Cultural studies

The innovative career course includes intercultural studies, the importance of humanities

“Career Design for Global Citizenship” Uses Study Abroad Metaphor for Career Exploration

Daniel Youngchul Son, graduate student of the School of City and Regional Planning, chats with Jenny Strakovsky, deputy director of vocational education and graduate programs at the School of Modern Languages, during a session of the course Career Design for Global Citizenship April 17, 2019.

By Michael Pearson

Learning the nuances of workplace culture is a bit like exploring another country, says Jenny Strakovsky, deputy director of career education and graduate programs at the School of Modern Languages.

Each domain has its own vernacular language and tempo. Values, goals and cultures differ from one area to another.

This is why Strakovsky and the School of Modern Languages ​​at the Georgia Institute of Technology are pioneering the use of a “culturally-oriented career design”. Using the study abroad model as a metaphor for career exploration, Strakovsky and Anna Westerstahl Stenport, president and teacher at the school, teach a course called Career Design for Global Citizenship.

The class seeks to inspire undergraduate and graduate students to examine how humanities skills can be at the heart of their careers and to equip them with tools to design “meaningful, rewarding and impactful careers.”

“Real-world scenarios for how to collaborate”

“This innovative course brings together undergraduate and graduate students in fields as diverse as computer science and international affairs, mathematics and town planning and land use planning, and public policy and applied languages ​​and intercultural studies, ”said Stenport. “It provides real-world scenarios on how to collaborate in multidisciplinary and cross-cultural professional environments, while applying project management and communication strategies. “

The class is attracting nationwide attention. Strakovsky presented the work to the Modern Language Association (MLA), among others. The Association of Foreign Languages ​​and English Departments also invited Strakovsky and Stenport to present the work at the AFDL / ADE annual summer seminar for department directors this summer.

The School of Modern Languages ​​professional training programs are part of an effort to change the focus of liberal arts education in the United States.

“It’s an approach to teaching the humanities at the intersection of cultural studies and career education, which are two different fields,” Strakovsky said of the class.

“It’s unique and on the cutting edge of what’s going on in both areas,” said Stenport.

The value of humanities in the workplace

Ryan Gemilere, a sophomore physics student from Saint Louis Park, Minnesota, completed the course in 2018. He is now a research assistant in the career design studio at the School of Modern Languages, working with Strakovsky and Stenport at the intersection of the humanities. and STEM.

“A solid understanding of many subjects within the humanities, especially philosophy and management, is fundamental for a successful physics-based career,” he said.

The course consists of course and project elements. Students learn about the changing world of work and the role of liberal arts skills in working life. They also learn to focus on their own career goals and create long term plans for their lives.

Students are then dispatched to create case studies examining how humanities skills, such as well-developed communication skills and a focus on human-centered problem-solving, are essential in helping solve social challenges. and intractable policies.

Students examined issues such as energy consumption and conservation, the impact of space policy on humanity, how to keep equity issues at the forefront of the debate on sustainability and security of the ‘water.

Different perspectives are crucial

This exploration also helps students learn the value of applying humanities-based skills, especially intercultural studies, to the field of work they wish to pursue.

“In the process of doing science or designing a product, you have to have the ability to design questions and think about the views of others,” Strakovsky said. “Having the ability to think from a different culture’s point of view allows you to access new markets and discover new questions that you might not even realize are questions if you don’t consider them. than from your own cultural point of view. “

Career exploration as a form of cultural studies also helps students overcome widespread unease with the process by which they will get their first job.

“In career education, we talk about networking and the importance of tailoring resumes and writing cover letters in a certain way,” Strakovsky said. “There is a place for it, but students often say they hate it because it seems contrived and manipulative. “

“But when you bring in the cultural studies framework and explain that this is a community and you learn more about it, that you study abroad in that community, it changes their perspective. If you lived in another country and tried to learn the language and culture, of course you would connect with as many people as possible to ask questions and do justice to that community, ”Strakovsky said.

For Gemilere, who wants to work in the space industry after graduating in 2021, the class has proven to be invaluable.

“To do anything other than academic research with a physics degree, I think an understanding of many humanities topics is essential,” he said. “I would even say that the human sciences enrich the research process in which many physicists participate.”

A leader in empowering liberal arts graduates

The School of Modern Languages, a unit of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, is rapidly expanding its reputation as a national leader by enabling liberal arts graduates to pursue successful careers in many sectors.

The new Master of Science in Applied Languages ​​and Intercultural Studies and the Master of Science in Global Media and Cultures, which is offered jointly with the School of Literature, Media, and Communication, were recently mentioned in the New York Times as an example of an innovative program for the future of language study.

Strakovsky and Stenport will then teach the class in Spring 2019. This semester, Strakovsky will also be expanding the class offerings with a master-level version, as part of the new Global Media and Cultures program.

“The humanities, especially cultural studies, teach us how to create meaning from facts, mobilize stories to shape our future, and connect with people very different from us,” Strakovsky said. “These skills are crucial to the types of leadership and innovation roles that Georgia Tech alumni pursue.”