We would like to welcome Ben Vargas as the new IS Major Peer Advisor! Ben is a third year student pursing a dual major in International Studies and Political Science with certificates in fields of his interest relating to Public Policy and Environmental Sustainability! He will be starting an accelerated Master in International Public Affairs (MIPA) with La Follette in Fall 2021! Ben is currently the Political Director for the College Democrats of UW-Madison, an intern with the WI Treasury office, and will be working for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) through their Pathways Internship programs over this summer 2021.

Feel free to discuss access to further academic and mental health resources, learn about coursework and popular classes, understand more about how the program works, study abroad opportunities, or tips that can help set you apart and start your career! Please keep in mind that to enroll in the IS major you must attend an IS workshop. Peer Advisors do not work over the summer so contact is limited, please reach out to an IS Advisor for any immediate concern.

Feel free to email Ben over the summer at bvargas@wisc.edu for any non related IS major questions

Welcome to our new IS Major Peer Advisor, Katherine Ackley! Katherine is a junior from Manitowoc, Wisconsin majoring in International Studies and Environmental Studies and earning certificates in French and Textiles and Fashion Design. Outside of classes and advising, Katherine serves on the Exec Board of the National Organization for Women, the ASM Sustainability Committee, and the Caroling Club. She is also a member of the Green Fund Review Committee and the Sustainability Advisory Council. You may have also seen her waitressing at Bassett Street Brunch Club! This summer Katherine will be interning with the Office of Sustainability and hopes to study abroad in Rome if it is safe!

Katherine would love to talk with you about course recommendations, questions about the major, study abroad opportunities, job applications, how to get involved on campus or anything else that’s on your mind!  Please keep in mind that to enroll in the IS major you must attend an IS workshop. Peer Advisors do not work over the summer so contact is limited, please reach out to an IS Advisor for any immediate concern.

Feel free to email Katherine over the summer at kgackley@wisc.edu for any non related IS major questions

Ever Wanted To Work For The State Department?
Did you miss our informative talk with the Midwest Diplomat in Residence Ron Packowitz? Watch the recorded session below for details regarding application and acceptance into the foreign service, undergraduate and graduate internship opportunities, as well as tips on passing the FSO and book recommendations for the narrative section of the application! The video below may not load on all platforms, if the link below does not work for you, please contact Molly Donnellan at molly.donnellan@wisc.edu


Biography of Kisa Sow

My name is Kisa Sow and I am a second-year student double majoring in Journalism (with a focus on Strategic Communication) and International Studies (with a focus on Politics and Policy in the Global Economy). In 2012, I moved to the Washington, DC area from Mali, my father’s native country. My time in Mali as well as my experience adapting to American culture inspired me to study International Studies.

In the summer of 2019, I interned as a photojournalist  for a Malian non-governmental organization that works with women’s sexual and reproductive healthcare. Thanks to my course work at UW, I was also able to gain a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of this experience. This experience also allowed me to gain a more realistic and sophisticated perspective on my childhood home while motivating me to pursue journalism.

Throughout my time at the University of Wisconsin, I have involved myself in many ways; I am currently the Communications Intern for the African Studies Program, I am a writer for The Daily Cardinal, and I am the Publications and Newsletter Chair for Alpha Chi Omega.

My academic experience at UW has motivated me to become more interconnected with the world and to dedicate myself to advancing social change. My courses at UW have helped me recognize and understand the political, economic, and social parameters of global issues. In the future, I hope to work with politicians and organizations to deepen and expand their international engagement and perspectives.

See some of Kisa’s published articles in the Daily Cardinal, below:

Wisconsin women to look up to in 2019

Karl Lagerfeld’s controversial legacy

Biography of Margaret (Maggie) Rowe

My name is Margaret (Maggie) Rowe and I am a junior majoring in International Studies. My interest in international relations and global development began in high school when I became the first ever student to graduate from Oshkosh West High School from the Global Scholar Program with a Global Achievement Education Certificate. Through this program I realized my interest in international human rights, equality, and sustainability. From then on, I have strived to be an advocate in my community and a responsible citizen of the world.

My background in global education motivated me to major in International Studies and since the first day I stepped foot on the UW campus, I have been an IS Major. When I began my academic career at UW-Madison, I wanted to focus my efforts on studying human rights, hoping to eventually develop a career in human rights advocacy. My goals have remained constant and my International Studies education has only further inspired me to work towards eradicating international inequalities and to be a voice for those who have been left voiceless.

In spring 2019 I studied abroad for six months in Galway, Ireland at the National University of Ireland-Galway. This experience completely transformed my view of international relations, culture, and global networks. Since then, I have secured a scholarship for summer 2020 to work at the Irish Centre for Human Rights (ICHR). In this position I will be collaborating on research projects and communicating with Irish government entities and nonprofits on comprehensive human rights strategies.

After I graduate, I would like to work for a non-profit in Ireland, focusing my efforts on human rights, environmental degradation, and environmental health. I hope to work as an advocate for international equality and strive to apply all the core concepts my International Studies Major has taught me. I want to thank the Newman Family for their generosity and for this amazing opportunity.

Biography of Savannah Donegan

Savannah Donegan is a triple major in International Studies, Economics, and History with a certificate in Global Health. She is involved in a number of campus advocacy and policy organizations including the Sifting & Winnowing Policy Journal, the Alexander Hamilton Society, the Women in Economics executive board, and as a member of The Women’s Network finance committee. She also enjoys putting her love of the social sciences to work as a Data Analyst Research Intern with the Wisconsin Center for Academic Research and as a Learning Community Programming Assistant with Chadbourne Residential College.

Savannah’s first experience with the International Studies Major was in International Studies 101 with Professor Stephen Young. After realizing how much she enjoyed the course, she enrolled in Professor Young’s Economic Geography course, where she worked with him and a small group of students to draft a research report on the concept of universal basic income. This remains her favorite class to date, as it allowed her to combine her interests in economics and international studies to create a tangible piece of original research. Savannah has also had the opportunity to take several Spanish courses, which have increased her depth and interest in international and regional studies.

In the future, Savannah hopes to participate in the Fall 2020 Wisconsin in Washington internship program, where she will participate in a full-time policy internship while taking intensive International Studies coursework. After completing her undergraduate program, she plans to pursue a Master of International Public Affairs and then work in policy research, international business, or government affairs before pursuing a Ph.D. and professorship in the social sciences. She cannot imagine a life or career without the joy of learning new things, advocating for fellow human beings, and being around exciting people and ideas. She tries to live by her favorite quote: “I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.”

She would like to share her special appreciation for professors, TAs, and advisors – Stephen Young, Lee Palmer Wandel, Rasmus Lentz, Simeon Alder, David Danaher, Gregory Pac, Ben Kasten, Alicia Johanning, Molly Donnellan, and Steven Wong – for their kindness, extra office hours, and encouragement over her college career. She would also like to thank the Newman Family for this generous award.

About Our Program

The International Studies Major is an interdisciplinary program with areas of specialization in Global Security, Politics and Policy in the Global Economy, and Culture in an Age of Globalization. Students select one of these three tracks for specialization.

Each track allows students to become familiar with contemporary academic debates on global issues and to begin to engage in those debates. Globalization has never been more central to the human experience. National security, national and global economies, human rights, natural resources, sustainability, and the global flows of technology and imagery are all part of International Studies curriculum.

Institutional Statement On Diversity

Diversity is a source of strength, creativity, and innovation for UW–Madison. We value the contributions of each person and respect the profound ways their identity, culture, background, experience, status, abilities, and opinion enrich the university community. We commit ourselves to the pursuit of excellence in teaching, research, outreach, and diversity as inextricably linked goals.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison fulfills its public mission by creating a welcoming and inclusive community for people from every background — people who as students, faculty, and staff serve Wisconsin and the world.

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Declare the International Studies Major

There are several ways that you can declare the International Studies Major.  Before declaring the major, you need to attend an Introduction the International Studies Major Workshop and you need to show good progress towards completing the prerequisites for the major.

**Please note that for the remainder of the Summer 2021 semester, students should contact Molly or Csanád to set up a workshop,

**Please note that for Fall 2021 contact Peer Advisor Ben or Katherine to set up a 1:1 workshop.

Eligible students can declare via the online form.


The IS Major has three tracks that students can choose to focus on.

Global Security: Causes and solutions to political crises, violent conflicts, and human rights challenges in interstate, transnational, and domestic settings.

Politics and Policy in the Global Economy: Policy issues pertaining to international commerce and trade, aid and development, and related environmental and natural resource problems.

Culture in the Age of Globalization: Cross-cultural interactions at different levels: local, national, and transnational, and the impact of globalization on cultures.

Program History

The International Studies Major was created in 1936 as the International Relations Major to help prepare students to work for the Foreign Service. Originally the major’s focus was on American foreign policy, but over time grew to encompass various regional tracks. After the end of the Cold War, the program adapted to reflect the changing global and methodological landscape. In 1999, the International Relations Major officially became the International Studies Major and included perspectives of various disciplines outside of Political Science. Today, the International Studies Major incorporates more than 40 different departments to offer a comprehensive view of the contemporary world.

The International Studies Major is focused on undergraduate education in a liberal arts tradition. We value undergraduate teaching and learning; as such graduate students are not permitted in International Studies courses.