About the School of World Studies at VCU!

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The Virginia Commonwealth University's School of World Studies is a vibrant community of faculty, students, and practicing scholars actively creating synergies that promote innovative, interdisciplinary ideas. We tailor our programs to today's world and the needs of today's students. The School of World Studies provides students with the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary for success in a globalized world.

The Distinctiveness of the School of World Studies (SWS)

The School of World Studies is the intellectual and instructional center of international activities at VCU, and a major contributor to the study of the humanities at the university. The School encompasses disciplines which define what it means to be human - our ability to communicate (world languages), to build communities with distinct cultural practices (anthropology), to understand and interact with people/ideas different from our own (international studies), and to explore our place in the cosmos (religious studies).  While exploring differences among cultures, languages, and belief systems, we also seek to find what we as humans have in common and to examine and celebrate the different contexts in which that humanity is expressed.  One of the ways we accomplish that task is through an in-depth analysis of artifacts and texts, understood broadly, as a means both to compare distinctions and to discover commonalities.  We encourage and enable critical thinking and open discussion, as a means of interacting with ideas, beliefs, and documents.  We provide multiple contexts and perspectives from which to examine cultures and communities—that includes a rich array of study abroad and community engagement opportunities for our students.

In today's world, one of the enablers of cultural exchange is technology. SWS has been a leader in this area, through projects such as the Teletandem exchanges with university classes abroad, innovative film subtitling, and distance education courses in basic language instruction.

In a world where conflict often arises from cultural differences, we can pursue one of two paths: attempt to wall ourselves off from those who are different, or seek to understand the sources of different cultural values.  We choose the latter.  While learning about different belief systems, cultural practices, and ways to communicate, we also seek what we have in common.  We build bridges, not walls.  Part of that effort is a commitment to social justice, as a leitmotif that connects a number of our programs in the effort to create engaged global citizens.