Chatham University

The Department of History, Political Science, and International Studies offers degrees that can lead to careers in law, government, policy analysis, and history, here and abroad. These programs combine the one-on-one attention of a small liberal arts college with the opportunities for international travel of a university. Our courses specialize in improving reading, writing, and critical thinking, all skills that many employers routinely look for in college graduates. These skills are also fundamental to careers in government, public history, and non-governmental organizations as well as graduate programs and law school.

Academic Programs



The history program offers courses in American, European, and non-Western history. These courses provide students with a grounding in the many ways historians have made sense of the world. Understanding how diverse societies, economies, states, and cultures have developed and changed over time is crucial to evaluating and adapting to today's ever-changing world. Learn more »


International Studies

International Studies

The International Studies program prepares students to thrive in an increasingly globalized environment. The coursework balances in-depth learning of various cultures alongside the disciplinary study of more general issues shaping relations among cultures and countries. Students explore both the interconnectedness of global processes and the impact of cultures on the way these processes are experienced. Learn more »

Policy Studies

Policy Studies

The Policy Studies major introduces students to policy making in public or private domains. It provides the solid base for students interested in public service (either in elected office or in government agencies, as well as for those interested in non-governmental policy organizations. It serves as the foundation for graduate work in public policy, law, and more traditional academic fields. Learn more »


Pre-law Program

Chatham's pre-law program is designed to encourage and support students with an interest in careers in law. It also helps students prepare to attend law school. The program includes the pre-law advisor, a pre-law minor, co-curricular programs offered in partnership with the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics, as well as the support of an advisory committee.

Co-curricular Programs

Global Focus

Global Focus

The Global Focus program at Chatham University engages our students in the purposeful study of peoples and civilizations. Our community of scholars promotes the acquisition of sustainable global competencies through the critical and holistic exploration of one specific country or region of the globe every year. The program concurrently reinforces cross-cultural ties and internationalization initiatives in the greater Pittsburgh area and beyond. Learn more »


Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics

Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics

The Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics (PCWP) at Chatham University is a nonpartisan center devoted to fostering women's public leadership through education, empowerment, and action. The first to focus on women's political involvement in Pennsylvania, the Center integrates disciplinary knowledge, civic education, and coalition building while examining the intersection of women and public policy. Learn more »

Study Abroad & Maymester

hpsis faculty lead illuminating, life-changing study abroad trips to all corners of the globe:

 ► Dr. Sène / Africa

Visiting a refugee camp in Durban, South Africa, the expressions on students' faces tell Dr. Jean-Jacques Sène that they are learning something that is impossible to grasp in a classroom setting. Some of the harsh realities of world history and international politics cannot always be captured in a textbook. Dr. Sène has led multiple field experiences to the African continent. They have been transformative for many students and had an impact on their professional accomplishments.

 ► Dr. Rossbach / Europe

Dr. David Rossbach has led students on field experiences in Istanbul, Brussels, and Berlin among other places. They have climbed the steps of ancient ruins, visited the Bundestag, and met with representatives of the EU in their offices.

 ► Dr. Kingsbury / Asia

In the summer of 2014, Dr. Karen Kingsbury, along with Chatham professor Dr. Charlotte E. Lott, took a research team of six undergraduate students to Taiwan for four weeks. The team studied female entrepreneurs in small-scale, regionally-based restaurants and lodging businesses. The research is expected to produce a series of analytical profiles of the female entrepreneurs telling their stories and articles in the four areas of interest–gender issues for women business owners, relationship networks, family dynamics, and perception of feminism. The project was funded by the 2014 ASIANetwork Freeman Foundation Student-Faculty Fellows Program for Collaborative Research in Asia and by a Chatham University Grant.


International Certificates

International certificates at Chatham University can be added to any major. The certificate demonstrates that a student has studied the history, culture, politics, and a language of a region and has experience in that region through a study abroad or an internship.


Regions: Africa • Europe • Latin America • Middle East


    18 credits, including:
  • Language courses and proficiency
  • Content courses including an introduction to the history of the region
  • 6-12 of the above credits earned through approved study abroad or internship

Students who complete 50% of the requirements are eligible for up to $3000 in study abroad voucher aid.

Sample Major-Region Certificate Pairings:

  • Business – Africa Certificate
  • Interior Architecture – Asia Certificate
  • Art History – Europe Certificate
  • Sustainability – Latin America Certificate
  • Communication – Middle East Certificate

Study Abroad Experiences

Nadia El-Amin

What was your study abroad experience?

I studied abroad in Amman, Jordan in the Spring semester of 2014.

How did you choose it?

I chose it based on the information provided to me by the Department of International Affairs here at Chatham. My provider was ISA and I was able to talk to a representative at a study abroad fair held here on campus!

How did it change your perspective on your field of study?

My time studying abroad really helped me to understand the importance of experience and exposure on-the-ground, so to speak. For example, my concentration in the Middle East, living in Amman gave me firsthand experience of the culture, language, and the skills needed to live in the region day to day.

How did Chatham help you in your study abroad process?

Chatham helped tremendously, answering my questions every step of the way and providing multiple scholarship opportunities to help fund my trip.

What was most valuable about your study abroad experience?

My time abroad taught me in the importance of independence and how independent I really was. Living without my parents in a new and uncensored world really showed me my own strengths. Living in a foreign country, I learned to navigate my world and better understand both my academic field and myself.


Julianna Brown

What was your study abroad experience?

My study abroad experience was in Berlin, Germany and Brussels, Belgium. Prior to the trip we studied European identity and the formation of the European Union. While we were on the trip, we visited with many German, Belgian, and European Union political figures; we also visited the European Union Parliament, as well as the Flemish Parliament, among others.

How did you choose it?

I am currently taking German at Chatham, and I love everything about Germany, from their cars to their culture. I also am very interested in European Union politics. Another key factor that persuaded me to go on the study abroad trip was the awesome scholarship that every Chatham student receives to study abroad. It definitely made the trip affordable for me!

How did it change your perspective on your field of study?

Being a history major, it was a very powerful experience to visit historical sites and learn about events that took place. While in Berlin we visited the Holocaust memorial, which reminded me why it it is important to study history, as history tends to repeat itself.

How did Chatham help you in your study abroad process?

Most importantly Chatham helped me financially. I probably would not have been able to go on the trip if it were not for the study abroad scholarship. Also my professors that went on the trip were very helpful–from preparing us before the trip, to helping us along the way while we were there. I thought it was very helpful that our professors had made prior plans for us before we arrived in Europe; we never really had to wait in line and were able to go to more places.

What was most valuable about your study abroad experience?

What is most valuable to me is the bond that I created between my professors that went on the trip and the students that went along. Even after the summer, it was so exciting to see everyone that I had been on the trip with. I really made some lifelong friendships while abroad with my fellow classmates. The bond I now have with my professors is also quite valuable, I often go into their offices to just sit and talk with them. Even more than that, they have also become my mentors.

Here is a brief sample of such courses:

Oral History, Neighborhoods, and Race with Dr. Martin

Oral History, Neighborhoods, and Race with Dr. Martin

In this course, students read about the history of African Americans in northern cities and learn how to do oral history interviews. Then they get to interview activists, community leaders, and elders about their experiences living in the nearby neighborhood of Homewood. These interviews become part of a growing collection of oral histories that help to preserve stories that might otherwise be lost.

Understanding Public Policy with Dr. Sweet-Cushman

Understanding Public Policy

Students begin the semester by drawing a map of how they imagine policies are made. At the end of the semester, they smile at the simplicity of the drawings now realizing the many layers to the process. One semester, students were also surprised to learn that economic policy turned out to be their favorite subject of the course.

Asian Foodways with Dr. Kingsbury

Asian Foodways

This course offers students the chance to eat tasty and unfamiliar foods and give them the chance to contextualize it. Through the process, students come to understand it as a means of cultural transmission, and the foods sampled become symbolic of parts of life much more involved than what is simply on the plate.

Rise of the Third World with Dr. Sène

Rise of the Third World

Rise of the Third World presents the saga of developing nations as they came together to challenge imperialism and colonialism after WWII, but Dr. Sène notes that in many ways, the structures of global inequities have remained in place since then. Students discover the dramatic events of the last half century that helped to preserve those structures and how their own standard of living is linked to Third World poverty in surprising ways.

Jennie Sweet-Cushman

Jennie Sweet-Cushman, Ph.D. / Political Science

Dr. Sweet-Cushman's first job out of college was managing a congressional campaign in her home state of Michigan. She remembers watching the winning results come in on television, but she was far from the victory party, spending that evening with hard-working volunteers in a small district. She still remembers the excitement of that night.

“There's nothing quite like seeing people you believe in win an election and get the chance to effect change,” she said.

Gaining practical experience in the world of politics has informed her research, teaching, and advising. Students are often surprised at how fascinating and complex the world of public policy can be.

Karen Kingsbury, Ph.D. / Comparative Literature

Dr. Kingsbury grew up in the Californian foothills of the Sierra Nevada but spent time in Seattle, New York City, Taipei, and Taichung, with shorter stints in Chongqing, London, Nantes, and upstate South Carolina before coming to Pittsburgh.

“My intellectual journeying has also shuttled between the U.S. and East Asia,” she recalls. “I started to study Chinese a year after finishing my bachelor's degree in English; it eventually became a lifelong pursuit.”

Karen Kingsbury, PhD

Jean-Jacque Sene

Jean-Jacques Sène, Ph.D. / African Studies

Dr. Sène was born and raised in Senegal, West Africa. He teaches African history and is the director of the Global Focus program that brings diplomats, scholars, filmmakers, novelists, and poets from around the world to Chatham University.

“Why don't I know this stuff?!” a student once exclaimed in the middle of his course, Africa: Past and Present. Dr. Sène's students become absorbed with Africa early in the semester. The West African empire of Mali adopted a very progressive constitution in 1236 C.E. more than 500 years before the United States, and the Mali constitution included articles on privileges accorded to women, prescriptions for active diplomacy, and restrictions to the use of slave labor.

David Rossbach, Ph.D. / Political Science

As he and his students walk through the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, Dr. Rossbach says that questions of European identity and ethnic conflict are no longer theoretical–they are very real. In his course Ethnic Conflict, students study ethnic cleansing, genocide, third-party involvement, and conflict theories. They explore recent cases in Chechnya and Rwanda and participate in simulations. “Students learn not only about the causes of ethnic and nationalist conflict,” Dr. Rossbach observed, “but they also learn about efforts to bring peaceful resolution to those conflicts.”

“Dr. Rossbach is a truly effective professor, who gets to know his students, and has such a willingness to listen and adjust for his student,” one student recently wrote. “He really is that professor who tells us that, if we want, he'll take the class period to just explain the Euro crisis to us.”

David Rossbach, PhD

Lou Martin, PhD

Lou Martin, Ph.D. / History

“What an experience it was to see my students sit down across a table from a 90-year-old woman who had migrated to Pittsburgh during World War II, who had fought for women's rights in the middle of the Black Power movement, and who had worked to make her neighborhood a better place for decades,” Dr. Martin recalled.

Dr. Martin's research focuses on the working class of Appalachia, and for the past few years he has been working with a small group of educators, UMWA members, and community organizers to create the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum in the small town of Matewan. He has brought these kinds of practical experiences to the classroom and to advising students on careers in history.

Martina Wells, Ph.D. / German Studies

When Dr. Wells chose her most recent research topic, it was personal. She says, "I am German and have children who are Jewish and German and American. And there is a movement for Jewish identity developing called New German Jewry. Finally, my father-in-law is a Holocaust survivor, which is another component of my interest in this topic."

Her research examines the repositioning of German-Jewish identity in 21st century literature and film. The authors and filmmakers studied employ tropes with a complicated history and explore the relation they have to the process of redefining Jewish identity in Germany today.

In her role as Foreign Languages Coordinator, Dr. Wells stresses meaningful activities both inside and outside the classroom setting. Our foreign language instruction takes advantage of Chatham University's diverse student population, creating spaces for native speakers and new language learners to interact. Karaoke Night is one of the best examples of this. International students and language learners get together for a night of music and fun, and they get to experiment, taking the stage to sing a new song in a new language in a supportive environment.

Students have also taken the initiative in forming a French Club to expand on out-of-class foreign language activities, and Wells enthusiastically supports these student activities because she knows that learning a new language is not just about practicing pronunciation. As Charlemagne once said, &lrdquo;To have a new language is to possess a second soul.”

Smokestacks in the Hills book

Dr. Lou Martin's new book, Smokestacks in the Hills: Rural-Industrial Workers in West Virginia, discusses the relocation of steel and pottery factories to Hancock County, West Virginia, and in doing so, how that created a rural and small-town working class and what that meant for communities and for labor. As Dr. Martin shows, access to land in and around steel and pottery towns allowed residents to preserve rural habits and culture. Workers in these areas valued place and local community. Because of that, an individualistic ethic of "making do," and company loyalty, they often worked to place limits on union influence. At the same time, this localism allowed workers to adapt to the dictates of industrial capitalism and a continually changing world on their own terms, retaining rural ways to a degree unknown among their urbanized peers.

More about Smokestacks in the Hills »

Dr. Karen Kingsbury's translation of the novel Half a Lifelong Romance was released in the U.S. in March 2016. As an English major who fell in love with Chinese culture, she wanted to find an author who expressed many of the things she loved but who was not yet widely known in the U.S. She discovered the brilliant novelist Eileen Chang, a genius of the 20th century in world culture. In her literary talent, Chang is a peer of William Faulkner, Virginia Woolf, Mark Twain, and James Joyce, and in China she is just as well-known as those towering literary figures.

More about Half a Lifelong Romance »

Half a Lifelong Romance

FMLA in PA Report

Dr. Jennie Sweet-Cushman's work with the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics allows her and her students the opportunity to put theory into practice. The results of the Center's 2014 study, FMLA in PA: A Report on Family and Medical Leave in The State, revealed that many states other than Pennsylvania had taken additional steps to guarantee leave for those who work for small employers, to protect the rights of adoptive parents, and to allow parents time for teacher-parent conferences. The report spurred Rep. Dan Frankel into action, and he worked to introduce three bills to the legislature after his staff met with Dr. Sweet-Cushman.

For the past two years, Dr. Lou Martin has been working with a group in Mingo County, West Virginia to create the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum. The board of directors includes a retired art teacher, a United Mine Workers of America official, and a citizen archaeologist, to name a few, and they celebrated the Grand Opening of the museum in May 2015. The museum explores the turbulent history of union organizing in southern West Virginia's coalfields in the early 1900s and seeks to contextualize that series of violent episodes that culminated in the 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain.

Notable Alumni

Jessica Byrd

Keara McKenna Diamond '11
Political Science and Economics
International Strategy Analyst,

As a strategic thinker, leader, and researcher, I have consistently demonstrated an ability to achieve results efficiently, multi-task, work as both a team player and independent thinker, and give back to my community. My passions include strategy, behavioral economics, and leadership theory. I currently work for MITRE's Center for Advanced Aviation Systems Development (CAASD).


Tiffany Tupper

Tiffany Tupper '11
History and Political Science
Program Coordinator, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

I'm a coordinator at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Middle East program. I have experience in project management, cultivating global networks, MENA regional studies, and domestic and international logistics and event coordination. I'm also a writer on entrepreneurs, tech, education, and environmental issues in the Middle East.


Rachel Lunsford

Rachel Lunsford '07
Public Policy Studies
Business analysis,
Iowa Department of Public Health

I develop and implement programs and projects from end-to-end – identify requirements, specify a design, develop the project, deploy the solution, work collaboratively with business stakeholders, communicate frequently with internal and external stakeholders. I build collaborative public-private relationships and focus on improving organizational and operational efficiencies.

Alumni Experience

Here are some of the positions that hpsis graduates have gone on to hold, and the companies where they have held them:

B.A. in Political Science

  • Development Administrative Assistant at Manchester Bidwell Corp. / Pittsburgh, PA
  • Junior Associate Attorney at Law Office of Eric Shore / Philadelphia, PA
  • International Strategy Analyst at MITRE / Washington, DC
  • Technical Partner at Excela Health / Latrobe, PA
  • Program Coordinator at Middle East Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace / Washington, DC
  • Lodge Manager at Project Vote Smart / Philipsburg, MT

B.A. in History

  • Photo Archivist, InterSystems / Cambridge, MA
  • Community Building Administrative Assistant, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh / Pittsburgh, PA
  • Substitute Teacher, Steel Valley School District / Munhall, PA
  • Visitor Service Representative, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh / Pittsburgh, PA
  • Special Education Teacher, Culpeper County Public Schools / Culpeper, VA
  • Eligibility Coordinator, Central Data Services / Pittsburgh, PA
  • Higher Education Professional / Honolulu, HI
  • Masters Student in Material Culture and Public Humanities, Virginia Tech / Blacksburg, VA
  • Grad student, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs / Pittsburgh, PA

B.A. in Policy Studies

  • Student Defense Counsel, US Marine Corps / Fishers, IN
  • Co-Chair, Mt. Lebanon Environmental Team / Pittsburgh, PA
  • Education Research Assistant, H. John Heinz III College at Carnegie Mellon University / Pittsburgh, PA
  • Lease & Title Analyst, Brighton Resources, Inc. / Pittsburgh, PA
  • Associate Attorney in Immigration Law, Seth Law Center / Pittsburgh, PA
  • Assistant Director of Executive Education Programs, H. John Heinz III College at Carnegie Mellon University / Pittsburgh, PA
  • Staff Attorney, Domestic Violence Service Center / Wilkes Barre, PA
  • Data Scientist, ADM Associates / Sacramento, CA
  • Bilingual Legal Assistant-Immigration and Personal Injury, Law Offices of Marc Reiter / Pittsburgh, PA
  • Grad student in the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs / Pittsburgh, PA


Students in the hpsis department have interned with the following organizations:

Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh
Global Pittsburgh
League of Women Voters Pittsburgh
Magee Womencare International
The Westmoreland Museum of American Art
Pittsburgh Action Against Rape / PAAR
Kiva City Pittsburgh
Ten Thousand Villages
Thomas Merton Center
Pittsburgh City Planning
World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh
Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh
Heinz History Center
Children's Musuem Pittsburgh
Women's Law Project

Featured Internships

The summer that I spent interning in the development department of The Library Company of Philadelphia provided me with real-world experience, enhancing my classroom experiences at Chatham. The support from the staff and professors at Chatham allowed me to focus on a challenging internship, affording me tremendous educational and networking opportunities.”

– Samantha Parish


“Completing an internship with a law firm in Pittsburgh allowed me to ascertain what it would be like to work in a firm as an attorney, as well as observing the complexities involved with immigration law. Everyone in the office was cordial and professional. I really enjoyed my internship and value my experience at the law firm.

– Renee Seaman


I think my internship definitely prepared me for pursuing future work in my field, because it taught me the skills I would need if I decided to pursue work in the Middle East. Without this experience, I would not have gained such a thorough understanding of the various cultural and professional differences in this particular region.”

– Nadia El-Amin