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The UNC Curriculum in Global Studies has been a leader in the field of Global Studies with its rigorous and robust undergraduate and Master’s programs that train the next generation of leaders and problem-solvers. Recent years have only deepened the need for global perspectives and CGS meets this need. Our notable international faculty are producing groundbreaking research of critical importance on the most pressing topics of our world, including racial and gender justice, human rights, economic inequality, challenges to democracy, war and conflict, nationalism, migration and diaspora, environmental crisis, social movements, and solidarity networks. Global Studies students analyze and address global issues with an understanding of their root causes, long histories, and connections to distant places in their classes, research projects, internships, volunteer opportunities, and work. The perspectives they gain in CGS serve them well in their careers. CGS educates thousands of students each year and fosters global understanding and engagement between the university and the public, communities, and organizations. 

After my inaugural semester as Chair of CGS, I welcome this opportunity to reflect on the past couple of months, share news, and invite your participation in the coming years as we continue to build Global Studies as one of the most vibrant programs of its kind. As a joint faculty of CGS since 2005, Global Studies has provided a uniquely stimulating interdisciplinary academic home for me, an immigrant scholar who grew up in Turkey with training in economics, sociology, and geography and a feminist political geographer with long-standing interests in the uneven effects and power dynamics of global processes, including neoliberal consumption, political Islam, feminism, borders, and migration. I have been inspired by the brilliance, creativity, and dedication of CGS students, faculty, staff, and alumni over the years and am thrilled to work more closely with them in my new role.

Despite the continuing effects of the pandemic, CGS has had a very busy and rewarding spring semester, transitioning from online and hybrid events to in-person classes and programs. We held our 4th annual retreat where Global Studies faculty gathered to generate ideas for developing the Curriculum. We have begun to implement these ideas immediately, starting with launching a new UNC Global Studies Seminar that aims to foster deeper connections, exchange of ideas, and collaboration within our community. The first event of this Seminar took place in April 2022 with a panel about our joint faculty Chad Bryant’s new book, Prague: Belonging in the Modern City (2021, Harvard University Press). In 2022-23, the Global Studies Seminar will include a mix of events for our faculty and students that will continue to explore new pedagogical approaches and decolonial and anti-racist work in Global Studies and include skill-building workshops and readings on new directions for Global Studies. This Seminar will complement the robust programming we have been providing to our undergraduate and graduate students.

At the end of the spring semester, we were delighted to be able to hold our programs in person. We held a luncheon for honors thesis students and their advisors where we learned about their fascinating original research on a range of important topics (e.g. the role of the youth in global climate governance, media depictions of the Korean diaspora in Germany, health care access of human trafficking survivors in the United Kingdom, the efficacy of water sanitation in rural Uganda). We learned about our first year M.A. students’ research projects in a poster session and celebrated our graduating M.A. students’ successful completion of their training and projects on key issues, for example, climate variability, food security, and migration in rural Guatemala, authoritarianism in Singapore, online populism in 2018 Mexican elections, formation of a nation in Abkhazia, and the Special Court of Sierra Leone. Finally, we gathered with our graduating B.A. and M.A. students and their families for a commencement ceremony that included more than 400 people. We are proud to see our graduates take positions in the private, public, and non-profit sectors in consulting, financial management analysis, policy analysis, and project management and continue their education in prestigious graduate programs and law schools. 

As we look ahead to the 2022-23 academic year,  we are excited to welcome new majors and an outstanding cohort of M.A. students. We will build the aforementioned Global Studies Seminar and start a new collaboration with two other globally-focused and interdisciplinary masters programs, the Trans-Atlantic Masters Program and Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Masters Program. As Global Studies, we also plan to resume our UNC Graduate School funded recruitment program and career trek to Washington, D.C. next year.

In this newsletter, you can read about the accomplishments of our faculty, including much-deserved promotions of Erica Johnson and Michal Osterweil to Teaching Professor, Brigitte Seim to Associate Professor, and Renee Alexander Craft, Chad Bryant, Meenu Tewari, and Milada Vachudova to Professor. Michal Osterweil also has been awarded a 2022 University Diversity Award by the Office of the Provost and Renee Alexander Craft has been selected for the 2022 Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. We will be celebrating all of these successes in the fall semester. We have also received the heartbreaking news of the untimely passing of our longtime joint faculty, Mark Driscoll’s partner, anthropologist Diane Nelson. We mourn this huge loss.    

I want to extend special thanks to all the previous chairs, including my predecessor, Arne Kalleberg, and Jonathan Weiler who served as Acting Chair in the fall of 2021; to our teaching and core faculty, Erica Johnson, Michal Osterweil, Carmen Huerto-Bapat, Elizabeth Olson (Geography), Brigitte Seim (Public Policy), and Angela Streusse (Anthropology); to our wonderful staff, L.E. Alexander and Zach Ward (whose efforts include preparing this newsletter); and to more than 21 joint faculty spread across 11 departments at UNC Chapel Hill who contribute to CGS through their teaching, research, and service. I also want to applaud Global Studies students who stand out not only with their superior academic performance but also with their commitment to making a difference in our world. Our students are thriving even in the midst of the pandemic and taking on new initiatives, such as the launch of the Global Gazette in Spring 2022. The success of Global Studies is due to the tireless work and expertise of all of these people. Since January 2022, I have only become more impressed as I learned more about all the great things our CGS community is doing, some of which are featured in the Spring 2022 newsletter. 

I’m passionate about making CGS an intellectual center for critical knowledge and global understanding. I’m interested in fostering knowledge-building among Global Studies faculty, students, alumni, and staff. I look forward to working with everyone as we launch new initiatives to expand our networks, deepen our connections, and engage in collective work. I welcome your ideas and participation in our initiatives and programming. Please join us in supporting global learning with the resources we need to contribute our knowledge to UNC, North Carolina, our nation, and our world.

You can learn more about me and my current projects at https://www.banugokariksel.com/.