About the Governor's School for International Studies

The Tennessee Governor's School program was conceived as an opportunity for the best and brightest students in high schools across the state to receive, free of charge, an opportunity for an in-depth introduction into a chosen area of study. These programs were to be intellectually rigorous as well as enriching to their students' personal and growth. Placed on university campuses throughout the state, the programs offer a chance for the participating rising juniors and seniors to get a preview of college life.

Since 1986, the Tennessee Governor's School for International Studies (GSIS) at the University of Memphis has afforded high school student-scholars an exciting "total immersion" experience, introducing them to the challenges and possibilities of their contributions as actors on the world stage.  GSIS is a four-week immersion into the world around us, including the study and discussion of global cultures, foreign languages and international perspectives. The program provides students the opportunity to see far beyond the boundaries of our state and to explore and assess the global economic, historical and cultural relationships that affect us. Students study and discuss world issues with political and business leaders.

In 2004, Governor Phil Bredeson, through the Department of Education, invited all existing Tennessee Governor's Schools to restructure. The thought was to offer student-scholars an added and very tangible reward: college credit. This challenge – maintaining an established core of enrichment activities and programs while adding the rigors of university-level scholarship – was accepted by all nine Governor's Schools. In 2005, for the first time, the Tennessee Governor's School for International Studies offered its student-scholars college credit.  These credits are designed to meet the General Education requirements for and to be fully transferable to any state university in Tennessee.

Aside from the three-hour credit course, the GSIS program exposes its scholars to languages, cultures, speakers and activities designed to broaden horizons and deepen perspectives on issues as diverse as international business, immigration, the workings of the United Nations, genocide, national security, world hunger, careers in diplomacy, and the health and environmental consequences of nuclear accident.  Students are encouraged to explore and develop conclusions and solutions to problems faced by third world nations and global powers. Through coursework, projects, lectures and discussions with faculty, politicians, government agents, and business leaders, students discover the growing complexities of international inter-dependence. In surveys of GSIS Alumni, GSIS participants routinely report that they are more informed, more aware, more prepared, and more motivated to take leadership roles in changing, for the better, the world they will inherit.

The students live together in a residence hall setting with their resident counselors (many of Resident counselors are alumni of the program), out-of-state faculty members, and the program's associate director. The resident counselors rotate schedules with the University's Residence Life staff so that the front desk of the residence hall is continually staffed and monitored. Resident counselors accompany the students to their classes and plenary sessions, conduct study sessions, function as teaching assistants to the faculty, and are the principal organizers of many group activities. Classes usually take place in one building or building complex. All regular meals are provided served to the group in one of the campus' dining halls.