Jul 04

Nuclear Aftershocks: A Documentary Review

Photograph of an original painting by Gary Sheehan. Depicted is his version of the scene when scientist(s) observed the world's first nuclear reactor (CP-1) as it became self-sustaining. Source: Wikipedia Commons

Photograph of an original painting by Gary Sheehan. Depicted is his version of the scene when scientist(s) observed the world’s first nuclear reactor (CP-1) as it became self-sustaining. Source: Wikipedia Commons

In my “Introduction to International Studies” class this spring I showed the video “Nuclear Aftershocks,” which my library had in its Streaming Video database, under “Films on Demand.” This 56 minute documentary begins by discussing the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and the global impact that it had. The work also includes the voices of experts who argued that only nuclear power can provide sufficient non-carbon energy to meet the world’s future needs. The video then shifts to the United States, and the Indian Point reactor, which is located dangerously close to New York City. According to the documentary, the plant also supplies about a quarter of the electricity required by the city. The film finishes by returning to Fukushima, and the challenges that Japan faces in cleaning up the disaster, a process that will take decades. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2015/07/nuclear-aftershocks-a-documentary-review/

Jul 01

Charles King, “The Decline of International Studies”

Charles King has an outstanding article in Foreign Affairs titled “The Decline of International Studies.” The core of his argument is that cuts to federal funding programs (especially “Title 6″ funds for regional studies) have saved the U.S. government little money, but have cost much expertise in International Affairs. He also argues that the government is increasingly supporting only research tied to security issues. He also provides evidence that college students are taking fewer language classes than in the recent past. Perhaps equally significant, he also points out that many scholars of “International Relations” do not themselves have a good command of a foreign language. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2015/07/charles-kings-the-decline-of-international-studies/

Jun 25

Dutch Ruling on Climate Change

A Dutch court has required that the government impose mandatory carbon cuts. This is not the first such suit, as others are pending elsewhere in Europe. This article by Lauren McCauley describes the ruling, and the impact that it is likely to have. Environmental groups are now planning to bring similar suits across the globe.

Prof. Smallman, Portland State University

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2015/06/dutch-ruling-on-climate-change/

Jun 22

New Course on Digital Globalization

Globalization Flyer, Winter 2016. The image of Snowden comes from the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which published this photo under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License at https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/about/board/edward-snowden

Globalization Flyer, Winter 2016. The image of Snowden comes from the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which published this photo under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License at https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/about/board/edward-snowden

Now that classes have ended, of course I am excited to work on my course for next winter, when I will be teaching a fully online class on Digital Globalization. The course will be asynchronous, and students may be able to choose the content areas that they wish to focus on: Security, Crime and Privacy; Transformation, Business and Education; or Culture and the Individual. When students login to the course they will take a quiz, which will suggest which area they might want to focus on, and whether they might want to do a group or individual project.

Here is my flyer, which I created using Canva. This is a great way to create visually attractive posters and course flyers. It’s also free, so long as you download your own photos, which the site makes easy to do. The site also has some free photos to use as well. I have no affiliation with Canva; I just want to share a cool tool. See www.canva.com

For a whimsical take on digital globalization (set to the tune of “Video Killed the Radio Star”), please see this music video “Digital Life,” by Amy Burvall of History Teachers. The video starts with the Marshall McLuhan quote, which I’ve stolen for the flyer.

Prof. Smallman, Portland State University

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2015/06/new-course-on-digital-globalization/

Jun 12

MERS in South Korea

Photo of Korea from space by NASA, and obtained from the CIA World Factbook.

Photo of Korea from space by NASA, and obtained from the CIA World Factbook.

I have blogged about MERS before on this site, but this disease has faded from the news for the last year, until the most recent outbreak in South Korea. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is an infectious disease caused by a corona virus, in the same manner as the SARS outbreak of 2003. The disease first appeared in Saudi Arabia in 2012, and has continued to circulate there since. In Saudi Arabia the virus has seemed to spread particularly well in a health care setting. While a number of infected people –many of whom have been health care professionals- have carried the virus to other countries, in every case the outbreak has been contained. The outbreak in Korea has been different because of its scale –eleven people have died and over three thousand have been quarantined- and speed.

South Korean citizens have criticized the government for responding too slowly to the outbreak. One person, for example, broke voluntary quarantine and traveled to China, where he ultimately fell ill. There is no question, however, that South Korea is now taking the outbreak seriously. Over 1,800 schools and daycares are closed, even though the World Health Organization (WHO) says that this measure is unnecessary. An entire small Korean village (approximate population 130) has been placed under quarantine with guards manning checkpoints. The authorities are tracking peoples’ cellphone location to make sure that they are remaining in quarantine, and health authorities are checking on people at their homes. At the time of this writing, it seems as though MERS may have peaked in South Korea, and hopefully will soon begin to fade. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2015/06/mers-in-south-korea/

Jun 10

The top ten posts on the blog

Once a year, I like to look at the most popular blog posts. The blog currently receives a little under 1,700 people a month, but 80% of the people who land on the site “bounce,” which means that they leave the blog almost as soon as they arrive. There are roughly 350 people a month who read posts. Most of these people are from the United States, although there are also readers in Canada, Brazil, Great Britain, India, Kenya, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Germany and Mexico. The top ten blog posts have certain common themes: book reviews are popular, as are posts on theory, literature and sports. I’m really not sure why the latter is the case. People are also fascinated by international mysteries.

Some of you may have also noticed that there is no longer a comment feature on the blog. Sadly, the spam filter was no longer able to deal with the overwhelming number of bots posting to the site. Sometimes there would be an attack, and I’d receive waves of posts to the blog. These would generate mass e-mail notices, each of which would ask me to approve a particular post. UNC decided to disable the comments feature, which has ended this issue, even though I miss hearing peoples’ comments on individual posts.

Here are the top ten posts, based on the most recent data from Google Analytics:

A book review of Dipesh Chakrabarty’s Provincializing Europe

Realism and Human Security: a map of U.S. Security Interests

Introduction to International Studies syllabus

A book review of Dave Zirin, Brazil’s Dance with the Devil

A book review of Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach

What is International or Global Studies?

Witches Broom: the mystery of bioterrorism and chocolate in Brazil

Broken Arrow: lost nuclear weapons in Canada

International Studies Quiz

Map of Mexican Drug Cartels

Shawn Smallman, Portland State University

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2015/06/the-top-ten-posts-on-the-blog/

Jun 01

Fort McKay and the Canadian Oil Sands

Years ago I toured the Fort McKay and an Oil Sands production facility. I was struck by the sheer scale of all aspects of the facility: the trucks the size of a small house; the tailings of sulphur, which formed a bright yellow block the size of an apartment building, and the pit, which seemed to stretch to the horizon. The oil company took my group to view some reclaimed tailings, which had been replanted with vegetation, and now had a small band of buffalo. If I remember correctly, the buffalo were cared for by the local aboriginal people.

What the company’s tour guide did not discuss was the issue of water, and the huge pools of contaminated water that no technology can currently clean. While most attention with the oil sands has focused on the issue of carbon, the issue of local environmental destruction is also pressing, and the impact that this industrial scale development has on regional communities. Amongst these communities are the indigenous peoples of the region. Much as is the case with fracking from North Dakota to Texas, how people view environmental issues is often influenced by their economic interests. For this reasons, many aboriginal communities have been divided not only by the Oil Sands, but also by issues of pipelines or mining.

I am teaching an online “Introduction to International Studies” course this quarter, and the most popular course materials have not been articles, podcasts or videos, but rather storyboards. Students love the interactive aspect of these media, which are often also beautiful. The Guardian has an excellent story board on the tar sands, which examines both the environmental and human questions raised by this development, which I highly recommend.

Shawn Smallman, Portland State University.

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2015/06/fort-mckay-and-the-canadian-oil-sands/

May 31

Ellen Wild wins 2015 Arthur Ellis Award

I am a mystery fan, so I am delighted to say that my sister, Ellen Wild, just won the 2015 Arthur Ellis Award for the best unpublished first crime novel in Canada. What is surprising is that this is the same prize that my mother, Phyllis Smallman, won during the very first year that the prize was awarded. Apart from that, the two novels are dramatically different. My mother’s Sherri Travis series is set on the West Coast of Florida, while Ellen set her debut novel, Strange Things Done, in the Yukon. After reading the list of prize winners, I am planning to add many of these books to my summer reading list, while I also look forward to celebrating the publication of Strange Things Done.

Shawn Smallman, Portland State University

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2015/05/ellen-wild-wins-2015-arthur-ellis-award/

May 26

First book review of Dangerous Spirits

"Typical Canadian Shield" by P199, Wikipedia Commons

“Typical Canadian Shield” by P199, Wikipedia Commons

As an author, it’s always exciting (and anxiety provoking) to get your first book review. Nelle Oosterom, the senior editor at Canada’s History, has just reviewed my book Dangerous Spirits: the Windigo in Myth and History. While I was delighted to read such a positive review, there was a deeper meaning for me in this coverage, because Canada’s History came into existence as the Beaver, an official publication of the Hudson’s Bay Company. This journal chronicled the lives of many of the traders whom I discuss in my book. I drew on old articles in the Beaver not only to cover some early windigo cases, but also to document how the idea of the windigo evolved through time. For this reason, I couldn’t be happier that the book’s first review was in this magazine. For me, to have moved from doing research in the Beaver, to reading the book review in Canada’s History, almost felt like coming full circle. Curious to read the book? In the United States you can find it here on Amazon, and in Canada here or at Chapters.

Shawn Smallman, Portland State University.

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2015/05/first-book-review-of-dangerous-spirits/

May 25

Book review of Shigeru Mizuki’s Showa, 1926-1939

Shigeru Mizuki’s Showa: 1926-1939 is a graphic novel that intertwines two stories: 1) the chaotic history of Japan during the 1920s and 30s and 2) the author’s childhood during this same period. The author is remarkable in that he is now 91, but he has a vivid memory of his own childhood during this period. Tragically, he would ultimately lose his arm while fighting for the Japanese army, although this book (the first in a three volume series) does not cover that period in his life. This book is a staggering achievement, both artistically and intellectually, which everyone interested in Asia should read. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2015/05/book-review-of-shigeru-mizukis-showa-1926-1939/

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