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New Major Bridges SPU, Seattle, and the World

Professor of Geography Kathleen Braden FYI: Millennial students — the generation of students entering college today — no longer have geographic barriers.

Thanks to technologies such as the Internet and instant messaging, news from around the globe is now available 24/7 at students’ fingertips. And so are interactions with far-away people and places.

“This is a generation engaged with the world,” says Kathleen Braden, professor of geography at Seattle Pacific University. “They tend to have international travel experience. They’re globally conscious, and they’re passionate about making a difference.”

Launching a New Major
To address this growing movement toward global awareness, SPU will launch a new major this autumn: global development studies. Led by Professor Braden, global development studies will combine interdisciplinary/cross-cultural learning with practical, real-world experiences to equip students to address local and global needs.

“The major is the first step in SPU’s global education initiative,” Braden says. “It will prepare students to aid nonprofit organizations by training students to be strong writers, savvy in business and financial management, with political and geographic knowledge of the world — all things CEOs of nonprofits say they need.”

While it’s not a new concept — institutions such as UCLA and Johns Hopkins offer global development studies — SPU is on the frontier of this type of major, especially in Christian colleges. And with training in such areas as theology, global health issues, and business-plan writing, as well as time spent in required internships, SPU’s students will be extremely well rounded going into the job market — especially Seattle’s market.

"Go Into Seattle!"

“As an urban center and a major port on the West Coast, Seattle is well positioned for global involvement,” says Braden. “Seattle is home to PATH, the Gates Foundation, World Vision, Agros, and other humanitarian organizations. It’s a center for global health research. We’re well connected in this city, which is why I tell students ‘Don’t just go overseas — go into Seattle!’”

As with any new program, there are challenges, including defining what “global development” means to the SPU community; securing resources to help economically disadvantaged students fulfill study abroad components of the major; and cultivating internship sites, especially among Seattle’s international corporations. But none of these challenges can dim Braden’s excitement about the degree.

“One’s peer group is almost as important as the institution a student attends,” she says. “This is drawing together an amazing peer group, a community of learners. Where God has called them, they will make a difference.”

And with training in global development studies, there will be even fewer barriers to doing so.

For more information about global development studies, please contact parents@spu.edu.

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