Bard Globalization and International Affairs

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Study the world in the heart of the city

Last month, Newsroom introduced readers to Bard College at Simon’s Rock’s Signature Programs. This month, we’ve caught up with junior Maeve Dwyer, who spent last semester in New York City studying at the Bard Globalization and International Affairs (BGIA) program.

BGIA is a highly selective program that’s producing a new generation of leaders in international affairs. The program combines advanced coursework in international affairs with professional experiences at some of the best-known private, public, and nonprofit organizations in New York City. BGIA reserves several spots each semester for Simon’s Rock students.

Before the semester started, one of the program’s three internship advisers contacted Dwyer to develop her résumé and cover letter and to hone in on an organization that would be the best fit for her interests and skills. This kind of personal attention and upfront work lets advisors match student interests with the best opportunity. And it’s why for many students, BGIA is a transformative experience.

“I’ve long been interested in law and gender studies, so I was immediately attracted to Global Justice Center [GJC], which uses innovative legal strategies to advocate for advancing women’s rights,” Dwyer explains.

BGIA’s partner organizations make a commitment to cultivating the talents of interns and providing them with real world work experience. Each student receives a staff mentor at their host organization. Dwyer’s mentor was McKensey Smith, GJC’s director of operations. “McKensey was truly invested in making sure that I was really gaining a new perspective, learning about the field, and enjoying myself.”

Raising awareness for women’s rights

At GJC, Dwyer was charged with raising awareness for women’s rights. She created a blog and managed the organization’s social media presence to build a network of supporters on Facebook and Twitter.

GJC was particularly interested in connecting to other organizations in the nonprofit sphere and Dwyer’s work was instrumental in reaching the organization’s target audience. Through her efforts, GJC quickly developed a sizable following on both Facebook and Twitter. She also drafted social media protocols that have since been put into effect at the organization.

During her time in the one-semester program, Dwyer interned 20 hours a week at GJC and took four classes, including a core seminar on international affairs. “The classes were great, akin to the quality I’d come to expect at Simon’s Rock,” Dwyer says. Many professors are experts drawn from outside academia. Dwyer’s course load included a class about war taught by a retired Navy officer who also teaches at West Point, and another on the United Nations taught by a long-time UN official.

Enrollment in a Signature Program provides a life-changing experience for many students. Dwyer is no exception. She credits BGIA with putting the education she’s received at Simon’s Rock into practice. “Simon’s Rock allows you to theorize and experiment, and BGIA has taken that knowledge and let me see how political institutions put those theories into practice. I definitely will approach classes and my Senior Thesis differently having had this experience, with a broader and more integrated picture of the world.”

This semester, Dwyer is studying at Qingdao University in China, another institution with which Simon’s Rock is fostering a dynamic partnership. In addition to studying Chinese, she’s working on a research project in collaboration with Chris Coggins, professor of geography. “We’re examining the growing environmental movement of China and looking at how Chinese people have adapted that modern political movement to include elements from traditional culture like feng shui.” Dwyer sees her junior year choices, BGIA and Qingdao, almost as prerequisites for fulfilling her concentration in Asian studies and geography, a reflection of the growing international focus of curriculum at Simon’s Rock.