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, and politically informed. 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 we interact with the multiple origins and dynamics of power structures and social hierarchies today?
  • How can a given body’s (person’s, nation’s, discipline’s, institution’s) history shape future possibilities for discovery?
  • How can we address the material, spiritual and ethical challenges facing us today? 

The CISLA Experience: Year by Year

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 and begin to develop the theoretical framework and international perspectives that will guide their CISLA experience. Sophomores hone their interests for their Senior Integrative Project and work with the Internship Coordinator to develop an internship contact list, a targeted resume, and cover letters.    

Juniors continue to work towards reaching a certain level of oral proficiency in a world language, complete critical professional skills workshops and focus on one region of the world and its culture. The CISLA juniors generally scatter to the four corners of the globe, as CISLA both allows and strongly encourages students to participate in semester or year-long study abroad programs in their regions of interest. While on campus, students prepare for the cultural, linguistic and geographical differences they will encounter as international visitors.

Students are challenged during their junior year by continuing to develop ideas and research for their proposed Senior Integrative Projects and by working closely with the Internship Coordinator to successfully locate organizations of interest and secure a relevant internship position.

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 complete a Senior Seminar and integrative research project that explores an international issue related to the student's major field, internship experience, and world language and culture studied. 

Upon completion of their summer internship experiences, CISLA seniors return to campus to begin the final phases of the program. In their CISLA class, IS401: New Perspectives on Modern Global Society, they share their thoughts and experiences of being abroad, and reflect upon the personal discoveries they have made during their CISLA journeys.

Senior year is also when the CISLA scholar integrates his or her 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, they will be awarded CISLA certification at graduation.

Requirements for the CISLA Certificate

  • Certification of world language oral proficiency by ACTFL (the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages)
  • Completion of all CISLA-required courses and workshops
  • Completion of the 8-12 week international internship
  • Completion of a Senior Integrative Project directed by a faculty member with a grade of B+ or higher