Our series on our majors – our programs, as described by our recent students and alumni – continues with International relationships.
When and why did you choose to major in International Relations?
Soraya Kaiser’24: My majors have remained the same since I applied to Bethel. I mainly wanted to study journalism, but my AP human geography class in high school was super interesting. I loved how everything in this class seemed to be connected, and it inspired me to add my second major in International Relations.
Karina Nelson ’24: IR was a big part of why I chose Bethel, and that hasn’t changed at all!
Rachel Gibbs ’20: No, I started out as a nursing major. Made the decision to drop out of the nursing program and moved into international relations.
International Relations is a multidisciplinary major. Why did you choose RI over majoring in political science, history, business, economics, or another of the individual fields included in the RI major?
Annessa Ihde 24: My decision was based on both personal interest and practicality. My passion for the Spanish language as well as traveling first attracted me to international relations. I stuck to IR rather than political science because I didn’t want to focus solely on American politics. As someone with an interest in many different fields (I also have a minor in writing), I wanted to choose the path that would expose me to a wide variety of courses and disciplines. Since I’m not sure what career I want to pursue, I also wanted to broaden my options through a multidisciplinary major.
Hannah Flanders 25: I have always had a passion for other cultures and different places in the world. My grandparents were missionaries in Japan. Growing up, I understood the importance of Matthew 28:19, and I believe an IR major can help accomplish that.
Karine : In truth Social science student style, I really like to see the overlap between disciplines. In real life, you’ll never be completely isolated – political theory overlaps with business, economics, history… you can’t have one without all the others.
Tell us about a particular strength of the IR major in your experience.
Annesse: A class discussion in Policy of terrorism. Dr Moore linked the tension between two of Jesus’ followers, Simon the Zealot and Matthew (who worked as a Roman tax collector), to the growing political tension within Christianity today. This moment reminds me that engagement in modern political and international issues as a disciple of Christ must be rooted in the way Jesus approached and loved people. We shouldn’t avoid difficult conversations or retreat to spaces where we’re only surrounded by like-minded people. As Dr Moore shared with us, Jesus brought Simon the Zealot, who belonged to a radical group that fought against Roman control, and Matthew, who worked for the Roman Empire, together through his message of love. and hope. I appreciate the willingness of HiPPos teachers to address these conversations and push students to engage.
Soraya: Right now, I’m in three classes for my IR major: Modern Middle East, Introduction to IRand The Cold War. These classes fit together so well that sometimes I refer to readings from one class to help illustrate my points in a different class. It’s really fun for me and illustrates the interdisciplinary nature of the IR major.
Hannah: In sports history and politicsour class did a simulation of the US Senate deciding whether or not to boycott the 2022 Olympics. success was fun and exciting.
What is one important way you have grown – intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, etc. – following your specialization in international relations?
Karine : I grew intellectually and professionally through my IR major both with the courses I took and the internships I applied for due to my interest in the IR field. I learned to look at problems from different angles and to apply what I learned in each course both to other courses and subjects and (more importantly) to real life.
Rachel: My study abroad experience has changed me in many ways. It opened my eyes to a new culture, a new way of life and a new experience for which I am eternally grateful.
Soraya: Thanks to my IR courses, I have a lot of context when I learn about current events. It’s extremely useful intellectually just to understand what’s going on, but it’s also allowed me to discuss current events with nuance and empathy.
If you were to talk to a future student considering IR, what advice would you give her?
Annesse: International Relations is a great major to pair with something else. It is more flexible than other majors and introduces you to many different fields (economics, history, political science, etc.).
Karine : If you are interested in politics but also fascinated by other countries and cultures, this is the major for you!
Hannah: Focus on building relationships with faculty. They are great people and they really care about you as a person. They want you to succeed both academically and spiritually.
If you’re an alumnus… what have you learned to appreciate about the international relations major—or perhaps understand better—now that you’re no longer at Bethel?
Rachel: I’ve learned that any degree is valuable, even if you don’t get into it right away. I currently work for a company that raises funds for elementary schools, which has no direct connection to international relations, but it is always advantageous to have a university degree and experience.
To learn more about the International Relations major, Click here or see the catalog page below: