The CISLA ExperienceFirst-Year SophomoresJuniorsSeniors

Go beyond the typical undergraduate experience and explore, learn and work professionally in the international world.

To help meet the challenge of an increasingly global society, Connecticut College launched the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA) in 1989.

The CISLA mission is to educate students to become culturally sensitive, socially engaged, politically informed leaders, and to give them the skills to succeed in a globalized world. As one of the interdisciplinary academic centers, CISLA offers Connecticut College students the opportunity to prepare for the international world of today and tomorrow.

The following three questions form the theoretical framework of the CISLA experience:

  • How do the multiple origins and power dynamics of contemporary society impact us today?
  • How can one's personal, national, or cultural history shape possibilities for the future?
  • How can we address the material, spiritual and ethical challenges facing the world today? 

First-Year students are encouraged to learn about CISLA and come to a variety of information sessions scheduled throughout the year. Students interested in applying to CISLA should be studying a language during their first year at Conn College. 

Sophomores formally apply to our Center and are admitted to CISLA during the fall of their sophomore year. Once named CISLA scholars, they begin their CISLA journey in the spring semester with a gateway course designed exclusively for CISLA students, "Perspectives on Modern Global Society." In this course, students consider an array of international issues through the lens of the three CISLA questions, begin to develop the theoretical framework and international perspectives that will guide their CISLA experience, and hone their interests for their Senior Integrative Project.

Sami Feldman in Berlin, Germany
Samantha Feldman '19 in Berlin, Germany

Juniors continue to work towards reaching a required level of oral proficiency in a world language and take courses outside of the major to gain an interdisciplinary understanding of their research and world region of interest. The CISLA juniors generally scatter to the four corners of the globe, as CISLA both allows and strongly encourages students to participate in study away programs in their regions of interest. Juniors complete IS 301 (fall) and IS 302 (spring), the CISLA Junior Seminar, to further develop ideas and research for their proposed Senior Integrative Project, to identify internship organizations of interest and secure a relevant international internship, and to prepare for the cultural, linguistic, and geographical differences they will encounter as international visitors.

The summer after the junior year, CISLA scholars complete a funded summer internship in their country of focus, using their languages of study, in fields related to their proposed senior research subjects.

Seniors come back together in the fall and complete a senior seminar, "New Perspectives on Modern Global Society," through which they share their thoughts and experiences of being abroad, and reflect upon the personal discoveries they have made during their CISLA journeys. They present their interdisciplinary experience, along with all seniors in Centers and Pathways, at the All College Symposium in November.

Senior year is also when the CISLA scholar integrates their major, coursework, research, and internship experience into the Senior Integrative Project (SIP) in the form of an honors thesis or an independent study project.

Finally, the seniors must pass an oral proficiency examination in their world language of study. Upon successful completion of all of the CISLA requirements, students will be awarded CISLA certification at graduation.

Requirements for the CISLA Certificate

CISLA Handbook 2021

  1. An overall GPA of 3.0 or higher
  2. Successful completion of IS 201
  3. Successful completion of IS 301 and IS 302
  4. Succesful completion of IS 401
  5. Completion of an 8-12 week international internship
  6. Completion of a Senior Integrative Project directed by a faculty member with a grade of B+ or higher (A- or higher if completed as an Honors Thesis)
  7. Certification of world language oral proficiency by ACTFL (the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages)
  8. Satisfactory completion of the CISLA reflection essay