Core Courses

There are two Core ICS Courses (detailed below), which are required for all students in the program.

Students are expected to complete ICS 195—Critical Approaches to Global Issues in the fall or spring term of their first or second year. This course is also a prerequisite for the other core course, ICS 489S—Capstone Seminar in Global Studies. ICS Majors are required to take ICS 489S in their senior year.

The course, limited to 49 students per session, uses interdisciplinary and disciplinary approaches to introduce students to critical transnational studies.

Course Content

  • examines “from below” capitalism and neo-liberal globalization (through culture, politics, economics, and other social forms and outcomes);
  • considers the workings and meanings of such terms as globalism, transnationalism, nation and state;
  • explains and challenges linear and Western-centric thinking about progress, modernity, development and humanitarianism;
  • focuses a historical lens on a range of political discourses, institutions, and projects (nationalist, statist, colonialist, imperialist, anti-colonialist, fundamentalist, and so on) in order to understand them contextually;
  • demonstrates how cultures and identities are dynamically constituted in interaction with historical, material, political, and situational factors;
  • considers how different kinds of inequality and contestation inflect most social formations and dynamics.

In addition to the lead professor, the course includes four to five faculty visitors from different disciplinary and interdisciplinary homes who teach week-long modules on their areas of expertise.

ICS 195 meets M/W/F for 1 hour (rather than 50 minute) sessions. This allows for smaller weekly discussion groups. These discussion groups are led by the instructor or a TA, in a rotating fashion.

Assignments are designed to improve reading, writing, research, analysis, and information-literacy skills.

Students who plan to be ICS majors are expected to complete the course before a study-away semester.

T-Reqs: ICS 195 fulfills the W, CCI, CZ, and SS modes of inquiry.

The seminar uses scholarship, literature and film to revisit in depth key concepts and themes introduced in the ICS gateway course, with an integration and pace appropriate to a senior experience.

Discussion and assignments require individual reflection on classroom, study away, and work experiences. Students will be encouraged to articulate and express their positioning in the world and in relation to the core themes of the major.

Potential Unifying Themes and Topics

  • neo-liberal globalization and its consequences;
  • inequality, power, and social justice;
  • cultural and discursive formations;
  • colonialism and postcolonialism;
  • obstacles to and limits of constituting transnational or global communities in an interconnected world;
  • interactions between identities and institutions on various scales;
  • law, human rights, and memory projects.

The seminar is writing-intensive, with assignments of varying length designed to advance writing, analytical, and library research skills. There is a significant individual final research project that requires work in multiple stages of creation, presentation, feedback, and revision. These are presented each semester at a public Colloquium. Seminar research projects of the highest quality will be nominated for the ICS Capstone Research Prize. Winners will receive a book prize, be announced in the Duke Commencement Program, and be recognized at the ICS Diploma Ceremony.

T-Reqs: ICS 489S fulfills the W, R, CCI, CZ, and SS modes of inquiry.

Students who successfully complete the fall term of the ICS distinction/honors thesis sequence are considered to have completed the ICS capstone seminar requirement.