International & Intercultural Studies (IIS)

Our Mission

The mission of International and Intercultural Studies is to provide an interdisciplinary course of study that will help students to understand multiple perspectives on power relations in the social, economic, political, scientific, and cultural arenas. The coursework balances in-depth learning in local cultures with general issues of relations between cultures and nations.

IIS students are trained in perceiving the socially constructed character of knowledge, including different cultural and disciplinary knowledges. IIS students will acquire analytical skills to understand that widely accepted claims to neutral universal truths and to objectivity actually derive from local knowledge systems.

Moreover, they come to see how cultures and nations are defined within the context of issues of ethnocentrism, cultural appropriation, genocide, national and cultural imperialism, and homogenization and other developments due to a contested history of development and globalization. They come to see how cultures and nations are not fixed but derive from migration and transformation across heterogeneous and diverse social networks involving dominant and non-dominant groups. Students approach these topics through linking cultures and nations to history, institutions, economics, philosophies, world views, and ideologies, and the structural politics of domination at the global, regional, national, and local levels.

The methods and requirements for the students combine interdisciplinary course work with disciplinary classroom study, experiential learning at an external studies site and through community based involvement, linguistic training, in-depth regional or global study, and advanced coursework using interdisciplinary methods and epistemologies, such as postcolonial studies, political ecology, political economy, cultural studies, feminist studies, ethnic studies, diaspora studies, and environmental studies.

As an outcome of study in IIS, students develop skills at respecting different cultures, at engaging with issues of social and political movements, and at interacting with and negotiating between cultures and nations in ways that recognize the complex ethics and politics of construing meaning and building social relationships across differences.

IIS in the Pitzer Course Catalog