How to become a Digital Nomad?

I was talking with a student recently who said that they wanted to create a life where they could live in different locations or even nations. When I asked the student if they had ever heard the term Digital Nomad they said no. But when I began to explain the term for this movement, they said that they felt a chill. I’ve talked about digital nomads before, because every year I come to know several of them through my online classes and advising for my department’s online track.

In week ten of my Introduction to International Studies course we focus on careers, using the “Where to Go Next Chapter” in our textbook. But I’ve also added some other content now addressing Digital Nomads; I’ve also created a discussion prompt (its an online class) around this topic. You can see both the week’s content and the discussion prompt below:

Week 10, Careers and International Travel

Watch: No videos this week.

Listen:  Podcast on International Careers

View: the PSU Career Center website.

Read:

Chapters Twelve and Thirteen: Where to go from here and Conclusion.

Smallman (2017), “Digital Wanderers.” Blog post, Introduction to International and Global Studies.

Nomad List, website.

Beverly Yuen Thompson. (2018). Digital Nomads: Employment in the Online Gig Economy. Glocalism: Journal of Culture, Politics and Innovation, 2018(1), Glocalism: Journal of Culture, Politics and Innovation, 01 June 2018, Vol.2018(1).

Do: Complete your first discussion post by Wednesday at 11:59, and respond to another student by Friday at 11:59.

Week 10 Discussion Prompt:

This week you read Smallman’s blog post about Digital Wanderers. Could you see yourself as a Digital Wanderer/Nomad? Why or Why not? If you were one, where would you wish to live? Why? Do you know any Digital Wanderers? Or if you are one, do you have any tips?

I’ve also asked my students for the career advice that they’d like to share with their peers. This is what they said:

Don’t let your education get in the way of your learning

Show up when others won’t

Take any experience that you can get

Your major does not determine your career

Be patient. You will find your career.

Stay open to opportunities because the unexpected can happen.

Shawn Smallman, 2019

Permanent link to this article: https://www.introtoglobalstudies.com/2019/11/digital-nomads-2/

Rethinking the Vela Incident

It’s always surprising to see which blogs people read. One of the blogs that attracted the most comment was on a nuclear mystery called the Vela Incident. The short version of the story is that on September 22, 1979 an aging American spy satellite detected a powerful flash of light deep in the planet’s southern oceans. For decades people have debated whether this may have been an illegal nuclear test, and -if so- which state may have been responsible. Other theories have also been advanced for the blast, which range from a lightening super-bolt to a meteor. There have been no clear answers. Now Foreign Policy has a special issue about just this topic. If you are interested in mysteries, espionage or number stations, this edition presents a series of arguments that Israel was the responsible party. According to one section by Victor Gilinsky, the United States knew who was responsible, but chose to keep silent.

Shawn Smallman, 2019

Permanent link to this article: https://www.introtoglobalstudies.com/2019/11/rethinking-the-vela-incident/

Death in Ice Valley

Two of the viking stone ships (burial grounds) at Badelunda, near Västerås, Sweden.
By User:Berig (User:Berig. Transferred from en.wp) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Every year on Halloween I cover a suitable topic, such as a haunted house in Hong Kong, or a mystery ship in Canada. This year I want to briefly mention “Death in Ice Valley” which is a joint production between the BBC World Service and NRK. This particular podcast examines the mystery that surrounds the Isdal woman, an unidentified person who was found murdered in strange circumstances in a Norwegian valley in 1970. While there was considerable evidence that the woman was a spy, her identity has remained a mystery for all these years.

The mood of the podcast is set at the start of each episode by the sound of the drizzling rain and a haunting vocal. The degree of research that went into this production is simply staggering. The two reporters -one British, one Norwegian- travel from the remote fjords of northern Norway to the home of an aging crime reporter in Spain. They find the woman’s jaw, do DNA testing, and locate a secret file. And with every discovery a new door opens, and more questions surface. As the story progresses, we become swept into the Cold World era. The tale is worth of one of my favorite fictional characters, George Smiley. While there are no supernatural elements to this podcast, it is a haunting, atmospheric puzzling production. The podcast is available everywhere from iTunes to Overcast.  Highly recommended.

If you are interested in a tale of the Northern supernatural, you may also want to put on the kettle, and read my book Dangerous Spirits. But it’s best not to do it in the midst of a Canadian or New England winter, especially if there is a blizzard, and the raccoon is making those sounds in the attic again.

Shawn Smallman, 2019

Permanent link to this article: https://www.introtoglobalstudies.com/2019/10/death-in-ice-valley/

Ghosts of China

 

Temple dedicated to the goddess of the Sea. Located on Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. Photo by Shawn Smallman

Every year I do at least one post about international folklore, such as a haunted house in Hong Kong, because I love the mysterious. This year, since I am studying Mandarin, I want to explore the idea of the ghosts in this language itself. The idea of the ghost is key in Chinese culture. One of the nation’s major holidays is the Hungry Ghost Festival (中元节) on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month. It’s a date to honor your ancestors, while also being careful to propitiate any wayward spirits. But what kind of ghosts might you fear meeting?

Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: https://www.introtoglobalstudies.com/2019/10/ghosts-of-china/

Ghosts across cultures

The Old Burial Ground at the Boston Commons. Photo by Smallman

I’ve long loved Japanese ghost stories, ever since I came across the stories of Lafcadio Hearn. As the epitome of modernity, with its vast urban metropolis of Tokyo, sophisticated infrastructure, and advanced education, you might expect that these supernatural traditions would be fading in Japan. After all, Hearn recorded his stories in the nineteenth century. Instead, the traditions are evolving, as Christopher Harding has described in an article, “Ghosts on the Shore.” In the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami, ghosts didn’t disappear, but their role changed, as they comforted the living. Harding’s well-written and thoughtful piece is worth reading, particularly to hear the thoughts of one Zen priest who has an interesting take on the divide between the living and the dead. Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: https://www.introtoglobalstudies.com/2019/10/japanese-ghosts/

Crazy Book Prices

As authors, the prices that Amazon and other e-stores charge for our books can be mystifying. Today I received an email from a graduate student interested in accessing a book (Dangerous Spirits: the Windigo in Myth and Legend) that I had written on an evil-spirit being in Algonquian religion. They said that they couldn’t afford over $700 for the book, and asked if I could help them. I was confused and went online to look on Amazon. Sure enough, what I saw was the prices that you can view on the screenshot below. This left me rather mystified. The Kindle version of the book is under nine dollars (U.S. funds), while on Apple books the e-book is selling for just under ten dollars. Why would anyone pay $1,187.50 for the physical book? And why didn’t I save a couple of copies myself to sell on Amazon?

I know that the windigo is a common subject in pop culture, such as young adult novels, television and video games. I also know that a movie on the windigo called Antlers (set in Oregon) is coming out shortly. But these prices are unbelievable. Just to be clear: I certainly receive no share of these inflated prices, and my profits on the book have been quite modest. That’s typically the way it is for academic authors. I spent eleven years researching and writing my first book, and my first (and by far the largest) royalty check was about $220 U.S. dollars. My wife and I used it to go out for dinner to celebrate. You can imagine what the hourly rate for writing that book must have been, especially after spending a year researching amongst dusty papers in Brazil’s military archives. I try not to think about it.

So when you see such elevated prices for a book, please don’t think that this has anything to do with the authors, or that we are somehow receiving a large share of these funds. For anyone who is interested, you can obtain a paperback copy of the book for $19.95 Canadian from my publisher, Heritage House press. If you can afford to buy it from the publisher (and are in Canada), your purchase supports a small, independent house that’s an important venue for books on history.

Want to learn more about the windigo? You can watch a video by PBS’s Monstrum on YouTube here.

Shawn Smallman

Dangerous Spirits on Amazon

Permanent link to this article: https://www.introtoglobalstudies.com/2019/10/book-prices-and-writing/

Online teaching and excellence

Image of a globe on a light, McGill University. Photo by Smallman

I’ve been teaching online for several years now, and it’s become not only the only way I teach, but also the impetus for some of my research. For me, moving my teaching online led me to change my pedagogy. I have become an advocate of both Universal Design and the Negotiated Syllabus, which not only create more inclusive classes, but also engage students in their own learning. I began to use Turnitin not so much to catch plagiarism, but as a tool for students to learn how to paraphrase and cite correctly. It also became one part of a lengthy process of peer review that I now use to teach students that by adopting an iterative process they can transform their writing. I’ve also revamped my assignments so that they develop particular skills, such as the ability to locate, manipulate, and interpret data. When I look at my syllabi now, they are far different than they were a decade ago. Even though I had more than once won teaching awards for my face to face teaching. I think that my online classes are better than their face to face (F2F) predecessors. Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: https://www.introtoglobalstudies.com/2019/10/online-teaching/

China, Hong Kong and cyber espionage

Poster at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

In 2017 I spent some time in Hong Kong and Macau, and had the opportunity to speak to a number of academics. One of the most frequent questions that they asked me was whether people in the United States were following events in Hong Kong. I had to tell them no. There were so many major political debates taking place within the United States itself that events in Hong Kong hadn’t drawn much attention. That has changed now.

Britain returned Hong Kong to China in 1999, under a “one country, two systems” approach. In recent years, however, people have become increasingly concerned about their independence. For example, in 2015 five booksellers in Hong Kong went missing. At least one of the men later claimed that he had been kidnapped for selling books critical of China’s leadership. This context shaped how people in Hong Kong viewed a proposed law to allow the extradition of Hong Kong’s residents to mainland China. The bill was presented in April, and provoked massive protests by June. Even after Hong Kong’s governor withdrew the bill in September the protests continued to escalate. This issue has come to embody the fears of most people in Hong Kong that they will lose autonomy. For this reason, one of the protesters’ demand is for complete suffrage in the selection of their leaders, along with amnesty for those who have taken part in the protests, and an independent investigation of what they view as police brutality. Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: https://www.introtoglobalstudies.com/2019/09/hong-kong-and-social-media/

Migration, Public Health and the United States

Does migration pose a health risk to domestic populations? The Trump administration has argued that “public health concerns” associated with migration are so serious that they justify extensive border security measures in the United States, such as the creation of a wall on the southern border. For anyone interested in a detailed look at the literature on migration and health, I recommend the work of Abubaker (2018) and colleagues listed in the references below. The relationship between health and migration is complex, and this work provides an evidence based assessment of the issues. Of course, migrants often face health challenges that are linked to the conditions that inspired them to migrate in the first place, as well as the physical challenges of migration itself (Carballo & Nerurkar, 2001). There are a small number of infectious diseases associated with migrants from Latin America, such as Chagas’ disease (Darr & Conn, 2015). With Chagas the possibility of transmission is readily managed in areas where this is a health concern through measures such as blood screening, and testing organs before donation (Schmunis & Yadon). Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: https://www.introtoglobalstudies.com/2019/09/migration-and-health/

The forthcoming third edition

Hello everyone. Shawn and I have been working this summer to update the textbook and are pleased to have sent off revisions for the third edition to the Press. Since the last edition in 2011, world events have once again reshaped what may be central to the field of international/global studies. Additionally, a number of you have given us feedback on the information contained in the chapters and we have tried to incorporate many of your suggestions.

Students have let us know that the overall structure of the text has worked well for them in face to face, hybrid, and online settings. Students with learning differences have found the text to be very approachable and we have tried to draw upon universal design principles in this next edition. We continue to believe that undergraduate students can make a difference in the world once they have access to accurate information and are encouraged to make connections between the local and the global.

In the upcoming edition, look for the following changes:

  • All chapters have been updated in terms of statistics and references. 
  • Activities are more consistent.  Each chapter now has three activities moving from analysis to reflection to personal connections.
  • There are multiple new case studies including a coffee plantation in Nepal, three small island nations, Inuit and Australian Aboriginal health crises, and land acquisition around the globe by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and China.
  • Students are guided in resume writing exercises looking towards the future
  • There are two new cases studies in the conclusion: Ai Wei Wei and Jacinda Ardern
  • We provide new perspectives on both globalization and globalism and explore the new tensions between nationalism and populism.
  • BREXIT is examined in several chapters.
  • Demographic and political dimensions of the refugee crisis are examined as is what is sometimes termed “the politics of exhaustion,” as the world faces the movement of millions of people.
  •  We explore the role of human security as an approach lets us explore more interrelated security threats, be they terrorist movements, cyberthreats, or pandemics.
  • ISIS, Afghanistan, North Korea, Russia, the rise of China, and the possibility of a Great Power War are explored.
  • Current energy issues now include more on what happened in Fukushima, the costs of fracking, and the complicated decisions now facing individuals and nation states in terms of sustainable energy choices.

As we have done before, we will compile a set of teacher notes that may help you as you use the textbook.  We also welcome references to articles, films, and blogs that may have inspired you or your students. Over the next few months, we will post some of the exercises to give you a sense of the changes. We are grateful for your support and hope you find the new edition as workable and engaging as the previous editions. The new edition will be available in September 2020.

Kim Brown, 2019

Permanent link to this article: https://www.introtoglobalstudies.com/2019/09/the-forthcoming-third-edition/