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Hate, loss and Neoliberalism

I’ve been teaching a “Foundations of Global Studies Theory” course for a few years. I begin the course with a section on classical and modern liberalism, before moving to neoliberalism, because liberalism is a foundational theory for most issues in Global Studies. What has struck me over the years is how little ideological attraction most students feel towards neoliberalism. Although I have taught the class multiple times, I have only ever had a single student who was an ardent proponent of neoliberalism. They also wrote one of the best papers that I’ve ever received, and are now working in an excellent job in the financial sector. Still, most of my students have an almost visceral distaste for neoliberalism, and this has strengthened over time. …

Quiz on Digital Globalization

I’m teaching a class on Digital Globalization this winter quarter at Portland State. The course will be fully online, thanks to great support from Vince Schreck, a course designer in OAI, and Linda Absher, the librarian who has tracked down countless documentaries to use as streaming videos, and helped to locate other key resources. Over the first six weeks the students will explore three main topics (Digital Culture; Transformation and Institutions; Security, Privacy and the Nation-State) before spending three weeks on individualized study. The final week of the course will consist of students sharing a Digital Artifact, such as a slideshow or video. I always learn far more from my students than they learn from me, and that’s particularly true with these final presentations. I’ve been working on a brief quiz on digital literacy, which takes five minutes to complete. Are you a cyber expert, who knows about Bitcoin, the Dark Web, the Sharing Economy, MOOCs, Wikileaks, Snowden, and social media? You can take the quiz here to find out.

Shawn Smallman, Portland State University.

Thank you to the Oregon Consular Corps

Wonde Nevens, Shawn Smallman and Karen Carillo at the Oregon Consular Corps Awards Event, Arlington Club, February 10, 2015
Wonde Nevens, Shawn Smallman and Karen Carillo at the Oregon Consular Corps Awards Event, Arlington Club, February 10, 2015

This February I attended a scholarship awards event hosted by the Oregon Consular Corps at the Arlington Club in Portland. Two International Studies Majors at PSU, Wonde Nevens and Karen Carillo, were scholarship award winners. At the end of the event a past award winner talked about how funds from this scholarship had enabled them to do a study abroad course in Argentina, which had a deep impact on their plans for the future. It’s amazing how these funds can have an enduring effect on students’ lives. I want to thank the Oregon Consular Corps for their generosity, as well as the hard work that they put into reviewing applications from deserving candidates. I also want to thank the INTL faculty who reviewed the applicants’ files, Evguenia Davidova and Stephen Frenkel. Most of all, I want to give my congratulations to Wonde and Karen.

Shawn Smallman, Portland State University

New Map of MERS

European Centre for Disease and Infection Control map of MERS, November 2014
European Centre for Disease and Infection Control map of MERS, November 2014

I’ve discussed MERS before in this blog, but this virus has faded from public attention as Ebola has become a major health crisis in West Africa. This recent map by the European Centre for Disease and Infection Control, however, makes clear why MERS remains a global health challenge.

Shawn Smallman, Portland State University

The Seven Most Read Posts Last Month

I’m always curious to see what posts people are reading on the blog, and where readers are from. Last month, the most viewed post was a book review of Eden Robinson’s novel Monkey Beach, a gothic tale set in an indigenous community in coastal BC. When I wrote that post I worried that it would be too distant from the theme of this blog to attract readers. The second most read post looked at lost nuclear weapons in Canada. Visits to this one post were up nearly 300%, which suggests that people have a sudden interest in this topic, perhaps because there was news coverage of this topic recently? Most of the blog’s readership is in the United States (78%), so it struck me as unusual for both of the top posts to focus on Canadian issues. The third most read post came as no surprise, since I would expect readers to be interested in a syllabus for the “Introduction to International Studies” class. The fourth most viewed post was a book review of Dipesh Chakrabarty’s work, Provincializing Europe; this also made sense because book reviews tend to receive more hits than other posts, and Chakrabarty’s work is a key text in postcolonial theory. The fifth most popular post was a map of U.S. security interests. I often use this map in my introductory class when I am talking about competing theories of security. It tends to foster a good class discussion, and I hope that it has been useful for other faculty. The sixth most viewed post was on the mystery of Witches’ Broom and Bioterrorism in Brazil. Finally, the seventh most read post looked at a spectacular financial fraud in 1920s Portugal. While a story of a daring crime, I wouldn’t have guessed that early twentieth century Portuguese events could attract more readers than contemporary issues. …

Internationalizing the curriculum: Stanley Katz’s thoughts

"3d Earth" by chrisroll
“3d Earth” by chrisroll

Stanley Katz has an intriguing articled titled “Borderline Ignorance: Why have efforts to internationalize the curriculum stalled?” in a recent issue of the Chronicle Review. Katz starts by talking about the current drive to globalize the curriculum, and a recent AACU initiative that called for “an education for the stewardship of the global commons.” While AACU’s initiative is both detailed and ambitious, Katz argues that few institutions are likely to take on this task. It’s not that internationalizing the curriculum is not important. Rather, Katz argues, it is the larger political and cultural context. He first talks about how the Cold War led Western academic institutions to internationalize their curriculum, by encouraging study abroad and academic programs that focused on newly important global regions. Katz’s argument, however, is that this impetus began to fade with the end of the Cold War, and a cultural backlash in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. In this sense, he suggests, the current political climate makes such work difficult. As Katz points out, in the United States Title Vi and Title VIII programs have decreased funding, at the same time that some major private donors have also pulled back from financing international work. …

Careers for International and Global Studies Majors

When Kim Brown and I were working on the book, we were particularly committed to writing the final chapter on careers. We had both spent many years advising students, and we know the questions that they had about employment, and that students couldn’t find the answers in existing textbooks. We tried to map out the career paths that students could take, and the choices that these paths entailed. But something strange happened. As the book went through different iterations, some external reviewers of the text had a strong reaction to that chapter, which they viewed as too “vocational.” Yet Kim and I held fast, because we believed that this chapter was critical for students. Having taught with this text now, I can attest that this is the chapter that students most value, as students have even come up to me to thank me for including that section in the text. …

Indigenous Peoples in International and Global Studies

A "weetigo" dance, photographed at the Sweet Grass Reserve in 1939: Saskatchewan Archive Board, R-A7671.

I am fortunate to be on sabbatical this year, thanks to the generous support of the Ruth Landes Memorial Fund at the Reed Foundation. I am studying how colonialism impacted Algonquian peoples in Canada, particularly women, by examining a particular form of spirit transformation called the windigo. In some respects, I believe that windigo cases acted like the Salem witch trials, in that they created a record of a society under stress, in this case of its encounter with colonialism. Over the course of four centuries, different outside actors created narratives around the windigo in order to assert their power over Algonquian peoples. In my book, I’ll be using Algonquian oral narratives, fur-trade records, missionary accounts, court cases and psychological case files to consider how the French, English and Canadian states interacted with different Algonquian nations through time. …

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