Spring 2014’s Gone Global

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2014 year of the horse comes galloping in with four courses to teach this spring semester. Thankfully two of the courses will be overlapping thematically with a focus on globalization and cosmopolitanism, one of which is a freshman composition course. And just to ensure that all the muscles get stretched, yours truly is also leading two senior capstone courses for graduating students to prepare for their exit interviews and compile their e-portfolios. For a peek at what yours truly will be doing in the classroom, have a go at the course titles and descriptions below with the required course texts pictured above.

Looks to be another busy semester at full speed ahead!

LIBERAL & CIVIC STUDIES 123: MODERN GLOBAL ISSUES

Required readings

  • F. Lechner, Globalization: The Making of World Society, Wiley & Blackwell, 2009.
  • Fareed Zakaria, The Post-American World: Release 2.0, Norton, 2012.
  • Robyn Magalit Rodriguez, Migrants for Export, University of Minnesota Press, 2010.

*In regards to electronic versions of texts and tablet devices, students are expected to reference the same pages from the editions listed above. If a student is unable to match page references to the class text, his/her participation grade will be greatly affected.

Supplemental Materials

  • The Learning (documentary film), PBS, 2011.
  • Additional articles, clips and videos posted on Moodle.
  • Three-ring binder for free-writes composed both in and outside of class.

Course Description

A course on globalization would be incomplete without critical engagement with the world’s poor. This course introduces students to the concept of the Third World. We examine its historical evolution from Cold War ideology to current neo-liberalism. We go on to investigate the concept of “internal Third Worlds” as a way to move beyond the binary of First/Third worlds—rich/poor, haves/have-nots. The aim of this course is to explore whether or not First and Third Worlds are really two separate entities existing on two different planes. In other words, are the power centers of the rich world and the underdevelopment of the poor separate from each other or are they two sides of the same coin? Do third world conditions exist in the United States and vice-versa? We examine how the “jigsaw puzzle” of the world economic system is very much interrelated, interconnected and codependent. Globalization has sped up the integration of the two worlds at such a rapid rate that it is now commonplace to find oneself simultaneously in the First and Third World in virtually any location around the globe. Some of the questions explored throughout the semester are:

  • What are the consequences of radically different worlds coexisting in the same space and time?
  • What does the degree of separation between the rich and poor mean for a just and stable society?
  • How do the poor respond to their economic and political marginalization?
  • What is the role of nationalism in an increasingly globalized world?
  • What are the specific costs of global inequality and how do we assess these costs?
  • What is the role of free markets in solving numerous problems associated with globalization, i.e. global warming?
  • What are the possibilities of a global democracy? Is it something we should strive for?
  • How do individual countries and the collective global community respond to social injustice?
  • What role does social, economic, political and environmental injustice play in international diplomacy?

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ENGLISH 5: Argument & Research

 

“Citizens of the World”

What is this thing called “Culture”? From iPhones to Islam, we’re inundated with icons and ideals. How do we distinguish between a Warhol and Warhol’s fifteen minutes? How do we partake in OXFAM and of apple pie? We’ll discuss the manifestations of “Culture” both on the home front and in the world at large, and see if we can spot ourselves among the crowd.

Required Texts:

  • The Little Brown Handbook
  • Hubbach, S. Writing Research Papers Across the Curriculum. 5th Ed. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2005.
  • Appiah, Kwame Anthony. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. NY: NY: WW. Norton & Company, 2006.
  • Jen, Gish. Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and the Interdependent Self.
  • Minha, Trinh T. Elsewhere Within Here. Routledge,
  • Supplemental handouts will be posted on Moodle

Recommended Texts:

  • The American Heritage Dictionary

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Liberal & Civic Studies 130:

“SENIOR CAPSTONE II- ASSESSMENT AND PORTFOLIO”

 

Required Course Materials: 1 Spiral Notebook for in-class work, free-writes, and journal

Course Description

Welcome to L&CS 124, and congratulations on entering your senior year! This course is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on what you have learned & experienced, and how you have grown over the course of your L&CS and Saint Mary’s College education.  As an interdisciplinary program that seeks to educate the whole person, and strives to develop self-awareness, ethical values, and habits of social responsibility, it is important for our students that they take the time to authentically reflect and assess their development.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Students will engage in a critical evaluation of their overall academic performance.
  2. Students will demonstrate self-awareness and be able to discuss their ethical value system and habits of social responsibility.
  3. Students will be able to articulate their thoughtful beliefs and attitudes about ethnic, racial, social-class, and gender inequalities manifested in our society.
  4. Students will write a comprehensive self-assessment that addresses academic, service-learning, personal growth and future personal/professional goals.

 

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Review of Kwame Anthony Appiah’s Cosmopolitanism

From The GoodReads Review:

Pico Iyer opened his New York Times review of Yiyun Li’s latest novel, The Vagrants saying:

All the world’s stories are America’s stories now, and this constant glory of our literature; as never before in our lifetimes, so many histories flooding into America, and so many Americans going out to claim the world as an extension of their homes, that our imaginations are being stretched (one hopes) along with the words we use, the wisdoms we inhabit, the sounds and philosophies we can begin to reinvent. What Barack Obama represents on the global stage, those of his generation and younger (from Kenya, from the Dominican Republic, from Korea) are bringing to life on the planetary page.

From our Latino landscapers, to our South or South East Asian nurse technicians, to our U.S. Banks inextricably intertwined with international banks, as Gertrude Stein said, “there is no there there” because “there” is here, and the other is us. The world is hot, flat, and crowded, so says Tom Friedmann. How do we stay cool, calm, and compassionate? Kwame Anthony Appiah proposes a philosophy and world view in his book, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, which outlines how we can stretch our imaginations, why we should inhabit the sounds and philosophies different from our own, and how we can reinvent ourselves and our worldview while we struggle to co-exist on this shrinking, ozone-depleted, big, blue ball. Like our 44th president and like most people of younger generations, including myself, Appiah is of mixed race. His mother, English, his father from Ghana, Appiah was raised in his father’s homeland and currently teaches at Princeton University. In Cosmpolitanism he speaks compassionately and honestly about pluralism; his philosophy obviously and insightfully infused with his own multiracial, multi-cultural, and multi-national heritage.

Filled with critical examinations about how we are all inter-connected, whether we like it or not, debates on cultural property, evaluations of facts versus faith, and questions against our own prized rationalism, Appiah succinctly defines his philosophy of Cosmopolitanism at the beginning of the text as: “the one thought that cosmopolitans share is that no local loyalty can ever justify forgetting that each human being has responsibilites to every other.” Though he warns at the beginning, “There’s a sense in which cosmopolitanism is the name not of the solution but of the challenge.” His philosophical treatise is crammed with enlightened and engaging anecdotes about his father’s tribe, the Akan, and stories he’s heard from colleagues or lifted from the news. Appiah, overall, makes a strong case in explaining his philosophical ideals, yet at the conclusion he problematizes his thesis when he tries to argue why we should be responsible for another life clear across the big blue ball.

In the concluding chapter he bookends his thesis with a reference to a Balzac story, Pere Goirot, and this fiction is his last scrap of evidence to reason a pressing yet stubbornly abstract argument. Why use fiction as support, especially when trying to convince us to make living, breathing connections across a very real and often volatilely physical world? As a fiction writer, I’m honored that a philosopher would turn to story-telling and invoke, therefore virtually vindicate a genre often excused as anachronistic entertainment. Appiah pays tribute to the magic that stories conjure. He praises how fiction allows us to imagine alternatives in what could otherwise be a cold and unforgiving world. Still, this nod to stories and their import is at the cost of his entire thesis, and, as a Composition instructor, as well, in the end, his case doesn’t hold water if he’s going to refer to the make-believe.

Students in my Argument & Research were assigned to read and write about Appiah’s book, and they grappled with complex ideas, seeming to be genuinely interested in the principles Appiah critiqued and proposed. Inspired by Appiah’s sincere and compassionate treatise, I was able to develop some very creative and urgently relevant formal writing assignments. As a class, we were all humbled by the complexity and diversity of humanity, and, as Appiah so gently nudged us to do, we actively felt more connected to the world at large. Mission accomplished!