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Global, Cultural and Language Studies

Department of Global, Cultural and Language Studies

The Department of Global, Cultural and Language Studies strives to advance the understanding of cultural processes that shape and transform social, economic, political, and personal identities in an increasingly interconnected world. The program uniquely fulfills the College's commitment to "responsible living and meaningful work" through the pursuit of critical thinking and self-knowledge, exposure to a variety of cultural and disciplinary perspectives, and in particular through a passion for social justice.

Students majoring in Global, Cultural and Language Studies examine topics related to culture, power, place, identity, globalization, development, and international issues. Through this coursework students practice and master transcultural and translinguistic skills as well as theoretical and analytical tools which they then apply through experiential learning in the form of an internship and off-campus experiences. The goal is ultimately to direct student engagement with concerns of equality and social justice in both their local communities and the wider world.

Central to the orientation of the department is the idea that language and culture are interconnected, not independent of one another. As such, their study requires an intentionally interdisciplinary and participatory approach that deliberately integrates the study of language, literature, history, politics, anthropology, and the arts to develop a multifaceted understanding of intercultural relations.

The faculty's expertise in languages, literature, and the arts provides a distinctive approach to global studies by placing such symbolic systems at the heart of learning, allowing students a nuanced investigation of individuals' and groups' worldview and ways of knowing. Both substantive and transformative, this approach equips students with the knowledge and tools necessary to analyze culture through a broad institutional perspective and a more intimate field experience reaching toward intercultural competence and global literacy.

Chair: Martin Pflug, Ph.D.

Departmental outcomes

In the Department of Global, Cultural and Language Studies students will:

  • Understand language as integral to intercultural competence;
  • Achieve world language fluency at the intermediate-mid level following ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) Proficiency Guidelines;
  • Articulate the role of culture in shaping perception, behavior, attitudes and beliefs;
  • Analyze the issues and problems posed by living and working in an increasingly interconnected global community;
  • Apply interdisciplinary approaches to formulate creative solutions to contemporary global challenges;
  • Evaluate how the integrated knowledge of another language and culture informs actions leading to social justice and peace


Understanding dynamic geopolitical issues, building relationships and understanding across cultures, and leveraging systems thinking are all part of the work I do now at a large nonprofit health care system seeking to improve community health and well-being. I'm grateful for the courses, faculty, and opportunities that helped prepare and equip me to navigate our increasingly complex communities and to work collaboratively to engage grassroots leadership and systems change toward health and economic equity.
-Diane Tran (2006)
Director of Neighborhood Integration with HealthEast, St. Paul, MN
Board Member, MN Humanities Center, Citizens League, and CSS Board of Trustees

My experiences [at St. Scholastica] inspired my need to enter a life in service to others-specifically in government. When I graduated with my GCL degree, I knew I wanted to be a change agent to better lives in my community, or in communities in the world that need it most. I feel lucky that I've been able to do just that with the education and experiences I received at CSS.
-Clara Gabriel Haycraft (2007)
Deputy State Director for Administration
Office of Senator Amy Klobuchar, Minneapolis, MN

I can personally attest to the fundamental importance of language training for both employment and academic opportunities. My faculty mentor in Global, Cultural and Language Studies really pushed me in Spanish (and Portuguese) and helped facilitate my study abroad experience in Ecuador. Exposure to a new language and time abroad really opened my eyes. It drove me to continually ask new questions of social development that led me to a PhD, after a couple of years of consulting for UN agencies on development policy. [...] It is really astounding how much of a mark the department, faculty and coursework made on me both personally and professionally.
-Ryan Nehring (2008)
Ph.D. Candidate, Development Sociology, Cornell University, NY
Dissertation on agriculture and rural development in Brazil

I am currently working as an emergency medicine physician assistant in a very busy emergency department in the Bronx. [...] A large percentage of our patients are Spanish speaking and immigrants from Spanish speaking countries. My GCL major made me a more culturally-competent and caring provider, and has afforded me opportunities to connect with patients in their native language. In short, GCL not only brings the world to Scholastica students, it brings Scholastica students to the world.
-Brendan McColgan (2011)
Physician's Assistant, Emergency Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, The Bronx, NY
Master of Public Health, Oregon Health Sciences University

Today, I am pursuing a career in the nonprofit sector where I get to work toward tackling extreme poverty and use the skills I learned at CSS every day. [...] Later this year, I will start my graduate degree in Public Policy where I will proudly represent Benedictine values and use the tools I learned as a GCL major to design effective public policies to take part in solving humanity's biggest problems and improve the quality of life for people in Peru and abroad.
-Pamela Hartley-Pinto (2014)
Political Impact Coordinator, Un Techo para mi País, Lima, Peru

A major or minor in GCL serves as an inclusive complement to other areas of study and...

1. Creates positive attitudes toward cultural diversity and inclusivity, and reduces prejudice
2. Improves analytical skills
3. Increases creativity
4. Adds value to your skill set in the global marketplace
5. Helps gain profound understanding of one's own culture by exploring another culture
6. Makes international travel easier and more pleasant
7. Improves skills and grades in math, English and on the SAT and GRE
8. Enhances listening skills and memory
9. Encourages respect for other peoples and fosters an understanding of language's interrelation with human nature
10. Improves the knowledge of one's own language: boosts English vocabulary skills
11. Increases skills like problem-solving and dealing with abstract concepts
12. Enhances opportunities in government, the military, business, technology, medicine, and law
13. Provides a competitive edge in career choices when one can communicate in a second language: 4 out of 5 new jobs in the US are created as a result of world trade
14. Offers a sense of the past and future, both culturally and linguistically
15. Expands one's view of the world, liberalizes one's experiences, and makes one more flexible and tolerant
16. Removes the barriers between people that cause distrust and fear
17. Prepares for changes in American society as immigration increases
18. Opens doors to art, music, dance, fashion, cuisine, film, philosophy, and science
19. Promotes more effective and responsible participation in a multicultural world
20. Forms the foundation of a liberal education: to "educate" is to lead out of confinement, narrowness and darkness
21. Your marketable skills in the global economy are improved if you master another language.
22. One is at a distinct advantage in the global market if one is as bilingual as possible.
23. College graduates often cite world language and culture courses as some of their most valuable courses because of the communication skills developed in the process.
24. Study abroad / Experiential / Service learning is a requirement!

GCL Major Requirement Summary:
Total Minimum Credits Required for GCL Major: 44

Language and Culture Study - Up to 8 credits depending upon initial proficiency level with a minimum GPA of 2.75

GCL 1101: Introduction to Global, Cultural and Language Studies, 4 cr.
(Conceptions: VCSS - Social Science)

GCL 2101: Migration, Diaspora, Identity OR HIS/POL 2001: Introduction to Political Science, 4 cr. (Conceptions: VCSS - Social Science)

GCL 3101: Advanced Social and Cultural Theory (4 cr.)

Two of these four: (8 cr.)
o GCL 2201: Peaceful Resolution of Conflict (Conceptions: VCOP - Open)
o GCL 3301: Human Rights (Integrations: VISS - Social Science)
o GCL 3001: Politics of Globalization (Integrations: VISS - Social Science)
o GCL 4402: Environmental Politics

One of these four: (4 cr.)
o GCL 3302: Europe Today (Integrations: VISS - Social Science)
o GCL 3303: The Other Americas (Integrations: VISS - Social Science)
o GCL 3305: Contemporary Africa (Integrations: VISS - Social Science)
o GCL 2305: Deaf Culture in the World (Conceptions: VCSS - Social Science)

Cultural Elective (4 cr.)
o GCL 2280 Literature in Translation (Conceptions: VCLI - Literature)
o GCL/HHU 3401 Health Care across Cultures (Integrations: VISS - Social Science)
o GCL 3202 Culture through Film
o GCL 2220 Dance, Gender, and Culture
o GCL 3200 Popular Music and Political Movements
o GCL/HUM Cross-Cultural Understanding
o GCL 3304/HIS 3301 Modern Russian History (Integrations: VIHI - History)
o GCL 3250 Voices of the Earth
o GCL 2231 Cultural Anthropology (Conceptions: VCSS - Social Science)
o GCL 2050 Intro to Mexico - Cuernavaca Quest (Conceptions: VCHI - History)
o GCL/PJS 2480 Comm. Non-Profits
o GCL 3915 Tanzanian Experience
o GCL/PJS/SUS 3777 Music as Environmental Activism
o GCL 4411 Strangers in their Own Land
o GCL/MUS 2777 Music of Latin America 2 credits
o HIS 3305 Issues in Modern European History: Holocaust

GCL 4555: Experiential Learning/Study Abroad/Internship (and portfolio) (0 - 6 cr.)

GCL 4101: Senior Seminar (4 cr.)

GCL Minor Summary (20 credits minimum plus 8 credits Language and Culture study)

o GCL 1101: Introduction to Global, Cultural and Language Studies (4 cr.) plus any 16 credits of additional GCL courses for a total of 20 credits of GCL courses.

o Language and Culture Study - In addition, students must complete 8 credits of language and culture study beyond 1112 with a minimum GPA of 2.75

American Sign Language