Stuart Isherwood ’20

The IR Program would like to congratulate all those students who graduated from the IR Major in 2020. We want to honour the knowledge and insight these students have to share even though they are not able to do it in person, so will be featuring many of them in a series of interviews here online. Go forth, grads, we are proud of you! 

Name: Stuart Isherwood

Started at UBC in: 2016

LinkedIn profile

Why did you choose to study IR?

I chose to study IR for several reasons. First (and at the end of my second year probably foremost), the idea of studying within one discipline for the next two years (at least) intimidated me. I felt that political science, history, and economics all offered really useful, but very different skills. I also really liked the idea of having options and getting to build a degree around something I was passionate about. I remember going through the upper-year courses offered in the Faculty of Arts and feeling consistent excitement about the IR courses. Looking back, I am so appreciative of the interdisciplinary nature of international relations, and feel lucky that I chose it as my Major!

What was one significant learning moment that happened during your degree? 

While it’s difficult to choose a specific moment, I often think back to early on in my degree. I was originally admitted to UBC in the Faculty of Science, and I was positive that I would go into medicine. After my first term, I quickly realized that that was not going to happen. Looking back in my fourth year, I can’t imagine how things would have been if I had stayed in Sciences. Above all else, my degree has taught me that sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned, and that is okay!

What is one thing that you did/were involved in that you think future IR students should consider? 

I got really involved in the greater UBC community! While there are definitely great IR-related clubs and communities, UBC has so much to offer. You have the opportunity to meet people from all around the world that may be completely different from you, and you should take advantage of that!

Most memorable or favourite IR class? And why? 

I have enjoyed the content of so many IR classes, but I really enjoyed HIST 432 for a different reason. This is one of the few classes that is comprised of mostly IR Majors, and it gave me the chance to meet some of my best IR friends! There is a lot of content, but it provided me with a great baseline understanding of world history that I was able to bring to other courses for the rest of my degree.

Any advice for future IR Majors?

My advice to future IR Majors is to take at least one course that is based on a region of the world you are completely unfamiliar with. Coming out of high school, I knew practically nothing about the Middle East. I can’t explain how glad I am that I chose to take HIST 405, which introduced me to one of the most interesting and dynamic parts of the world. When else in your life are you going to be able to challenge yourself in this way while learning more about the world.