International Studies Bridging Disciplines Program

STATEMENT OF OBJECTIVE: The International Studies Bridging Disciplines Program (BDP) offers students the opportunity to explore a variety of timely themes in a global context. Recognizing that we live in an era in which international understanding is increasingly crucial, this BDP provides students with international study and experience across a variety of disciplines, including Area Studies, Government, History, Communications, and International Business. Five strands have been developed to focus student interest and provide a historical perspective for some of the most important international issues of our time:
1. Human Rights and Cultures
2. International Conflict
3. International Political and Economic Development
4. International Trade
5. Transnational Security and Terrorism

An interdisciplinary faculty panel guides students in selecting courses and participating in connecting research and internship experiences, which students are encouraged to pursue through study abroad opportunities.

BDP certificates combine courses that fulfill core requirements, electives, and a limited number of courses counting toward students’ majors with unique research and internships. With planning, the BDP should not add time to students’ UT careers. Rather, the BDP certificates are designed to help students choose the courses they already have to take in an integrated way, giving them the opportunity to develop a secondary area of specialization.

Our goal is to have the International Studies BDP approved for recognition on students’ official transcripts. We would like to begin recognizing the International Studies BDP on official transcripts for students who graduate in fall 2009. This change affects pages 21-22 of the 2008-10 Undergraduate Catalog.

NEED (EXPECTED DEMAND): There are currently 110 active students in the International Studies BDP, and we expect 10-15 students to graduate with an International Studies certificate in the 2008-09 academic year. Although we expect that demand for the International Studies certificate will decline once the International Relations and Global Studies major is available for students, we expect that the program will continue to accommodate 50-100 or more active students in any given year.

In order to earn a Certificate in the International Studies Bridging Disciplines Program, students must fulfill the following requirements:

33. At least nineteen credit hours of course work, to be distributed as follows:
a. Foundation Courses: Four credit hours of foundation courses that introduce key concepts and methodologies related to interdisciplinary International Studies. Students choose one course from each of the following categories:
i. Forum Seminar: BDP 101: Going Global: Topics in International Studies; BDP 101: Intro to International Studies; or another course approved by the International Studies faculty committee.
ii. History and Theory Course: HIS 333L: US Foreign Relations Until 1914; HIS 333M: US Foreign Relations, 1914-Present; Gove 360N: Intro to International Relations; GOV 344L: Intro to Comparative Politics; GOV 379S: US Foreign Policy: Past and Present; or another course approved by the International Studies faculty committee.
b. Connecting Experiences: Six to nine credit hours of undergraduate research or internships that connect students’ International Studies BDP to their major field. Connecting Experiences are designed to be individualized based on the student’s interests and goals, and a variety of course numbers offered through the BDPs (BDP 310, 311, 320, 321) and in departments across the University may be used. All students must write a 3-5 page essay reflecting on the experience, in addition to the academic requirements specified by the faculty member supervising the student and assigning a grade. Examples of past Connecting Experiences completed by International Studies students include internships at the Brookings Institute and the US Department of State. Students have completed research Connecting Experiences focusing on China’s involvement and investment in Africa; the Rwandan genocide; and water management in Pakistan.
c. Courses in a Strand: Six to nine credit hours of courses in a strand that allow students to focus their remaining BDP course work. Students may choose from among the following five strands, or they may design an individualized strand with approval from the faculty committee: International Conflict; International Trade; International Political and Economic Development; Transnational Security and Terrorism; and Human Rights and Cultures. The attached curriculum sheet for International Studies lists the currently approved courses for each strand. The faculty committee for International Studies approves new courses that may count toward the certificate each semester, and the committee may also approve student petitions to count unlisted courses on a case-by-case basis.
34. Credit or credit-by-exam for four semesters of the same modern foreign language.
35. A 3-4 page integration essay in which students reflect on what they have learned and accomplished through their BDP experience. These essays will be reviewed by members of the BDP faculty panel.
36. Students must earn a grade of C or above in each of the courses taken to fulfill BDP requirements. All but one of the courses taken to fulfill BDP requirements must be taken on the letter-grade basis.
37. At least half of the required course work in the BDP certificate must be completed in residence at The University of Texas at Austin.
38. Completion of the requirements of a major.

Eugene Gholz (Committee Chair), Associate Professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs
Kit Belgum, Associate Professor, Department of Germanic Studies
H.W. Brands, Professor, Department of History
Janet Ellzey, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Terri Givens, Vice Provost; Associate Professor, Department of Government
Derek Jinks, Assistant Professor, School of Law
Alan Kuperman, Assistant Professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs
Mark Lawrence, Assistant Professor, Department of History
Ami Pedahzur, Associate Professor, Department of Government
Joao Vargas, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology
Michael Evan Webber, Associate Director, Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy
Karin Wilkins, Associate Professor, Department of Radio-Television-Film

The purpose of a student transcript is to serve as a comprehensive record of a student’s academic progress and achievement at the University. Students pursuing BDP certificate programs at UT Austin complete 19 credit hours related to secondary areas of specialization without receiving recognition for this work on their official transcripts. Recognizing the International Studies BDP on students’ official transcripts will represent a more comprehensive picture of these students' academic achievement at UT Austin.

It is in the interests of our students to list BDP certificates on official transcripts, particularly as they apply for jobs and for graduate and professional programs. In most cases, students pursue BDP certificates in order to develop a secondary area of specialization that enhances their major and gives them an additional professional qualification. For example, a student pursuing a certificate in International Studies through the Bridging Disciplines Program might wish to complement a Business or Communication degree with a certificate that demonstrates more specific knowledge related to international relations. By recognizing this program on transcripts, we will help these students convey more effectively the full picture of what they learned and accomplished at UT.

Recognizing BDP certificate programs is also in the interest of the University, not only as a means of supporting students as they apply for jobs and graduate/professional school programs, but also as a means of recruiting new students and advising current students. From a recruitment perspective, the ability to combine a major with a certificate might prove attractive to prospective students, particularly those with interests in areas where UT does not yet offer a major. From an advising perspective, the option of combining a certificate with a major might help persuade students to choose majors more rationally, especially in cases where students have been rejected from their first-choice college or feel compelled to select multiple majors.


Approver: Paul B. Woodruff
Date: December 16, 2008
Title: Dean, School of Undergraduate Studies