The global and international studies program at Western Michigan University began in 2003, however, WMU's focus on international education goes as far back as 1958 when the Dean of General Studies appointed an interdisciplinary committee to investigate how students should be introduced to non-western cultures. In 1959, the Institute of Regional Studies (later renamed the Institute of International and Area Studies) was established, developing programming in Slavic, Latin American, African, and Asian studies. Soon after its inception, the institute won a $144,000 grant from the Carnegie Foundation to develop faculty training, library and student programming (Stine, 1980:111).
Through the 1960s, opportunities for both students and faculty to participate in international exchanges expanded. WMU’s investment in internationalizing its curriculum earned it national recognition in 1965, when the Institute of International Education and Readers Digest Foundation awarded it "University of the Year" (Stine, 1980:112).
In the 1990s, Western Michigan University intentionally began to internationalize its faculty. In 1993, President Diether Haenicke implemented a special hiring program that allocated funds to hire tenure-track faculty with international expertise (Kurz, Matt, ed. 1997:5). This diversification not only strengthened the quality of instruction, but expanded opportunities for international partnerships. In 1998, the Board of Trustees established the Diether H. Haenicke Institute for Global Education to facilitate internationalization of the university’s academic environment.
In 2003, Dr. Ron Davis, Director of the Haenicke Institute, launched the global and international studies program. The program was run jointly by the Haenicke Institute and the College of Arts and Sciences until 2014, when it moved to its present home at the College of Arts and Sciences. Its former directors have included Dr. Jon Holtzman, Dr. Olasope (“Sope”) Oyelaran, Dr. Donald McCloud, and Dr. Laura Hastings; with interim directors Dr. Michelle Metro-Roland and Dr. Cathryn Bailey. Each contributed to the program’s growth and development in unique and important ways. Notable changes over the years include the addition of four minors, a language proficiency, a capstone seminar, and the introduction of topics courses to the curriculum.
The global and international studies program is now located in Moore Hall and is led by Dr. Susan Pozo, Department of Economics, with academic advising and office support from Kala Willette. Dr. Thomas Kostrzewa has been teaching for the program since 2008. There are currently about 70 majors and 35 minors enrolled in the program (last updated fall 2019).
Interviews, Kevin Knutson, Howard Dooley, Michelle Metro-Roland, Thomas Kostrzewa, Fall 2015.
Kurz, Matt, ed. 1997. “Across-the-board Excellence Soars to New Heights.” The Westerner Vol.17 (3):3-7.
Stine, Leo. C. 1980. Western: A Twentieth Century University: A Case History of Western Michigan University. Kalamazoo: New Issues Press.