Global Affairs accepts first class

The new global affairs major has selected its first class of students, accepting less than 50 percent of those who applied.

The program, which will offer a hands-on approach to the study of international security and development and will replace the international studies major next fall, admitted 50 current sophomores from an applicant pool of over 100, Director of the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs James Levinsohn said. Six accepted students interviewed said they chose to apply because the program’s requirements include on-the-ground policy work as well as academic research.

Instead of senior essays, students in the major will complete “capstone” projects in which they will be paired with real clients from around the world and asked to advise them on how to manage their operations. Levinsohn said he thought the capstone project was an important draw to the program.

“I am not surprised by the interest in the capstone projects since, quite frankly, they sound pretty cool to me too,” he said in a Wednesday email. “But the major is certainly not ‘pre-professional.’ I think the capstone project is a nice complement to the liberal arts education.”

Levinsohn said a committee consisting of himself and two of his colleagues discussed each application individually and was “more than satisfied” with the final group. Enrollment in the inaugural class was capped at 50, Levinsohn said, adding that he is not sure whether the number will change in future years. Admission to the Global Affairs program was more competitive than to the notoriously selective Program of Ethics, Politics and Economics, which program director Nicholas Sambanis said took 34 of 64 applicants this winter.

While the international studies major was available exclusively as a second major, Levinsohn said he thinks it will be difficult to balance the requirements of the global affairs major with another major.

“When I think of the requirements for, say, economics, and global affairs, I don’t think it will be too easy to double major,” he said.

But three of six admitted students interviewed said they were considering pursuing a double major.

Andi Zhou ’13 said he plans to major in music in addition to global affairs. He added that he has examined the requirements for both, and is confident he will be able to complete them.

Other students said they have nearly completed one major, and can devote much of their junior and senior years to global affairs without worrying about a second set of requirements. Andrew Calder ’13 said he is almost done with the economics major and Molly Ma ’13 said the same of political science.

All the new global affairs majors interviewed said the program’s combined emphasis on academics and real-world policymaking made it more practical than other majors that cover similar material, such as political science or ethics, politics and economics.

“Internationally, problems are not solved with a textbook,” said Yiming Ma ’13, a student admitted to the Global Affairs program.

For Aaron Feuer ’13, another student admitted to the major, the faculty who will teach in the Global Affairs program piqued his interest.

“What drew me to the major is the professors, who all have real-life experience,” he said. “They’re all in-depth, analytical thinkers who have done their parts.”

Yale College faculty approved the creation of the global affairs major in a vote on Dec. 2, 2010.

David Burt contributed reporting.

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