MERS COV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) first appeared in Saudi Arabia in 2012. This disease is caused by a corona-virus, much like the SARS epidemic in 2003. A great deal of work was done early in the epidemic to identify the original host for this virus. Although there is a great deal of evidence associating the virus with camels, which are also infected, it now seems that the original host may be the Egyptian tomb bat, an appropriately scary name for a disease vector. Given that many other viruses seem to have bats as their original hosts, this would be unsurprising if true. The disease is a respiratory virus, which causes difficulty breathing, coughing, and fatigue. Roughly 40% of patients die.
Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/04/mers-the-next-pandemic/
Modern Western society is fascinated with the idea of collapse, particularly in the United States. People watch Doomsday Preppers, follow blogs on Peak Oil, and think about what their world would look like if banks failed. Even before the Club of Rome’s report in the 1970s, many scholars have long warned about modern civilization’s over-reliance on non-renewable resources, minerals and fuels. There is a faction within the environmental movement now that warns of collapse with such intensity that its members almost appear to desire it. When people talk about the collapse of a great civilization, they typically reach back to ancient Rome. In my class “Foundations of Global Studies Theory” course I use a blog post by Ugo Bardi called “Peak Civilization: the Fall of the Roman Empire,” which always sparks interesting conversations about energy in our modern world.
Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/04/book-review-of-eric-clines-1177/
In an earlier post, I talked about the move to decriminalizing marijuana in the Americas. What struck me last August how quickly this idea has gained political momentum, both within the United States and internationally. In the United States, medical marijuana is legal in 40% of states, while the next state to fully legalize the drug for recreational use may be Alaska. A recent article in the Washington Post examines the impact that this trend is having both in the United States and in Mexico. On the positive side, in Sinaloa the demand for marijuana has collapsed, with current prices just a quarter of what they were five years ago. Nick Miroff quotes one Mexican farmer about this economic transformation: ““It’s not worth it anymore,” said Rodrigo Silla, 50, a lifelong cannabis farmer who said he couldn’t remember the last time his family and others in their tiny hamlet gave up growing mota. “I wish the Americans would stop with this legalization.’” While this economic change should weaken the power of the major drug cartels, it has also had an unintended consequence: Mexican farmers are transitioning to opium, which is used to produce heroin. According to the article, Mexican cartels have adopted heroin as their key product, and they are pushing near treatment centers in the United States.
Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/04/falling-demand-for-mexican-marijuana/
When I did my doctoral research in Brazil during the 1990s there was a pervasive fear of the police. I remember once watching as the police hunted someone who had gone into hiding, while I sat safely in a tram in central Rio de Janeiro. As the police poked into alleys and boxes, the other passengers had a look of disgust on their face, while the people on the street looked terrified. I escaped any serious crime while living in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and 1993. But I knew many people who had stories about carjackings, muggings and worse. When I did fieldwork in Sao Paulo in 2005 for my book in HIV in Latin America, I interviewed drug traffickers and users, most of whom were using crack, although injecting drugs were also common amongst an older generation of drug users. I went into the favelas, many of which were totally under the control of the drug lords at that time. One day I was at an NGO that did harm mitigation work around drugs. We were supposed to work in a favela that afternoon, but then a phone call came. The drug lords had closed the favela to protest some action that the government had taken, and nobody could enter it that day.
Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/04/brazils-nobody-deserves-to-be-raped-campaign/
I’m teaching an “Introduction to International Studies” course this quarter, and I began by talking about colonialism
and its legacy. As part of this discussion, I talked about the psychological and educational legacies of the imperial period, including how it has shaped our modern world view. I then showed the class three different maps: a Mercator map, a Hobo-Dyer projection, and a map that had south at the top. After class a student shared a link with me, which showed an episode of West Wing, and a map of Africa with the U.S., India and China (amongst others) within it. Here was exactly the exercise I had done with the students, only with much more humor. Thanks to my student Colleen for sharing this, and Rollie Williams for his post, “We have been misled by an erroneous map of the world for 500 years.” Want to see even more maps? Look here.
Shawn Smallman, Portland State University
Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/04/maps-and-politics/
Akash Kapur’s new book, India Becoming, in some respects is reminiscent of Oscar Lewis’s classic work, Five Families, which used the stories of a small group of Mexican families to explore poverty in that nation. Kapur uses detailed interviews with a series of individuals to explore major transformations sweeping India: the decline of agriculture, the rise of the information economy, and urbanization. The key theme of this well-written and engaging book is the human costs that this transformation entails. Throughout the work Kapur tries to show that development destroys as it creates, so that people have to make difficult choices throughout this transformation. This is clear in multiple areas. With gender relations, women have new opportunities that they must balance against obligations, in a manner familiar to Western culture. Traditional landowners face the loss of their power, while low status Dalits (once called untouchables) embrace new opportunities, in an urban context in which wealth can matter more than birth.
Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/03/book-review-of-akash-kapurs-india-becoming/
The Fukushima nuclear disaster is so recent that it’s been difficult to have a nuanced and thorough perspective on this event. Mark Willacy’s history attempts to tell the story of Fukushima through the stories of not only the people who lived in the area, but also the senior government officials who dealt with the crisis. Willacy has a deep knowledge of Japan, and had visited the area hit by the tsunami a year before the disaster. One of the strengths of the work is the extensive interviews Willacy undertook to build a detailed image of complex events. By using the techniques of narrative non-fiction, his book conveys information largely by showing the reader through scenes, which helps to show why data matters. With his deep knowledge of contemporary Japan, and his detailed interviews, Willacy creates a beautifully written and detailed account of this disaster.
Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/03/a-book-review-of-mark-willacys-fukushima/
I just attended an excellent conference on Global Studies pedagogy at St. Cloud State in Minnesota. One challenge that faculty in the field discussed is that that our courses can too quickly adopt a “global problems” approach. This encourages students to become overwhelmed by the scale of global issues, and to view the world as a problematic and dangerous place. This is unlikely to either lead them to want to dive deeper into Global Studies or to do Study Abroad. For this reason, it’s important to focus not only on issues but also solutions. When covering key global problems -such as environmental issues- I try to also include models, such as Curitiba’s urban planning, or Bogota’s amazing bus system. I also think that it’s good to not forget positive news, even when focusing on deforestation or ethnic conflict. Once students have a sense that there’s hope, they are more inclined to focus on environmental issues or conflict resolution.
Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/03/hope-and-new-species/
Our program recently revisited its learning outcomes for our students. I think that it’s important for our students to be familiar with these learning outcomes, so I hand it out with the syllabus at the start of every class. Shawn Smallman, Portland State University
Learning Outcomes for International Studies at Portland State University.
Core Learning Outcome: Students will demonstrate an understanding of world cultures, politics, and economics, within the context of globalization, as well as developing the skills and attitudes to function as “global citizens.”
Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/02/learning-outcomes-for-international-studies-majors-at-portland-state-university/
One of the challenges when working with internationalization is to learn what resources already exist and where you can look for models. I’ve created a list of key websites that provide links to awards, resources, and white papers. In particular I recommend the outstanding work being done by ACE.
American Council on Education, Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement
This probably represents the single best, sustained effort to think about internationalization in a comprehensive manner.
Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/02/resources-for-internationalization/