During an undergraduate semester abroad in Cameroon, Sarah Miller Frazer spent time in the classroom but also traveled around the country to explore issues firsthand.
“Academically it was very rewarding and rigorous, but the parts I enjoyed even more were the experiential components,” Frazer said. “Visiting the U.S. Embassy and meeting with the ambassador, going to the World Bank, getting out to small villages and seeing people striving to meet their own needs — I loved having that on-the-ground experience and getting outside the classroom to see what was happening.”
When it came time to apply to graduate schools, Frazer sought a program with a heavy emphasis on field experiences and interdisciplinary research. She enthusiastically chose the new master’s program in global studies in the College of Arts and Sciences.
The two-year program, which launched last fall, aims to prepare students with the knowledge and conceptual skills needed for careers in international work.
In their second year, students are strongly encouraged to study abroad, conduct field research or do an internship to supplement their coursework and to complete a capstone policy brief or research paper in their final semester.
“The addition of the master’s program has brought a new intellectual and professional energy to the existing curriculum in global studies,” said Erica Johnson, lecturer and director of graduate studies.
The inaugural class consists of 10 students. Here are profiles of three. They discuss why they chose UNC, the most surprising insight they’ve gained in a global studies class, their postgraduation dream jobs and more.
Sarah Miller Frazer
Frazer said her time in Cameroon furthered her interest in international development and global issues. “My biggest takeaway is that people who are living in poverty still have the right to live with dignity,” she said. “Community-led development — where communities are able to meet their own needs with the support of outside resources and advice — is the best way for changes to be made.”
Hometown: Centennial, Colo.
Undergraduate institution and major: Pomona College, Class of 2009 — double major in French literature and international politics.
Between college and graduate school: “I taught elementary school English for a year in the small village of Gourdon, France. After that, I spent four years in Chapel Hill as the program director for Nourish International, an international development nonprofit.”
Area of research focus: Economic development, specifically the way that social enterprise can support community development in West Africa.
Why UNC’s master’s in global studies program: “I was really excited by the emphasis on practical skills in addition to scholarly rigor. I felt that combination would prepare me best for a future career.”
Most surprising insight gained in a global studies class: “The way that every global challenge we face as a global society is so interconnected: Politics and economics are all influenced by people, the relations between countries, the environment, as well as social norms and culture.”
Dream job: “It changes frequently! Today my dream job is to be an international development consultant who would partner with communities to build their capacity for addressing their own challenges.”
Having moved to South Carolina from Uruguay at age 12, Malki is acutely aware of globalization and transnationalism. “I have a very interdisciplinary academic background and have experienced living in two very different parts of the world, so the field of global studies is a perfect fit for me,” she said.
Hometown: Paysandú, Uruguay.
Undergraduate institution and major: Furman University, Class of 2012 — double major in psychology and Asian studies.
Between college and graduate school: “I coordinated the medical outreach program and public health operations for Central America and the Caribbean at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine.”
Area of research focus: A global economy concentration with a focus on the Chinese presence in Latin America.
Why UNC’s master’s in global studies program: “I am excited to be part of the first cohort in this emerging discipline. There aren’t many global studies programs in this part of the country. I like the Triangle, an extremely dynamic area as far as research, education, entertainment and diversity. I also was attracted to the flexibility in both the professional and academic training.”
Most surprising insight gained in a global studies class: “For every subject that we study and for any topic in our class, the complexities and interconnections go beyond the discipline, beyond the subject and the topic we have at hand. There are so many entangled complexities that I have become aware of since I started the program.”
Dream job: “One that will let me combine my knowledge of China and Chinese international policy with work for an organization dedicated to promoting institutional and educational partnerships between China and the U.S. across a wide range of fields.”
While he considers himself a Southerner, Nasralla also spent a lot of his childhood visiting family members in Jordan and Palestine. “Being Palestinian has a lot of impact on my relationship to my studies, my research topics and my interest in social justice movements,” he said. “This master’s program will give me skills that will help me in working on issues that are important to my two homes.”
Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
Undergraduate institution and major: UNC-Asheville, Class of 2010 — integrated major of anthropology and music.
Between college and graduate school: “I worked as an artist-in-residence teaching music improvisation in a community organization called The Studio in Amman, Jordan. I was also part of a project called ‘Palestine: the Graphic Novel,’ and worked in public schools and a refugee resettlement for three years doing afterschool programming and case management. Most recently, I did an oral history project in Lebanese refugee camps.”
Area of research focus: Mobility, Arab cities and social movements. “I want to primarily study Westerners who were in Arab cities at the time of the Arab Spring.”
Why UNC’s master’s in global studies program: “I was drawn by this program going a little deeper than a traditional international relations program. I knew that I wanted the rigor of international relations, but I also wanted the flexibility to take different kinds of classes. This program allows me to get the Middle Eastern Studies certificate, a program between UNC and Duke University.”
Most surprising insight gained in a global studies class: “Everyone has the ability to be working and studying what they want. It is a [structured course of study], but every student has the support to pursue their own interests.”
Dream job: “I’m interested in starting community centers mobilizing around rights and healing in post-violence countries or contexts.”
By Michele Lynn
Published in the Spring 2015 issue | Features
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