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The School of International Studies (SIS) grew out of the innovative programs in two of University of the Pacific’s three former cluster colleges (Callison and Elbert Covell) and the international majors offered in College of the Pacific.   Established in 1987 with a gift from George and Isabelle Wilson, SIS was also funded by a grant from the Consortium for the Advancement of Private Higher Education.  SIS offers a unique and challenging environment that immerses students in an interdisciplinary approach to international affairs, and provides a community of students and faculty who share a deep intellectual curiosity for global issues.

The undergraduate program combines the study of political science, economics, history, anthropology and geography.   Students develop strong research, critical thinking and analytical skills.  Study abroad and competency in at least one second language are central to the curriculum.  Students benefit from the school’s internationally recognized cross-cultural training program before and after their study abroad experience.  They can take advantage of any number of experiential learning opportunities through local and global internships, and many choose to design their own experiential program.  SIS students have led student teams to study sustainable agriculture in Panama, advised foreign corporations about the legal system  in China,  helped develop the tourism industry in Nepal, and worked with the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service.  The careers SIS graduates pursue range widely, and include positions in non-governmental organizations, business, the government, and academe.

Since 2001 SIS has also offered a  master’s degree in Intercultural Relations (MAIR), in partnership with the Intercultural Communications Institute (ICI),  based in Portland, Oregon.  MAIR is a limited residency program targeted towards adult professionals who wish to earn an advanced credential related to intercultural competence while maintaining employment or other commitments.  Students develop knowledge and skills in the principles of intercultural relations, leadership and managing change across cultures, problem solving in intercultural settings, adult learning in a cultural context, culture in the organization, and research and analysis. Courses and advising are provided by a highly qualified and experienced faculty drawn from the world of intercultural consulting as well as universities across the U.S. and abroad.

In 2007, Pacific launched the Inter-American program. Housed in SIS, it built on the legacy of Elbert Covell College, a college of University of the Pacific from 1963-1985. In that unique program, half of the students came from North American and half from Central and South America, and all classes were conducted in Spanish. In the Fall of 2013, the program was moved to the College of the Pacific and named the Latin American Studies Program. The program is open to students in every school, major and discipline and offers both social and academic opportunities. A minor in U.S. Latino or Latin American Studies is available as well.

Throughout its history, SIS has been a resource for the community in many ways.  In the monthly Tuesday World Forum, Pacific faculty members and prominent guest lecturers from around the world speak on current international issues.    SIS hosts the annual Gerber Lecture, which brings outstanding leaders from around the world to speak on campus.   Past Gerber lecturers include: Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Dr. Gro Brundtland, the first female prime minister of Norway; Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda; and Vicente Fox, president of Mexico from 2000 to 2006.