IRG Study Tracks
NOTE: A course that falls within multiple tracks, or appears on the world history and track lists, may only count once toward the IRG major.
Track I. Culture, Media, and the Arts
Courses in this track provide students with an understanding of transnational cultural issues through a number of analytical perspectives and themes, such as race, gender, class, language, religion, food, and entertainment/sport. In these courses, the nation is not the central analytical framework for the investigation of cultural questions. Instead, matters of cultural identity are placed within a regional and even global context. These courses investigate both the cultural connections among peoples across national boundaries as well as the tensions that such contact may engender. Courses in this track may be concerned with the effects of modern media—radio, television, film, and the Internet—upon shaping cultural identity, as well as the impact of artistic expression, such as through literature, painting, drama, and music.
Track II. International Security
Courses in this track are concerned primarily with questions of conflict within and across national borders, and the efforts by state- and non-state actors to minimize threats and forge a peaceful and just world. Broad considerations of the foreign policies of nations fit within this track, as well as those courses that focus upon war, revolution, imperialism and decolonization—in other words, subjects involving the extension of power in the international sphere. The proliferation of nuclear weapons and the threat of global terrorism are central concerns within this track. Security matters may involve both external and internal threats. In an age of globalization, many issues that threaten to derail the stability of any one government—social unrest, mass migration, political turmoil—can quickly become a regional and even global hazard, and thus may fall within this track’s scope.
Track III. Science, Technology, and the Environment
Courses in this track deal with the dramatic influence of science and technology upon modern life, as well as our changing relationship with the natural world. Advances in medicine and genetic research have transformed global health and helped us better understand what it means to be human, while at the same time these advances have provided deep ethical challenges regarding the future of our species. Technological breakthroughs have transformed where and how we live. Courses that trace the development of the modern city as well as the changing contours of our contemporary farming system in a regional or global context fall within this track. Another prominent theme within this track is the development and management of renewable and nonrenewable energy sources. Finally, courses in this track investigate some of the largest threats to our global environmental well-being, including climate change.
Track IV. International Political Economy
Courses in this track deal with questions of international trade, investment, and finance, as well as matters concerning the distribution of resources within countries and across the globe. This track encompasses not only the functioning of markets, but also their intersection with politics—that is, the way in which governments direct their economies and interact with multinational corporations and international organizations. Courses investigating the efforts to coordinate and direct regional and global economic affairs fall within this track, along with efforts by state- and non-state actors to foster development around the world. Courses that investigate the legacy of imperialism around the globe are especially critical in setting the context for the struggles of today’s emerging economies. The debate between globalization’s adherents and its discontents is of central importance to this track.
Courses that populate this list encompass regional, hemispheric, and even global themes, focusing on the last 500 years. The scope of the course need not be world-wide, in other words, to qualify for this list. Courses may approach their subjects from a number of perspectives (political, economic, cultural), but what all these courses have in common is the effort to investigate history through a prism beyond purely that of the nation-state. Tracking the movement of people, goods, money, and ideas over time allows these courses to discover common patterns in peoples across state borders in order to establish large-scale developments and processes.