The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) international studies program hosted the third edition of International Studies Day on Friday, April 26 in the Morris University Center Meridian Ballroom. The annual event engages the campus community in international affairs and promotes global career opportunities.
“We hope attendees gained new information concerning the realities and complexities of this world, and a hunger to find out more on their own or through SIUE’s growing international studies program,” said Program Director and Associate Professor Sorin Nastasia, PhD. “Our goal is to give prospective and current students a sense of what they can become by pursuing a career in international settings.”
The third annual event featured a keynote address from Scott Rauland, a senior advisor at the U.S. Department of State and member of the Senior Foreign Service, and panel discussions highlighting businesses and nonprofits with international focus in the region.
International studies alumni also returned to campus to host a panel on lessons they’ve learned in their careers and what they wish they had known while in college.
“International studies are enormously valuable in our society, as globalization is inevitable. It is important that we optimize it, and celebrate its diversity in voices and opinion. Still, there are things that we need to protect, information that must be safeguarded,” said CAS Dean Greg Budzban, PhD, as an introduction to Rauland who spoke on the topic of Russian disinformation with an address entitled “From Soviet Propaganda to the Firehose of Russian Falsehood.”
“How Russia portrays its actions and those of other global actors can have a major impact on our ability to achieve our foreign policy goals, both alone and together with our various allies and partners,” Rauland noted. “The threat of Russian disinformation that we’re presented with today is markedly different from what we faced with Soviet propaganda during the Cold War.”
Rauland detailed the history of Russian propaganda, including how it’s changed, the challenges it’s posed and how to compete with inaccurate messages. He emphasized media literacy as key when engaging in political discourse and deciphering what has been labeled as “fake news.”
“Media literacy is incredibly important. It is really going to be your generation that has to lead the way and make sure that you’re dealing with misinformation, and that you find ways to teach younger students how to talk about it,” Rauland told students in attendance. “You have to be able to engage in political discourse without insulting people. I encourage you to ask ‘What is your source?’ If you’re going to make a claim, confirm there is a true, legitimate source that backs up your claim.”
Students in attendance emphasized how International Studies Day presented a unique opportunity to learn from an array of international experts and network with them on campus.
“I found the keynote intriguing, as it cemented how politics can change cultures, which is something I’m especially interested in,” said freshman Elizabeth Semande, a geography and anthropology double major who is considering also adding international studies. “These experts are great resources to ask questions. They’ve helped us explore international studies.”
“I plan to attend all day, as the information being shared is helpful for my future career,” noted Manikomevwe Udjoh, a geography graduate student. “I’m interested in international development.”
“It’s nice that people from different points in their professional and academic careers are coming together, conveniently on campus, to share their stories and learn from each other,” added freshman Carissa Christensen, who is triple majoring in international studies, political science and Spanish. “I have learned about international diplomacy and affairs, and hope to someday work in department, state or homeland security.”
International Studies Day was supported in part by the College of Arts and Sciences’ Targeted Funding Initiative. The program, which launched in 2015, utilizes funding acquired through the College’s Winter Session courses and is supplemented with other internal CAS funds. To date, it has provided more than $700,000 to faculty and staff.
For more information on SIUE’s international studies program, visit siue.edu/artsandsciences/internationalstudies/.
Photos: Scott Rauland, a senior advisor at the U.S. Department of State and member of the Senior Foreign Service, was the keynote speaker at the third edition of International Studies Day.
SIUE international studies program director introduces a panel of experts during International Studies Day.
Han Ko, president, founder and CEO of USAKO Group stands at the podium during a panel discussion highlighting businesses with an international focus in the region.