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International Affairs Spotlight


Elizabeth Hardt: Pioneering a New Program

“In this major, you realize that history helps you understand current politics, religion affects economics, politics influence culture, and the ability to connect all these elements is crucial.”

Elizabeth Hardt

Hardt joins in campus activities for Holi Festival, a Hindu celebration of spring during which participants throw scented powder and perfume at each other. The festivities encourage a loosening of the strict social norms regarding gender and caste.

During her first term at Transylvania, Elizabeth Hardt ’15 wavered momentarily in her resolve to study international affairs, her plan since high school. But it was political science professor Jeff Freyman's International Politics class that confirmed she was still on the right path.

Hardt claims it was one of the hardest classes she’ll ever take. “I left each class with a completely different view of the world that shattered my fragile one. I must have grown addicted to these mind-bending, confusing feelings. They made me want to learn more.”

Hardt appreciates that the international affairs major offers the flexibility to study economics, politics, anthropology, religion, or history—all subjects she is intensely interested in. She expects to add a French major and possibly a minor to her academic pursuits.

She also values that, as part of a liberal arts curriculum, students and faculty are expected to connect ideas across disciplines.

“My first term, I remember discussing Freud in both my Introduction to Religion and General Psychology classes and talking about gender norms in at least three of my classes.”

Hardt also has a keen interest in studying abroad, which is strongly encouraged for all Transylvania students. After traveling to the Dominican Republic with Dean Kathleen Jagger and the student-led Alternative Winter Break group, her enthusiasm for travel is boundless.

“We stayed at an orphanage in Jaibon, ran a camp for the neighborhood kids and the boys in the orphanage, and explored the Dominican Republic on the last day. I was able to combine my desire to serve with my desire to experience other countries.”

As a result of her trip abroad, Hardt is thinking about a career in diplomacy or non-profit work.

“I plan to study abroad as many times as I can.”

When Hardt was considering her college choices, Transylvania did not have an international affairs program. It did, however, have the small class size, engaged faculty, and tight-knit community that she wanted.  

“When I met with my advisor, political science professor Michael Cairo, during first-year orientation, he told me he was working with other professors to create an international affairs major and would help me in any way he could to be one of the first students to complete the program. His enthusiasm about developing this major cemented my decision to stay at Transylvania.”

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