Wednesday, January 6, 2010

GSU to offer transatlantic degrees in international economics and modern languages

Georgia State University and the University of Venice were recently awarded $1 million from the U.S. Department of Education and the European Union to offer a transatlantic dual degree program for undergraduates in international economics and modern languages.

The degree program will be administered by Georgia State's College of Arts and Sciences and the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, as well as the University of Venice, Ca' Foscari. The two institutions plan to award dual degrees to program graduates.

Next fall, the first cohort of students will begin the dual degree program that aims to train economists who are "culturally and linguistically fluent," said Richard Keatley, GSU lecturer for modern and classical languages and program co-director.

"Transatlantic degree programs are the wave of the future," Keatley said. "Graduates will have a year of experience in their own field in the European Union. When they'll complete the program, students will have two diplomas, which will allow them to work in the two largest market places in the world."

Six Georgia State students and six students from the University of Venice, Ca' Foscari will be selected to participate each year, for a total of 24 students over the four year course of the grant. Each student will receive a $12,000 stipend to pay for their education and travel expenses.

Undergraduates will spend more than a year abroad learning language and cultural perspectives, including a semester in France at the Université de Versailles, a third, non-degree-granting institution.

Georgia State students interested in the International Economics and Modern Language transatlantic degree program would apply during their sophomore or junior year. Once accepted, students would need to satisfy graduation requirements of the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents and the Italian National Certifying Board, as well as pass language certification exams in Italian and French.

GSU's proposal for the joint degree program was one of 25 selected this year for funding by the federal ATLANTIS program. ATLANTIS is jointly administered by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education and the European Commission's Directorate General for Education and Culture. It provides grants for up to four years to add a European-United States dimension to international curriculum development and related student exchange.

Georgia State began the offering the International Economics and Modern Languages (IEML) degree program in fall 2006. It was designed to provide students with the analytical tools to do economic research, consulting and policy analysis on global issues, along with the language skills needed to work with the United States' major trading partners.

To date, only three language options have been available to IEML majors: French, German, and Spanish. The ATLANTIS grant adds Italian to the existing program and makes it financially easier for students to add a study abroad component to their degree program, said Shelby Frost, GSU associate professor of economics and program co-director.

"In today's world, it is increasingly important for economists to have a worldwide perspective," Frost said. "Globalization is the new reality and people that understand the global economy stand a much greater chance of making better policy decisions to improve our world."

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