Third World Studies

[ courses | faculty ]

131 Literature Building
Warren College
(858) 822-0377

All courses, faculty listings, and curricular and degree requirements described herein are subject to change or deletion without notice. Updates may be found on the Academic Senate website:

The Third World Studies Program has three main objectives:

  1. To provide an understanding of the Third World and its relationships to the West. In order to understand these relationships, it is necessary to study the historical context out of which the present relationships developed. For example, besides trying to understand what kind of society existed in Meso-America when the Spaniards arrived in 1520, the student must also have an understanding of the historical development in Europe that resulted in Spain’s decision to seek wider trade abroad. There is insistence on both the similarities and differences that Third World societies have among themselves and the similarities and differences with Western societies.
  2. To provide an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the Third World. The program is not conceived as being exclusively historically-oriented nor as being predominantly a social science program, but rather one that integrates both the social sciences and the humanities.
  3. To provide an understanding of the shifting economic and political nature of the countries designated as belonging to the “Third World,” especially in light of the dramatic political and economic changes worldwide in the late 1980s and 1990s. To this end, our Third World studies courses will, where appropriate, address and contextualize the history of the term “Third World” and its current applications in scholarship and the broader international media.

The Major Program

Students interested in Third World studies may focus on a theme, problem, or geohistorical area. A Third World studies program of study must be interdisciplinary. Students must choose course offerings from at least three disciplines (anthropology, economics, history, literature, political science, sociology, etc.).

A Third World studies major requires a minimum of twelve upper-division courses plus three lower-division courses from the Third World studies sequence (TWS 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, or 26). Students at Eleanor Roosevelt College may substitute up to two courses, Making of the Modern World 4 and 5, for two of the three-course lower-division sequence, but must take at least one course in the TWS 21–26 sequence. Selection of a specific concentration, discipline, or department should be determined in consultation with a Third World studies faculty member or program adviser.

Students majoring and minoring in Third World studies are encouraged to experience their areas first-hand by studying abroad in any number of ways. Most convenient, depending on the area, is the University of California’s Education Abroad Program, whereby students can gain UC credit for study at foreign universities. This is especially convenient for students who cannot find sufficient courses at UC San Diego pertaining to such regions as the Caribbean and the Indian subcontinent. Moreover, Latin America, Asia, and Africa course work is available in these regions through the Education Abroad Program and various programs available through other US universities.

Double Major

Students interested in Third World studies as a double major must have at least ten upper-division courses that are unique to each departmental major. The courses required for Third World studies may cover one or more disciplines. Courses may focus on a theme or problem or on a geo-historical area. The remaining two courses may overlap with the other major requirements. Approval from both departments is required for overlaps. Students should consult a Third World studies faculty member or program adviser for approval of a major program.


A student may minor in Third World studies by selecting two courses from the lower-division Third World studies sequence (TWS 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, or 26) and five upper-division courses in disciplines dealing with the Third World.

Third World studies faculty members offer courses in the Departments of Anthropology, Communication, Literature, Political Science, Sociology, History, and in the Third World Studies Program. Appropriate courses in other departments may also be considered. Students should consult departmental and program listings for Third World area offerings.