Critical Global Studies

(formerly International and Intercultural Studies)

Critical Global Studies invites students through interdisciplinary coursework to explore issues of power, difference, knowledge politics, and social justice concerns. By completing core course work, study abroad and a justice practicum, and language study, Critical Global Studies majors critically examine in depth cultures, indigenous communities, social movements, and nations in ways that challenge modern discourse.

“Critical” refers to various analytical tools and interdisciplinary theories students use to critique Eurocentric and other ethnocentric views, question universalist claims, and work effectively with multiple methodologies, practices, and epistemologies. “Global Studies” addresses global inequalities in multiple areas, such as the environment, public health, poverty, education, women’s issues, class inequality, racism, heteronormativity, indigenous issues, cultural domination, and ongoing colonization in ways that work towards exposing and ending social inequalities and other injustices. Ultimately critical global awareness provides a grounding for productive solutions to these issues, fundamentally transforming oppressive socio-political, cultural, environmental, and economic conditions, and individual and collective emancipation.

Majors in Critical Global Studies either develop a topical or regional specialization. As an outcome of study in Critical Global Studies, students develop skills to recognize the complex ethics and politics of construing meaning and building social relationships across differences. By linking classroom critical training with experiential learning locally in the U.S. and abroad, students will be prepared for careers in social justice movements, education, sustainable development and human development, social work or human welfare, labor organizing, grassroots and community-based or non-profit organizations, solidarity economics, human rights organizations, law, or public service. The Critical Global Studies major also prepares students for graduate study in international studies, law, education, history, cultural studies, cultural practice, public administration, social work, and other fields.

Majors must also complete a Social Justice Practicum course and an Indigenous Studies course, normally before taking GGS 190 PZ -Senior Seminar. The CGS190 PZ -Senior Seminar is required of all majors (except as noted below). A senior thesis or senior project is an option for all students, but required of all honors candidates (see below). Courses for the major should be chosen in consultation with a CGS adviser.

Requirements for the Major:

(Note: all IIS course names have changed from IIS to CGS)

  1. Core Courses: All majors must complete four core courses:  (the) CGS 010 PZ -Introduction to CGS, CGS 050 PZ – Power and Social Change, and CGS 060 PZ -Interdisciplinary Knowledge & Global Justice, and CGS 190 PZ – Senior Seminar. Normally students complete CGS 10, CGS 50 and CGS 60 during their first two years before participating in an approved Study Abroad program, but other possible preparation for Study Abroad is possible in consultation with a CGS adviser.
    • CGS 010 PZ – Introduction to CGS
    • CGS 050 PZ – Power and Social Change
    • CGS 060 PZ – Interdisciplinary Knowledge & Global Justice
    • CGS 190 PZ – Senior Seminar
    • One Social Justice Practicum course chosen in consultation with a CGS adviser. Courses that would satisfy this requirement may be chosen in one of these ways:
      a) One Social Responsibility Praxis or other internship-based course where the student works with a community-based social change organization; OR
      b) One course completed on a Study Abroad program or as a Study Abroad ISP that includes work for a community-based social change organization.
    •  One course in Indigenous Studies, such as:
      – Anth 012 PZ, Native Americans and their Environments Anth 127 SC, Settler Colonialism
      – Anth 160 PZ, Native American Women’s Arts
      – ARHI 137 PZ, Tradition and Translation in Native North American Art GWS 162 PO, Decolonizing Gender/Sex Asian/America
      – Hist 031 PO, Colonial Latin America
      – Hist 146 SC, Zapatistas/Mayan Rebels
      – CGS 85 PZ, (Re)Learning Love of the Land
      – CGS 125 PZ, African Politics
      – CGS 160 PZ, Decolonization from Below
      – Soc 075 PZ, American Settler Colonialism
      – Span 139 SC, Plants, Magic, and Race
      – Span 183 SC, Interculturality and Bilingualism in the Andes
      Other courses may satisfy this requirement when chosen in consultation with a CGS adviser.
  1. Language: To satisfy the language requirement, any of the following methods may be used:
    • Two years of college or university-level classroom language instruction.
    • Proficiency by immersion, normally completed in a Pitzer Study Abroad program or other language-intensive study abroad program approved by thefield group. (See adviser or Office of International Programs for list of approved programs.)
    • Demonstration of competence at the equivalent level of two years of college or university-level classroom instruction by successfully completing an oral or written examination administered by a qualified language instructor.
    1. Study Abroad: Students are expected to participate in a semester-long program of study abroad relevant to their chosen regional emphasis. Students should consult both with the Director of International Programs to choose an appropriate program and with their advisers to select courses that will prepare them for this experience. It is required that students planning to study in a particular study abroad program take CGS 060 PZ and a regional course designed to prepare them for study in that region. The regional course may fulfill one of the regional emphasis courses described below.
    1. Advanced Course Work: Topical or Regional Emphasis. Students will choose either one topic or one particular geographic region for emphasis in their CGS coursework. The topical areas that students may choose include: Indigenous Studies; the Third World/Global South; or Global Studies. Particular geographic regions that students may choose include: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, or the Middle East. Normally, students choose a topical or regional emphasis that is relevant to their Study Abroad location. Three courses are required as a minimum for study of their selected topic or region (except as noted below), normally with one introductory course and two other courses at the advanced level (generally numbered above 100). Students are required to take one appropriate course before the Study Abroad semester, chosen in consultation with their advisor. Students are also required to take CGS 060 PZ as part of their preparation for Study Abroad.


Students with a cumulative and major GPA of 3.5 or higher may be considered for honors in International and Intercultural Studies. Honors candidates must write and successfully defend a senior thesis, generally while enrolled in IIS 199 PZ -Senior Thesis. The determination of honors is based on excellence in course work in the major and the quality of the senior thesis.

Requirements for the Combined Major

Students wishing to complete a combined major in CGS and another major will need to complete all requirements for the regular major, except:

  1. They may take two courses in their topical or regional emphasis area rather than three courses (normally one course will be taken before the Study Abroad experience), and
  2. They may take either an Indigenous Studies course or the Justice Studies Practicum course. (see course lists in ‘Major Requirements’).

The course reduction for combined majors totals two courses.