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The Simmons Voice

The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

Students and faculty react: changes to the IR department

“We’ll still have robust course offerings in the field of international relations, just as we’ve always had.”
Eri O’Brien

An email sent out to the student body from the Office of President Lynn Perry Wooten detailed several academic changes on September 29. Among them included the International Relations (IR) major being shifted into a track within the Political Science Department. President Wooten’s email said the shift will “expose students to a range of policy topics both locally and abroad.”

Any student in a program that will be impacted received an email shortly before the news broke to the rest of the student body, including those in International Relations. In her email, the department chair Lena Zuckerwise stated “Any current IR student will be able to complete their major. Anyone who wishes to study IR after the fall of 2024 will still be able to do so…we’ll still have robust course offerings in the field of international relations, just as we’ve always had.”

In an interview with the Voice, Zuckerwise indicated the context that preceded the decision, saying  “A wide variety of universities have not had a separate IR major in a long time if at all. It’s very common for it to be a track.”

Kelly Hager, Associate Provost for Curriculum, Assessment, and Accreditation, has been at Simmons since 2001. She said that the financial crisis is not something Simmons has ever experienced and that the decision to sunset certain programs has been discussed for a long time.

Hager is also an expert on PLAN, the undergraduate general education curriculum. She emphasized that general education programs depend on the university and need to be the right fit. Changes to PLAN based on the recent academic changes are forthcoming, indicated Hager. Spearheaded by faculty–including general education directors, advisory groups, undergraduate curriculum committee, and faculty senate members–students will also be invited. 

Hager also said that the administration is eager to reduce the PLAN credit requirement to 40 credits from its current 48-52 and ensure that Key Content Areas (KCAs) reaffirm a liberal arts and humanities commitment. “[KCAs] must be continuously examined to make sure they are all the right fit,” said Hager.

Maddy Gallagher is a second-year IR major with a double major in political science and applied to colleges knowing that IR was the major for her. She also expressed interest in a French minor but is hesitant knowing the French program is one that will be sunsetted.

However, Gallagher understands the business aspects behind the decision, saying she knows President Wooten had to make difficult decisions that were financially appropriate.  “I believe that it’s important to consider the impact this will have on the Simmons community––a liberal arts school that isn’t funding the arts,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher said despite knowing the program would remain a track within Political Science and provide some relief, she was drawn to International Relations for a reason.

“There is value to [IR] being its own major,” said Gallagher. “We’re in a really diverse society, and this is a major that directly connects people to the international world.” 

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About the Contributors
Abigail Meyers
Abigail Meyers, Social Media Editor
Abigail Meyers (2026, she/her) is a sophomore majoring in Journalism with minors in Political Science and Social Media. She has been writing for the Voice since fall of her freshman year and is elated to be joining the editorial team! When she's not in the newsroom, you can find her exploring the city, working out, obsessing over Taylor Swift, or baking something she saw on TikTok.
Eri O’Brien
Eri O’Brien, Visuals Editor
Eri O’Brien (2024, she/her) is majoring in Studio Art and Communications on the Integrated Media track. She loves taking photos, writing, and going on walks with her dog Jeffrey.

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