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irish studies students

Interdisciplinary Minor in Irish Studies

As well as fostering worthwhile student and community outcomes in Savannah, CIRT also maintains a full-service presence on GS’s original and largest campus, located in the town of Statesboro, Georgia, 50 miles (80.5 kilometers) inland from Savannah on the Interstate-16 corridor. Opened in 1906, that 920-acre (372-hectare) campus is deemed one of America’s most beautifully landscaped sites of higher learning. Signature buildings include the $33.6-million Interdisciplinary Academic Building (in which CIRT’s office suite is located) and the $54.8-million Center for Engineering and Research.

On both the Statesboro and Savannah campuses — and, since 2020, also on the university’s Wexford campus in southeast Ireland — CIRT facilitates Irish-focused courses across the disciplines: from international business to sustainability; from secondary education to healthcare administration; from theater to history; and much more. CIRT has gained distinction for incorporating experiential learning into its courses, many of which provide comparative study of Irish and US approaches to key challenges. While around 33 million Americans self-identify as Irish-American, students of all backgrounds find study of Ireland enriching and relevant.

As our society reassesses systemic racism, some students are surprised to learn that Daniel O’Connell, Ireland’s foremost nationalist politician of the first half of the nineteenth century, became one of earth’s highest profile anti-slavery advocates and, as such, a hero to Frederick Douglass, who delivered almost 50 speeches while living temporarily in Ireland. Upon his arrival in Ireland, Douglass wrote, “I am covered with the soft, grey fog of the Emerald Isle. I breathe, and — lo! — the chattel becomes a man.” O’Connell vociferously opposed gradualism as an approach to dismantling slavery; instead, he pushed for immediate and absolute emancipation, characterizing (in an 1843 speech) “the slavery of men of color in the United States of America” as “the most hideous crime that has ever stained humanity.”

Taken at the National Archives of Ireland in Dublin, this image captures Georgia Southern Irish Studies undergraduate student James Devlin examining archival material that pertains to the mid-nineteenth-century trade-and-emigration link between County Wexford, Ireland, and Savannah, Georgia. The documents had not been unbundled and scrutinized in over 100 years. Such exciting, groundbreaking work exemplifies CIRT’s commitment to providing students with superior educational experiences. Later, James and some fellow students delivered an illustrated presentation about their research in the Office of the Taoiseach (prime minister) of Ireland.

Many students add an international dimension to — and, thus, increase the value and impact of — their degrees by pursuing the five-course (15-credit-hour) Interdisciplinary Minor in Irish Studies. It can be acquired by means of courses offered Stateside and/or in Ireland, and some online courses are also available. Now more than ever, graduate and professional programs, as well as many employers, are seeking the global competencies that completion of the Minor demonstrates. As the only English-speaking and only common-law nation in the European Union, Ireland is the ideal bridge for Americans into that 446-million-person bloc. Boasting a highly productive, technologically advanced, and distinctly global economy, Ireland is first in the world for inward economic investment by quality and value, and it maintains one of earth’s most educated workforces. Notable strengths include biopharmaceuticals; information and communications technology; and financial technology and services. Ireland has been chosen as EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) headquarters by all of the top five software companies in existence; all of the top 10 pharma companies; 14 out 15 of the top medical device companies; and 18 out of 25 of the top financial services companies.

Last updated: 9/19/2023