Oct 21

Columbia Prediction of Infectious Diseases

Map of outbreaks of the Ebola virus in Africa by strain and confirmed contractions. Created by: Zach Orecchio, University of South Florida Geography Dep.

Map of outbreaks of the Ebola virus in Africa by strain and confirmed contractions.
Created by: Zach Orecchio, University of South Florida Geography Dep, Obtained from Wikipedia, Creative Commons.

One of the major questions that international agencies and governments have been wrestling with is the likely future of the Ebola epidemic in Africa. Perhaps the best website for these predictions is the Columbia Prediction of Infectious Diseases site. Unfortunately, despite the heroic efforts currently being made in West Africa, the curve towards mid-November shows a steady increase. Of course, there are success stories as well, as Nigeria has recently been declared Ebola-free. But this site indicates the scale of the challenge that world currently faces. The website is also useful for tracking yearly influenza epidemics.

At this date, a great deal rides on the outcome of Ebola vaccine trials. The Canadian government yesterday sent 800 vials of experimental vaccine to the WHO, for this organization to distribute as it sees best. The world is also increasing the supplies and manpower provided to West Africa. It is now clear that everyone underestimated the dangers of this outbreak, because Ebola had been controlled before. What has been different has been that this outbreak is taking place in an urban setting.

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Shawn Smallman, Portland State University

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/10/columbia-prediction-of-infectious-diseases/

Oct 20

International Pandemics: An infographic

I was recently asked to share this great infographic, so I am posting it here. Many thanks to the folks at “Nursing School Hub.”

Shawn Smallman, Portland State University

Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/10/international-pandemics-an-infographic/

Oct 18

Second Edition of the Textbook

After a great deal of work, the second edition of our Introduction to International and Global Studies textbook is available for course adoption this January. Curious to take a look? Click here. Once you are on the website, you can “look inside” within the image of the textbook on the left. Exam/desk copies will also be available from the press this January as well.

Shawn Smallman, Portland State University

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/10/second-edition-of-the-textbook/

Oct 17

International Studies versus Global Studies

NASA image: NASA Identifier: sts040-73-037

NASA image: NASA Identifier: sts040-73-037

I’ve just done a peer review of an outstanding article on the field of International Studies, which again raised the question of the difference between International and Global Studies. Although I’ve touched on this topic before it is worth revisiting this issue, because the differences are significant. International Studies is a field that emerged within the parent discipline of International Relations within Political Science. The field developed because scholars were dissatisfied with the heavy focus on inter-state relations, as well as a stress on quantitative methodology. It’s important to note that the positivist approach that was so powerful in the United States (especially in the fifties and sixties) was never as influential in Canada and Europe. Still, within the United States, the field of International Studies still bears signs of its birth from Political Science. Those scholars who visit the International Studies Association conference for the first time are likely to be struck not only by its sheer size, but also by the dominance of traditional social science methodology. If you read the two major journals in the field -International Studies Review and International Studies Quarterly- they are dominated by International Relations scholarship from classical Political Science. Many articles focus on Realism, Constructivism and Liberalism in IR. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/10/international-studies-versus-global-studies/

Oct 15

Sumner and Tribe’s International Development Studies

"View Of Kaeng Krachan Dam,petchaburi Province,thailand" by cbenjasuwan at freedigitalphotos.net

“View Of Kaeng Krachan Dam, Petchaburi Province, Thailand” by cbenjasuwan at freedigitalphotos.net

Andy Sumner and Michael Tribe’s International Development Studies: Theories and Methods in Research and Practice is a brief overview of the field in a textbook format. The author’s intent is to introduce the reader to key ideas and debates in development studies. The study begins by asking what is the meaning of development, and then discusses the history of the term. Subsequent chapters are concerned with large questions, such as “What can we `Know’ in Development Studies?” Because the book has a focus on research and methods, the book includes a chapter on how we should define rigor, and how research should shape practice. The chapters follow a standard format, which includes numbered sub-headings and brief summaries at the end of every chapter. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/10/sumner-and-tribes-international-development-studies/

Oct 15

Free MOOCs on World War One

Although I teach both hybrid and online classes, I haven’t yet taken a MOOC, which is a free online class made available to a large number of people. Now the BBC has worked with four British universities to make available four MOOCs on World War One, and I’m thinking about joining. Curious too? You can sign up here.

Professor Smallman, Portland State University

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/10/free-moocs-on-world-war-one/

Oct 15

Dangerous Spirits Forthcoming

Dangerous Spirits, forthcoming from Heritage House.

Dangerous Spirits, forthcoming from Heritage House.

My work on the windigo, an evil spirit in Northern Algonquian traditions, will be published by Heritage House in Canada this November, and in the United States this spring. We’ve now finalized the book blurb:

The windigo is a cannibal spirit prevalent in the traditional
narratives of the Algonquian peoples of North America. From Labrador in the north
to Virginia in the south, and from Nova Scotia in the east to the Rocky Mountains
in the west, this phenomenon has been discussed, feared, and interpreted in different
ways for centuries. Dangerous Spirits tells the story of how belief in the windigo
clashed with the new world order that came about after European contact.
Dismissing the belief as superstitious, many early explorers, traders, and missionaries
failed to understand the complexity and power of the windigo—both as
a symbol and as a threat to the physical safety of a community. Yet, judging by the
volume of journal entries, police records, court transcripts, and other written documents describing windigo cases witnessed by or recounted to Euro-Canadians over Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/10/dangerous-spirits-forthcoming/

Oct 09

Ebola and Air Travel

ID-100153388One of the most controversial questions during the current Ebola outbreak has been whether restricting air travel to West Africa is more of a help or a hindrance. There have been passionate arguments on both sides, and the question has become politicized. For a balanced look at the question, see this recent National Geographic article. I found some of the better comments on this piece to be nearly as enlightening as the article itself. The bottom line is that there are pros and cons to both policies, which need to be acknowledged by each side in the debate. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/10/ebola-and-air-travel/

Oct 08

Ebola: how the international community failed to respond in time

This morning we learned that sad news that Thomas Eric Duncan has died in Ebola in Texas. While much of the recent coverage of Ebola has focused on the United States, an outstanding piece in the Washington Post (Out of Control: How the World’s Health Organizations failed to stop the Ebola disaster) provides an excellent history of the Ebola outbreak. Through interviews with medical personnel in West Africa, it describes how it was that the international community failed to intervene until too late.

Prof. Smallman, International Studies, Portland State University.

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/10/ebola-how-the-international-community-failed-to-respond-in-time/

Oct 07

What do we know about Ebola?

"Airline Route On World Map" by digitalart at freedigitalphotos.com

“Airline Route On World Map” by digitalart at freedigitalphotos.com

One of the questions now being raised is whether public health decisions are being based on sound science. At the center of this debate is the question of testing travelers from affected countries for fever, which some infectious disease researchers -and people in the countries themselves- argue is unlikely to be successful. But there is also the larger question of how much we know about the transmission of the virus. For a good discussion of these issues, see David William’s article in the “LA Times.” Williams interviewed C.J. Peters, a senior and respected figure in the field of infectious disease, who points out what we still don’t know about this virus.

Shawn Smallman

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/10/what-do-we-know-about-ebola/

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