New College of Liberal Studies Degree Introduced

New CLS Degree: World Cultural StudiesThe University of Oklahoma College of Liberal Studies has introduced a new degree program – a Bachelor of Arts in World Cultural Studies. This program offers an interdisciplinary approach designed to help students understand cultural groups and pressing global issues, focusing on three important themes: cultural fluency, global security, and social justice. The degree is targeted toward adult nontraditional learners, especially military personnel.

“One of the goals of the World Cultural Studies program is to cultivate students’ abilities to navigate cross-cultural challenges,” said Robert Edmondson, a full-time College of Liberal Studies professor specializing in Asian Studies, world cultural studies and social justice. “The World Cultural Studies program equips students with cultural fluency – the ability to effectively assess the cultural environment, accurately identify potential conflicts and conceptualize practical strategies to avoid predictable errors.”

This degree prepares graduates with practical skills that will help them gain insight into current and emerging global issues. The curriculum emphasizes real-world learning objectives to help military service members deployed abroad or adults interested in travel, international trade, faith-based initiatives, hospitality industries, foreign journalism or diplomacy. The courses also feature many real-life stories and examples to illustrate how to handle complex cross-cultural issues. The program also includes applied language courses to facilitate improved communication with other cultures.

Students will learn through a variety of materials including literary works by renowned authors, cutting-edge documentaries, critically acclaimed films, influential artistic works and engaging guest lecture videos. These will help adult learners gain everyday skills that will help them thrive in foreign cultures.

Graduates with this degree will have the opportunity to forge interpersonal relationships with people whose beliefs, values and traditions differ drastically from their own. The program intends to broaden the professional horizons of military personnel and others, while also helping them learn about themselves in the process.

“Our graduates will not only thrive professionally with highly sought after cross-cultural competencies but also help shape the world that their children and grandchildren will inherit,” said Edmondson.

The program enables adult learners to specialize in various cultural areas and groups. The first of these is a Chinese track. Those who specialize in this track will gain insight into Chinese society and practical cross-cultural communication skills that are essential for productive international relations and strategic global security planning.

“This degree program is a direct result of U.S. military officials asking us for an applied program that will help service members who are deployed in foreign settings,” said James Pappas, Vice President for Outreach and Dean of the College of Liberal Studies. “In the near future, we hope to add additional tracks that will include Russia, the Middle East, Africa and other areas.”

The program is off to a strong start with its first courses, Introduction to World Cultural Studies and Chinese Culture and Civilization, launching in the spring 2013 semester. In the fall, students will be able to take Cultural Geography of China. Contemporary Chinese Political Thought and Chinese Military Issues will be offered in 2014. More classes will be added in future semesters.

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