Like many students, when she was in college Dr. Alexandra Sterling-Hellenbrand started out majoring in one subject and then switched to another – for her, biology and then English. All the while she kept taking German classes just because she loved the language and was good at it.
So, she says, she appreciates how some students wrestle with choosing what they consider an ideal major to match their interests. (She ended up earning a master’s degree and doctorate in German, and is an expert in German language and culture.)
What excites her about the Global Studies major is that it combines a lot of what she was looking for as an undergraduate – a program that pulled together seemingly disparate parts.
She calls Global Studies “the major for the 21st century” because it lets students combine topics, make connections and consider the processes – local and global, past and present – that shape the world.
“It will make them thoughtful, engaged global citizens,” Sterling-Hellenbrand said of the degree, which is housed in the Department of Cultural, Gender and Global Studies.
“They take focus area courses and in the senior capstone we pull all them together. We develop their intercultural skills, integrate them in a comprehensive way, and they find relevant, fascinating career paths.”
Like other faculty in the Global Studies program, Sterling-Hellenbrand leads her classes in a collaborative, discussion-based way. Her upper-level classes enroll about 15 students. Lower-level classes may have as many as 40 students, but they still include small-class opportunities for group projects and presentations.
A researcher in medieval German literature and Arthurian legends, Hellenbrand also plays the violin and enjoys travel and cooking. She was named the Outstanding Faculty Advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences in 2014.