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Grand Valley State University    
2012-2013 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog 
  Aug 18, 2019
2012-2013 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

International Relations - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences  section in this catalog.

Coordinator: Diven. Professor: Goode; Associate Professors: Caillaud, Diven, Giedeman.


Global communications, technological advances, and burgeoning international trade and investment have increased the frequency and complexity of international relations.  As globalization increases, the potential for international cooperation and conflict expands as well.  The international relations program at Grand Valley State University provides students with the opportunity to gain a broad base of knowledge about the history, economics, and politics of interaction among states and non-state actors.  Students in the international relations program examine the sources of tension that create conflict among nations and societies, study globalization and interdependence, and learn about the ways in which transnational movements, international organizations and public diplomacy can promote international cooperation.

International relations is an interdisciplinary program that includes coursework in political science, history, economics, business, geography, and foreign culture.  As part of their studies, students are encouraged to become proficient in a foreign language and to study abroad. The Capstone course in international relations allows students to bring together the threads of knowledge they have gathered in interdisciplinary coursework and gives them a chance to pursue independent research on an international relations topic of their choice.

Career Opportunities 

Career opportunities in the field of international relations have expanded as interaction among nations and peoples has increased.  Many international relations majors pursue careers with multinational corporations in the fields of international marketing, finance, and business.  International careers in the public sector include opportunities in the United Nations, Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the Central Intelligence Agency, among others.  Some graduates of the international relations program pursue careers with international nonprofit and humanitarian organizations.  In addition, there is an increasing demand for professionals with international relations backgrounds in the fields of law, journalism, education, information technology, and research.

Study Abroad (

Students in the international relations program are strongly encouraged to take advantage of opportunities to study abroad.  Grand Valley has institutional partnership agreements with universities in Australia, China, England, France, Ghana, Hungary, India, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Poland, and Turkey.  In addition, students may enroll in many other universities worldwide for academic credit.  Appropriate courses taken abroad can be credited toward the requirements for the major or minor.  Students are encouraged to study the language and culture of a select geographic area as a component of their degree program, and should consider selecting a foreign language area studies minor.  Students are strongly advised to consult with the staff of the Padnos International Center and the international relations program coordinator before enrolling in study abroad programs.

STAIR Program

The international relations program is currently engaged in a three-way student and faculty exchange with the University of Debrecen (Hungary) and the Cracow University of Economics (Poland). The Studies in Trans-Atlantic International Relations (STAIR) program is funded by the U.S., Department of Education and provides generous financial assistance for eligible students. This program began in Fall 2009 and will continue through the Winter 2013.


In addition to classroom work, students participate in a variety of internship opportunities, including working for local, national, and international government, business, and nonprofit organizations. In recent years, students have pursued internships in Lansing, Washington DC, and overseas, including placements at the Voice of America, Peace Corps, International Red Cross, United Nations, and U.S. Embassies abroad.

Students can earn up to six credits in the internship program. The emphasis of the program is on broadening students’ experience and knowledge about international relations through a practical involvement that is firmly founded on and tied to strong academic curricula. GVSU international relations majors have access to GVSU’s Laker Jobs site. To get started, click on the internships link at

IR students also have an opportunity to perform an internship and learn in Washington D.C., through our GV in DC program, a partnership program with The Washington Center. For information on the GV in DC program see:

Professor Polly Diven, the IR program coordinator also serves as internship advisor. She can be reached at

Honors Organization

Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society, was established at the University of Texas in 1920. There are currently 621 chapters of Pi Sigma Alpha around the United States, including the Kappa Phi chapter at Grand Valley State University.

Initiation into Pi Sigma Alpha is a prestigious award for upper division students who have demonstrated consistent excellence in political science and international relations. Initiation into Pi Sigma Alpha also establishes one’s eligibility to participate in Pi Sigma Alpha scholarship and internship grant programs, and to publish research in the Pi Sigma Alpha Undergraduate Journal of Politics. For information about eligibility requirements and campus activities contact Paul J. Cornish, Advisor to the Kappa Phi chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha at (616) 331-3502 or

International House

Located in the Murray Living Center, the International House is a living and learning community for international students, international relations majors, and other related majors including international business, political science and modern languages. Faculty in IR hold office hours in the living center and tutor in related coursework. Foreign language faculty hold regular “language circles” for students to practice conversational French, Spanish, German, and Arabic. A variety of  international programming is offered to enhance the academic curriculum, including guest speakers and films. IR students are encouraged to consider this option for housing on campus.

The following programs are available:

Bachelor of Arts in International Relations 

International Relations Minor