each of them has benefited from the interactions, and how some of the interactions have caused destruction in the regions.

This course intends to explore the more complex realities of African responses to the imposition of European military, cultural, and economic domination in the colonial era and the effects of such responses continuing into the postcolonial period up to the present.

In this course, we will examine the means by which women around the globe work individually and collectively to gain basic human rights. Issues of culture, religion, tradition, beauty, tourism, health, war, immigration, and the media will be explored as we consider the possibilities for activism and resistance to oppression.

GHS208—“China and the Islamic Middle East”

This course examines the roots of the oldest continuing civilization today, China, and the origin and emergence of Islam as a major world culture and religion. It addresses the challenges of modernity for these two traditional cultures, particularly as they have responded to a world increasingly influenced by the West.

The course examines the cultural traditions of Europe and Nigeria and their confrontations with modernity in the 19th and 20th centuries. The old order ends in violence, replaced by the beginnings of democracy, science, capitalism and imperialism.

Students cannot fulfill the 6-hour requirement with both GHS209 “Revolutionary Europe and Nigeria” and GHS203 “Modernizing and Contemporary Europe” due to an overlap in course material.

What is freedom? What does it mean to be free? This course examines the changing meanings of freedom between the Age of Exploration and the present by exploring the transcontinental and transoceanic movements of people, ideas, and capital across Africa, the Americas, and Europe.

This class explores the historical and transnational formation of the modern Middle East and North African region. The modern MENA is home to millions of people from diverse ethnic backgrounds. We will learn about their life stories and examine the political, cultural, economic, religious, and “poetic” everyday practices of the region.

Asians are one of the fastest growing minoritized communities in the Americas and have influenced the history, culture, language, religion, economics, and politics of the region over the last two centuries. But what do you know of the diversity and complexity of these communities and their lived experiences? GHS 212 invites you to embark on this transpacific journey of discovery through the lenses of history and critical social justice, using an exciting array of sources and disciplines ranging from the arts, humanities, and the social sciences to uncover untold stories of the Asian Americas.

Section enrollment and permission number distribution are based on class size and need, as determined by the GHS Director.  You may request permission into a closed section of GHS by submitting the GHS Permission Form.

The GHS Director makes every effort to accommodate student preference when determining permission number distribution, but students are not guaranteed a seat in their preferred section.

*If GHS cannot accommodate your preference, the Director will find a spot for all students awaiting a permission number in a class that 1) fits the student’s schedule, and 2) observes GHS enrollment guidelines.

Students will receive an exemption for one of their Global and Historical Studies courses (3 hours) after successful completion of 9 or more credit hours of coursework while studying abroad in a Butler-approved program.

If you do not receive an automatic exemption for one of your Global and Historical Studies courses (3 hours), you are free to petition for an exemption if you have completed 6 or more credit hours of course work while studying abroad in a Butler-approved program. Please inquire via the Core Curriculum Office at or 317-940-9480. Once reviewed by the GHS Director, you will be notified of request approval/denial based on course content, length of study, and/or other experiences consonant with GHS learning objectives. (In order to make the exemption approval process as fair and transparent as possible, students and programs are strongly encouraged to consult with the GHS Director in advance of actual study abroad.)

International students will automatically receive an exemption for one their Global and Historical Studies courses (3 hours).  International students are defined as “non-immigrant” visitors who come to the United States temporarily to take classes.  A non-immigrant is someone who:

  • Intends to stay in the US temporarily
  • Does not have US citizenship or legal permanent resident status (a “green card”)
  • Applies for a visa to be allowed entry into the US
  • Has an F-1 or J-1 student visa (currently, all international students at Butler have F-1 or J-1 status)

Students cannot fulfill the 6-hour requirement by taking both GHS209 “Revolutionary Europe and Nigeria” and GHS203 “Contemporary Europe” due to an overlap in the material.