IS students smiling on Service Day

International Studies

International relations and the politics that provoke violence


Today, what happens globally can affect us locally: An international conflict that we may have once considered as happening on "the other side of the world" more often than not has implications in our own country. Understanding conflicts past and present, by studying the political, economic and social questions around them, helps us better gauge the impacts of international events and what they mean to us and to society.

International Studies (IS) explores the relationships between nations and political groups, with a focus on how power defines international relationships. Through film, literature, political policy and theoretical analysis, students explore conflict and political violence, the psychology that supports the uses of violence and terrorism, and the psychodynamics and ethical patterns behind genocide and mass murder. They also examine post-conflict approaches used to achieve peace and international cooperation.

Students consider questions such as:

  • What are the group psychological factors that push nations to commit genocide?
  • When are international interventions justified?
  • How can countries heal after war and genocide?

IS offers an engaging and immersive opportunity for students to learn about important global issues with others from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. All majors are welcome. Discussions are relevant to anyone interested in global justice, human rights, human dignity and equality.

Colloquium and Lecture Topics

  • Impact of war on moral boundaries
  • Role of violence in destroying communities
  • Religious, ideological and state-supported terrorism
  • Mass murder and the ‘ethical’ values standing behind genocidal practices

In other classes [our discussions] never dive as deep as we do in IS. We talk about morality, genocides, conflict, peace... I look forward to the discussions each week because I get to learn something new about a topic.

Wordda Aberra
Wordda Aberra '23

Other Learning Opportunities

IS grounds its exploration of historical and contemporary global relations with a film series (and supplemental small-group discussions) during the program's first semester. The IS experience is further shaped by interaction with global scholars from on and off campus, with activities as:

  • Visits to embassies in Washington, DC, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the State Department and international organizations;
  • Opportunities to participate in events such as the Washington Model of the Organization of American States (or Model OAS) and Harvard Model United Nations;
  • Virtual visits to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, and the U.S. Institute for Peace; and
  • Expert briefings and panel sessions on an array of topics, such as post-genocide Cambodia, international religious freedom and post–9/11 perspectives.

Students will further be able to work on simulations on key topic areas with the university's International Communication & Negotiation Simulations Project (ICONS).

Curriculum Overview

Over the two-year program experience (four semesters), students will take a colloquium, practicum and select additional courses. Note that these Scholars courses are generally in addition to any courses students take to satisfy major requirements.

The following table represents a typical two-year curriculum, but individual schedules may vary. Details about courses and requirements can be found on the International Studies Citation Checklist.

Freshman Fall Scholars Colloquium 1 credit
Academic Writing 3 credits
3–4 courses toward degree and major requirements 9–12 credits
Freshman Spring Scholars Colloquium 1 credit
Introduction to Political Ethics 3 credits
3–4 courses toward degree and major requirements 9–12 credits
Sophomore Fall International Ethics, Conflict and Immigration 3 credits
3–4 courses toward degree and major requirements 9–12 credits
Sophomore Spring Scholars Practicum 3 credits
4–5 courses toward degree and major requirements 12–15 credits

Residence Hall

Cumberland Hall

Office Address

1119 Cumberland Hall

Office Phone



Portrait of Stacy J. Kosko

Stacy J. Kosko

Program Director, International Studies
Portrait of Sarah Kilmer

Sarah Kilmer

Assistant Director, International Studies
Portrait of John Derks

John Derks

Graduate Assistant, International Studies

International Studies News

Showing 13 - 14 of 14
  • How International Studies Helped This Alumni Lawyer 'Discover the World'

    When Valerie Redmond was studying government and politics at the University of Maryland, law school was always in the back of her mind. An alumna of the International Studies Scholars program, Redmond now works for Price Waterhouse Cooper in New York focusing on consumer compliance.

  • Scholars Recognized at 2017 University Awards

    Scholars students took home several top awards at the 36th University Student Leadership Awards on Sunday, May 7. University Awards recognized Maryland Medallion Society members and Byrd/Elkins Finalists who have contributed significantly to the general advancement of this university’s interests and displayed outstanding involvement and leadership in campus activities. These students are the university’s top 20 senior students; two Scholars alumni were recognized by the Maryland Medallion Society:

Showing 13 - 14 of 14
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