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World Studies

The World Studies Program (WSP) is a four-year course of study that integrates the best traditions of liberal arts learning and international studies with a six-to-eight-month working internship in a foreign culture. Upon completion of the program, students receive a Bachelor of Arts or Science in International Studies and graduate with the combined advantages of a liberal arts education and an international resumé—a head start in the world of international work.

WSP students have interned in journalism, business, education, human rights, public policy, agriculture, epidemiology, ecotourism, relief work, gender studies, development and scientific research. They have studied global issues from a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives: anthropology, environmental studies, computer science, literature, history, sociology, political science, economics, chemistry, biology and the arts. Graduates of the program have attended many prestigious graduate schools, including the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania and New York University. And today, the program’s graduates are working in such fields as law, environmental policy, social work, education and medicine.

Marlboro’s World Studies Program degree is granted in association with the School for International Training Graduate Institute in Brattleboro. SIT, a world leader in international education and exchange, sponsors programs for students and professionals from many different countries and offers opportunities for personal encounters with students, professionals and scholars from all over the globe.


WSP demands strong motivation on the part of its students. For those who rise to the challenge, the rewards are great. Often students in the program bond together based on common interests in global and cross-cultural issues. Students who complete the program develop self-knowledge, confidence and cross-cultural skills only the rarest undergraduates possess; and they become prime candidates for work in international fields.

The World Studies Program is designed to help students acquire the cultural framework, practical skills, intellectual tools and methods necessary to analyze local and global developments against the backdrop of history and in the light of differing values and traditions. Students acquire foreign language proficiency, develop skills in international job hunting and project design and gain first-hand experience living and working side-by-side with people of other cultures.

World Studies Program students are expected to develop:

  • An introductory knowledge of world history and cultures
  • An understanding of contemporary issues of global significance
  • Competence in cross-cultural communication, including proficiency in a foreign language, work experience in another culture, recognition of differing cultural values and reflection on one’s own values and place in the world
  • A deeper understanding of a particular world region, including its geography, culture, history and political, economic and environmental systems
  • A grasp of one or more academic disciplines, the fields of study in which Marlboro students do Plan work, and an ability to apply the concepts and methods of these disciplines to a particular problem or issue
  • The integration of academic and experiential learning, including the practical application of academic learning during the internship and the integration of internship experiences and learning into Plan work
  • An ability to communicate clearly through the written and spoken word


The WSP curriculum has five components: foreign language skills, foundation courses, internship preparation, internship and senior year synthesis. Each component relates to one or more of the stated goals.

From the outset, WSP students begin building a foundation for a lifetime of international work. During the first and second years, students study broadly in the liberal arts, learn to think analytically and improve writing skills, as well as study languages. Students explore the world’s civilizations from a variety of disciplinary perspectives in an effort to identify a particular area of interest that will serve as a focus for the final two years of study that leads to an individualized Plan of Concentration with an international or cross-cultural dimension. By the end of the second year, students choose a faculty sponsor and field of study. WSP graduates receive a Bachelor of Arts or Science in a particular degree field such as biology, sociology, visual arts or history (or a combination thereof) and international studies. In addition to the overview for WSP, students should also refer to various sections in the Course Book that relate to specific areas of study.

Electives: Three 4-credit courses to be fulfilled before the internship. Electives allow students flexibility in selecting courses with regional or global content of interest to them. Before setting off for the internship, WSP students must take at least three 4-credit courses. They must; (1) deal with different world areas (one may be global in scope); (2) be taught by different faculty; and (3) be taught in different fields of study. (Note: international students can take a course in American studies towards one of these WSP electives.)

Foreign Language: Language study in preparation of fieldwork and the internship phase. Students expecting to graduate from WSP are required to demonstrate oral proficiency in at least one foreign language by achieving an ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) rating of “Intermediate” or “Advanced” in the target language.

Internship: For most world studies students, the internship is the centerpiece of their four-year undergraduate education. It is the means by which theories and ideas studied in the classroom are put to the test in the “real” world. The experience is inevitably one of intense educational impact and personal growth. With the support and guidance of faculty sponsors and world studies staff, students find their own internships in organizations and design independent research that complements their positions. Internships may be volunteer or have a stipend. Hosting organizations can usually assist with housing arrangements in some form. Internships are six-to-eight months in duration.

SIT Graduate Course: (2-3 credits) Upon return to campus after internship, students enroll in a graduate level course at the School for International Training in Brattleboro. Based on availability, students may choose from a selection of courses that include area studies such as development, intercultural communication, social justice, conflict transformation, etc. (Advanced: Offered both fall and spring) Advanced | Credits: 1

World Studies Program Courses

This course prepares students for finding (primarily international) internships that support academic and professional work. It includes a self-inventory of interests, skills and experience, writing effective resumes and cover letters, job search and interviewing skills. Students also learn proposal writing for their independent study and examine cross-cultural considerations. Offered in spring. Pass/Fail. Prerequisite: None.     Introductory | Credits: 1

This course is designed to help students situate themselves in time and place, and to begin to think historically, culturally and geographically in the context of the natural world. It will address issues from across the world; each student will identify a region of particular interest to study in more depth. The course might begin with a general reading—perhaps discipline-specific—to serve as an intellectual introduction to the challenges of studying the recent past. Offered in spring. Required for WSP students; Open to non-WSP students. Prerequisite: None     Introductory | Credits: 4

This course is designed to encourage an examination of questions concerning the unity and diversity of the human situation in the world society of cultures. The purpose of this course is to engage in various analytic processes so as to better understand ourselves in relation to individuals from other cultures. This will help students prepare for cross-cultural work, by beginning to become comfortable with unfamiliarity and to understand that cultural differences, recognizable even in brief encounters, reach far beyond obvious variety to profound distinctions in worldview. Further, we will try to cultivate skills in recognizing and outlining intellectual approaches that could be pursued to gain cross-cultural understanding in future academic work both in the classroom and in the field. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor     Introductory | Credits: 4

A forum for discussion of cross-cultural experience and international work, with participation by faculty, visiting professionals, alumni and current students. The sessions include an introduction to international resources at Marlboro and SIT, with discussion of area studies, internships and Plans in international studies. All students are welcome; required for new WSP students. A weekly series designed to introduce students to international studies and to resources on campus and in the community. Students apply to WSP at the completion of this course. Offered in fall; Pass/Fail. Prerequisite: None     Introductory | Credits: 1

This course is designed to acquaint students who are preparing for independent research with a diverse range of fieldwork methods. We will consider matters of epistemology, access, observation, interviewing and surveying, collecting, note taking and reporting. Cross-cultural challenges and the ethics of fieldwork will also feature in our discussions. Over the course of the semester, students will develop an internship proposal that describes their academic and professional goals, explaining what they expect to learn; the methods of their independent work; resources found and still needed; and how the work will be evaluated. These proposals function as learning contracts for their academic sponsors, requests for funding for scholarship organizations and presentation pieces for the hosting organization. Required for WSP students; Open to non-WSP students. Prerequisite: Finding an Internship or permission of instructor    Intermediate | Credits: 3

A 10-week seminar addressing cultural differences and adaptation, and the integration of international field experiences into senior Plan work. Required of WSP seniors; for students returning from study or fieldwork abroad. Offered in fall; Pass/Fail. Prerequisite: Study/field experience abroad     Advanced | Credits: 1