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Global Studies

About the Global Studies Program

The Global Studies major within the Department of Sociology, Global Studies and Criminal Justice provides students with an understanding of the world around them. The focus of the major is to encourage students to develop an international perspective by integrating history, religion, politics, and sociology with Christian faith perspectives. Coursework in Global Studies will also incorporate foreign language study and internships or study abroad experiences. Significant international issues such as globalization and popular culture, political and religious conflict, and development and human rights will be analyzed.

Why should you choose SAU’s global studies program?

The Global Studies major is an interdisciplinary major that draws from several academic departments. Features which set the global studies major apart from other programs on campus include the foreign language training, the off-campus semester options and the internship opportunities. These requirements, combined with the strong academic course load, will prepare students to be “change agents” on an international level.

Courses, Course Descriptions & Four-Year Plan

The courses for the 45-hour global studies major include such subject areas as intercultural communication, international relations, cultural anthropology, international human rights, and various courses focusing on specific geographic regions of the world. A 27-hour minor is also available.

View the course requirements and layout, course descriptions, a sample four-year plan, as well as learn more about the global studies program at Spring Arbor University in the undergraduate catalog.

Career Opportunities

The Global Studies major is designed to provide students with the experiences, language study, and academic coursework necessary to prepare them for a career in international service. A student with a Global Studies major will be prepared for a career in communication, diplomacy, the Foreign Service, international business (when combined with business coursework), international development, international human rights, missions, and teaching abroad. The Global Studies minor has also been designed to prepare students for rigorous graduate study in the fields of international relations, law, missiology, politics, and sociology. Visit our career development section.

Our Alumni

Chris Conrad, Spring ’14
I graduated from Spring Arbor in May 2014 with a degree in Global Studies, with much of my studies focused on the Middle East and human rights issues. I chose to go straight into graduate school after completing my undergrad experience at SAU, but took Summer 2014 to intern at The Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, MI. There, I worked on projects related to Acton’s PovertyCure series and employed some of the SurveyMonkey skills I learned in Prof. Hawthorne’s classes.

Chris Conrad headshot

In Fall 2014, I began my graduate studies at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, pursuing a Master’s in International Relations with a focus on Peace, Conflict and Security studies. The program lasted about a year and a half – during the program, I loved getting to interact with students from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds, but who were all interested in similar international issues. I also worked as a research assistant for the Black Spots Project: Mapping Global Insecurity, which is studying and mapping global crime and terrorism networks. I also had the opportunity to visit Iceland for a class on Crisis and Disaster Management (one of the professors we met is now the Prime Minister of Iceland – for real).

Currently, I work at International Justice Mission (IJM), a faith-based, human rights nonprofit with casework related to anti-human trafficking efforts and protecting children around the world. I started at IJM as an intern on the Contingency Operations team, learning about NGO safety and security and putting to use many of the things I learned at Syracuse U. Immediately after the internship, I transitioned into my current role on the security team, which has been centered on the creation of IJM’s new Operations Center, used for monitoring global events, keeping up with IJM’s field offices, and leading crisis response.

Clarissa Grimes, Spring ’14
Four months after I walked across the stage at graduation, I boarded a plane headed to South Asia, where I spent ten months working with International Justice Mission (IJM). IJM is a non-profit organization that collaborates with local law enforcement all over the world to rescue the poor from violent injustice. The office where I was located concentrated on the fight against sex trafficking. I worked in the office as an administrative intern, supporting my team as they rescued girls from their traffickers, helped restore the survivors through aftercare programs, and prosecuted the traffickers.

Clarissa Grimes headshot

I loved working with IJM. It allowed me to gain professional experience while participating in some of the most meaningful work possible. I also relished watching my worldview and perspectives evolve as I was shaped by all the tastes, sounds, frustrations and joys that accompany life outside of my own culture. The best part of my time with IJM was the new friends who welcomed me and shared their lives with me, even though I was only there for a brief time. My time with IJM encouraged me to continue on my track toward law school, so I could contribute to the fight for justice in a more direct way.

Currently, I am attending Michigan State University College of Law, where I expect to graduate with my J.D. in 2018. I want to use my degree to advocate for people who have been marginalized by society, as well as fight for legislation that respects the rights of all people, including immigrants, refugees, and victims of human trafficking. I have already been able to put my new legal skills to use by representing trafficking survivors at the University of Michigan Human Trafficking Legal Clinic. I am looking forward to learning more about immigration and refugee law, and using my skills to serve Jesus by following his command to “love those who are foreigners.” (Deut. 10:19)

Stephen Husk, Spring ’15

After a year of indecisiveness about my major, I landed on Global Studies and eventually added concentrations in International Business and Chinese Language/Culture. May 2015 brought a lot of changes. I graduated from SAU, got married, moved to Grand Haven,  Mich., and began my new job as an executive assistant for a company called MB Division.

Stephen Husk headshot

MB Division is a privately owned import company with a WOFE (Wholly Owned Foreign Entity) based in China’s Guang Dong province. We specialize in providing our customers the benefits of sourcing product internationally without the headaches. This means we handle the purchasing, assembly, packaging, logistics, quality control, and warehousing of the product. My role is pretty ambiguous. Technically I am in management training. This means I am responsible for learning all aspects of the company from shipping/receiving to accounting. In time I will take on more specific responsibilities based on my strengths.

My Global Studies degree has not only helped me find this job, it has also helped me be more successful in it. I currently travel about 4 times a year to our facility in China. I have had some incredible opportunities to participate in meaningful work there. Some of these opportunities include conducting one-on-one interviews with each member of our Chinese team, developing new resources to help manage the flow of production, coordinating events, and advocating on behalf of employees who struggle to voice their concerns with management.

I can see myself going in several different directions in the future, such as a career in logistics, sourcing, or business analytics. Regardless of what I do or where I go, I know Christ can minister to me and through me. When our hearts are surrendered to Jesus, we can truly experience peace; something most of the world is seeking in other ways but cannot find. This peace empowers us in our careers in really cool ways.  I know if I keep my eyes focused on the prize (Christ) it will empower me in the years to come.

On-Campus Opportunities

Spring Arbor University offers a wide range of activities and opportunities for students to get involved and apply what they’re learning in the classroom to real-world contexts. Here are some opportunities that may interest theology students:

Interfaith Shelter Ministries: Interfaith Shelter is a homeless shelter located in downtown Jackson. Spring Arbor students spend one day a week serving food and visiting with the people of the shelter. They also lead small group fellowships and organize an annual food and clothing drive. For information about volunteering at Interfaith Shelter, please call 517.789.8735.

Spring Break Mission trips: During Spring Break, handful of  mission teams gear up and hit the road to minister to and serve people around the country and abroad. For information, contact Steve Newton at

Model Arab League (event): Model Arab League is an event sponsored through the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations in which students learn about the politics and history of the Arab world as they study a particular Arab nation and then prepare to “represent” that nation at a mock Arab League summit. Every year, SAU sends a team to the Model Arab League convention held at a participating Michigan university. Learn more about the political economy major.

Multicultural and Intercultural Student Organizations: Students of any color or background are celebrated and supported on Spring Arbor University’s campus. With over ten organizations dedicated to fostering a dialogue between various ethnicities and promoting multiculturalism on SAU’s campus, there is something for everyone. Visit the intercultural relations website.