A Message from the Director: New Directions in GPIA Curriculum – Addressing Racism

The current moment is especially ripe for thinking through the implications of systemic racism—though recently great attention has been cast on the United States, this is truly a global affliction that has persisted for eons. As an international affairs program deeply committed to combating all forms of injustice, the faculty and staff of GPIA have been reflecting on what more we can do to address this crucial issue. We understand that this challenge permeates GPIA, that we must confront it at all levels; fostering diversity and inclusion in terms of our curriculum, classroom environments, research, and demographics of students, faculty, and staff. 

One of our recent forays into deepening our commitment on this front was the September 23 event, “Race, Racism, and International Relations,” co-hosted by Professors Sean Jacobs and Sakiko Fukuda-Parr. And on November 9 at 3-5pm, we are holding an event on “Remaking Graduate Education: Decolonizing International Affairs” when GPIA faculty will each speak on their perspectives, research and teaching on this theme. 

In the coming weeks and months GPIA will unveil several new initiatives that similarly speak to the problems of systemic racism. For now, however, we want to direct your attention to two new programmatic elements:

First, starting in Spring 2020, GPIA is excited to offer a new core class, “Decolonizing International Affairs.” We believe all students should be exposed to this timely topic and perspective as it frames a way to see the field of international affairs—understanding this view is necessary to making sense of the world politically as well as professionally. This course will replace “Theories, Histories, and Practices of Development” as a required course (for students who have already taken “Theories, Histories, and Practices of Development,” they will not need take “Decolonizing International Affairs”). This course will be taught by Professor Sean Jacobs. During the advising week in November, prior to registration for Spring 2021 classes, a course description will be circulated.

Second, next semester the Master of Science curriculum will offer a new Subject Module on Race and International Affairs. Like the other Subject Modules, a student would need to take three classes in this area to fulfill the requirement. Examples of classes that would fit with this module are:

  • Post-Colonial and Feminist Theories (GPIA)
  • Theories, Histories and Practices of Development – Decolonizing International Affairs (GPIA)
  • Critical Theories of Race (School for Social Research)
  • Humanization and Dehumanization (School for Social Research
  • Race, Culture, and Classification (School for Social Research)
  • Blackness in Transit (Parsons)
  • Race, Ethnicity and Class in Media (Media Studies)

MS students who wish to pursue this Subject Module should contact Professor Peter Hoffman, chair of the MS program.

As our work continues, we look forward to sharing with you other initiatives that keep our curriculum relevant and promote equity, inclusion, and social justice within GPIA and international affairs.

Yours sincerely,

Sakiko Fukuda-Parr
Professor of International Affairs and Program Director