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/

On languages and age

What is the value of language study, both for people and for societies? I’ve been studying Chinese, and like to take a standard Chinese test for language learning called the HSK to measure my progress. This spring I took the test at my university’s excellent Confucius Institute. The room was filled with children, and their patient parents who were trying to soothe their text anxiety. There was one person around 18 taking his HSK 4 exam. And then there was me, a fifty-two year old male. Apparently language learning is mainly for young children. Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: https://www.introtoglobalstudies.com/2019/08/on-languages/

Vaccine refusal

Vaccine refusal is one of the most difficult health problems of our age. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo a terrible Ebola epidemic is raging -and has just had its first case in the major city of Goma- despite the existence of an effective vaccine. There have been outbreaks of violence directed against public health workers, which have made fighting the outbreak infinitely more difficult. But these workers are not alone. In Pakistan and Afghanistan polio cases are rising, and public health workers have faced threats, stigma and violence as well. Polio is appearing in tests in neighboring countries now, from southwestern China to Iran. While it’s easy to portray the people in these countries who refuse vaccination as being ignorant or uneducated, the truth is that in the United States, Canada and Europe we have a similar problem with vaccine refusal. As I discussed in another post, there was recently an outbreak of measles near Portland, Oregon, which was driven by low-vaccination rates. Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: https://www.introtoglobalstudies.com/2019/08/vaccine-refusal/

Change and the Liberal Arts

 

The seven liberal arts from Hortus Deliciarum, Die Philosophie mit den sieben freien Künsten of Herrad of Landsberg. Date circa 1180. Wikipedia Commons.

Michael Lind has a book review in the National Interest that is relevant far beyond the field of International Relations. In this well-written essay Lind discusses Michael Desch’s recent book Cult of the Irrelevant. When I was in graduate school, thinkers such as Paul Kennedy would travel to Washington, DC to talk to members of Congress. Those days are long gone, and in general academics’ influence over policy making in International Relations has declined steadily. In the current era of populism and nationalism it would be easy to depict this state of affairs as being a symptom of the anti-intellectualism of American society. But the reality is that this trend extends beyond the United States. Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: https://www.introtoglobalstudies.com/2019/07/the-precious-liberal-arts/

How China views the Americas

How people in different nations view each other is shaped by history, film, propaganda and the media. Of course polling data and surveys are key tools to get at popular perceptions globally. Still, there is also a simpler tool that yields surprising results: web search queries. Warner Brown has an interesting article, “Mapped: Chinese Stereotypes of the Americas,” in Foreign Policy. It provides a look into which questions Chinese people think of when they think about the Americas. Who know that Argentina had sunk a Chinese fishing boat? Or that Suriname was on China’s radar?

Shawn Smallman, 2019

Permanent link to this article: https://www.introtoglobalstudies.com/2019/07/how-china-views-the-americas/

Pass the Olive Oil, Please

I want to thank Caitlyn Ark for this wonderful blog post, which she wrote based on her experience doing a study-abroad class this summer.

Pass the Olive Oil, Please
The Healthy Diet of a Social Mediterranean, Caitlyn Ark

As I was leaning off the side of our very large, but only slightly crowded, ferry, I watched the gentle crashing of the startlingly wine blue waters below me. Wine deep, wine rich, I thought to myself, which something that the Ancient Greeks, who sailed these same waters, originally coined, intertwining food with the natural landscapes from which they come from.[1] The day was warm, but the kind of warm that drifted down from the bright Mediterranean sun to eventually settle on my shoulders like a soft shawl. I found myself at the bow of our boat, searching for the small nip of the wind to kick up my hair and offer a slight reprieve from the warm air. The Mediterranean is an oligotrophic sea, meaning it is very low in nutrients, so I was surprised to note that I could see schools of small fish darting around socially near the top of the water, playing a marine version of follow-the-leader. Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: https://www.introtoglobalstudies.com/2019/07/pass-the-olive-oil-please/

Meth and Indigenous communities

Last spring I taught a course on the Global Drug trade. For some reason, cocaine is the drug which draws the most media attention, whether it be in television series such as Narcos, or in novels. Certainly in the United States people think of Latin America when they think of the drug trade. But of course our current drug trade is heavily shaped by the opioid and heroin epidemic, which has its base in the golden triangle of Asia. Fentanyl receives a great deal of media coverage, and China may be the major supplier of this drug. While all of this may sound abstract, when my class covers the opioid epidemic each year the impact of opioids is all too clear, as my students relate histories of family loss and tragedy. The drugs that cause the most suffering -opioids and meth- seldom feature in television series. Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: https://www.introtoglobalstudies.com/2019/07/meth/

Iran, history and War

Last Thursday, June 13, 2019, two tankers traveling in the Gulf of Oman were struck by explosions. The crews of both ships were quickly evacuated, and there was no loss of life onboard. The United States’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo quickly announced that Iran was responsible for these strikes. The U.S. government released military footage that it said showed an Iranian ship removing a limpet mine from the side of one of the tankers. There had been an attack on four other tankers within the last month. The U.S. alleged that Iran was carrying out these assaults because of U.S. pressure regarding the nuclear deal. Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: https://www.introtoglobalstudies.com/2019/06/iran-history-and-war/