International seminar seeks diversity

By Jaime Winston, Staff Writer

Students who entered the U before fall 2007 don’t need to fulfill the international general education requirement if they graduate before 2013, but Tori Ballif did it anyway.

“What happens in other countries affects us,” said Ballif, a senior in history. “I think if you ignore that, you are doing yourself a disadvantage no matter what field you’re going into.”

Ballif participated in the International Leadership Academy, a seminar course that fulfills the international requirement. The class matches students with international leaders in the community, brings in guests to speak about international topics and requires students to complete an international project on campus.

Most of the students who were in the course when it first opened last spring were majoring in international studies, said Howard Lehman, a political science professor who teaches the class. Lehman said he wants to bring in more students from other disciplines this year, even if they do not need the general requirement.

“Anyone can be a global leader,” he said. “We want a diverse range of students because there is a diverse range of international issues out there.”

To do this, Lehman and Anjali Hammond, the U’s associate director for international programs and services, will send letters out to deans around campus telling them about the course. They will also speak to the Undergraduate Advisory Council about ways to diversify the class.

“It brings together mentors, speakers and global international issues here in a landlocked state,” said Hammond, who helps administer the course. Hammond developed the idea for the course three years ago at a conference at Texas A&M University, which runs the Academy for Future International Leaders.

However, the U’s academy is different from the one at Texas A&M, Lehman said. Students need to apply for the program at Texas A&M, but the International Leadership Academy at the U will accept the first 24 students who register.

Lehman said they are looking for individuals who are interested in international issues to take this course.

Laura Chukanov, a senior in international studies, started a foreign film club project in the class last year. She said she has been interested in foreign films for a long time and the class gave her the chance to express it. She said she hopes to finish her work on the film club by the end of November

Chukanov also said she has gained more from the class than just the project.

“If you’re not sure what you want to major in, it’s a good networking opportunity,” she said. The class helped her decide that she no longer wants to pursue a career in law.

The course mentor, James Elegante, said he was impressed by the way Chukanov approached her project and the questions she asked him about international legal issues.

“Any student who really wants to function in the world better be able to do stuff across borders,” Elegante said.

Lehman said students will break into groups of three to initiate their projects this spring. The class, which gives elective credit to both honors and international studies students, will receive new texts and begin to focus more on globalization.

The U offers more than 50 international courses, said Amy Li, coordinator for the International Requirement Committee, which meets each semester to approve new courses. The committee approved three new classes this fall, Li said. Study abroad trips that include academic work could also count for the requirement.

However, Lehman said there is no other class at the U like the one he instructs.

“You can get into a position of international authority…even in Utah.”

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