Maria Tzintzarova, assistant professor of political science and international relations, is excited about St. Catherine University’s women and international development major. “It’s such a perfect match for St. Kate’s and our students,” she declares.
The brainchild of Professor of Economics Deep Shika and Associate Professor of Women’s Studies Sharon Doherty, the two-year-old major will produce graduates interested in the economic development of disadvantaged nations. The curriculum focuses especially on women’s needs in those societies.
“The world keeps getting smaller, and we need to educate women leaders who can step forward and help erase the inequities that exist among different elements of society,” says Tzintzarova, who came to St. Catherine in 2008 from St. Lawrence University, New York, and is now advising the students majoring in women and international development.
“Our graduates will be able to do that.”
THIS MAJOR REALLY CONNECTS with the founding principles of St. Catherine University. Our graduates’ work will be focused on supporting the well-being of marginalized individuals and communities around the world, on advocating for women and their families. Our alumnae will work for international organizations that strive to create a world in which all can thrive, where every citizen can live in an environment that is clean enough to grow crops and raise healthy and educated children.
At St. Kate’s, we focus much of our education on combating social injustice. This major fits within that framework. Our focus is to help create stronger opportunities and more equitable societies where women can thrive by having access to healthcare, education and employment.
Though it is not a requirement, we encourage the students who pursue this major to study abroad. And we want their study abroad programs to include either an internship or in-depth community work so they can get direct experience in the field. I hope that one day this major will attract a significant number of students — especially since St. Kate’s has been actively working to internationalize its curriculum.
The coursework is varied and interdisciplinary, meaning the major is made up of courses that already exist in St. Kate’s curriculum from a variety of departments: “Qualitative Methods in Social Research” from sociology, “Statistical Analysis” from mathematics, and “Race, Class, Gender and the Environment” from biology.
The interdisciplinary nature of this major will help our graduates prepare for employment in many fields. They can work for the government. They can work for the Foreign Service or become diplomats. They can work in humanitarian relief organizations or work for governmental entities or bodies whose policies and practices affect economic development. They could work for the U.S. Department of State or the federal departments of agriculture or commerce; the list goes on and on.
Students could also choose to focus on healthcare. After graduation, they could go on to graduate study in public health. Or they could work for organizations focusing on women’s and children’s education or targeting economic development through micro loans.
Lately, a lot of international organizations have been placing a greater emphasis on the role of women in the world economy. This major is at the center of that shift.
I’m delighted to be involved in these early stages of the women and international development major. And I can feel the excitement building when I talk to students. We are going to educate future leaders in international development — women who will devote their professional lives to making the world better for all. This should make us all proud.