On issues that affect us all

A global issue, as defined by wikipedia, is a broad description that is often used to explain matters of great social concern that affect human populations locally and that are shared among diverse human societies within the global community. The United Nations (UN), the World Bank and many organisations and institutions are involved in addressing many weighty global issues such as Ageing, Agriculture, AIDS, Atomic Energy, Children, Disarmament, Environment, Food, Governance, Health, Human Rights, and Terrorism.
To comprehend these critical issues can prove to be quite arduous for many of us.
However, there are many websites which provide summary overviews of these pressing and very important issues. Internationally renowned organisations among them are the World Bank and the United Nations. The World Bank, at http://web.worldbank.org, offers the Global Issues Seminar Series (GISS) to promote better understanding of global issues and to generate debate among senior undergraduate and graduate students of social sciences, international development, public policy and business.

It is a great web resource to understand global issues, but, unfortunately, we are informed that this series, directed by Maya Brahmam and coordinated by Melissa Nitsch, is being discontinued this year! The other international organisation, the United Nations, offers an overview on these global issues, at http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/. It is indeed a very comprehensive coverage of global issues, with lots of links to other resources, however, the webpages remain inaccessible on occasion as there are too many redirects which can be resolved only by letting third-party cookies in.

Quite a good number of websites in the ‘private’ domain are doing an admirable job in connecting people to the issues that matter. These provide access to online resources, tools and opportunities for collaboration that are proving useful to make a lasting impact in global communities.

Websites

Let’s take a look at a few of them – Taking IT Global (TIG) at http://www.tigweb.org/global-issues/ connects people to the issues that matter to them most and to the online resources, tools and opportunities for collaboration. The interactive resources let TIG members to generate their own content through the Global Issues’ Group Blogs, and discussion boards. Founded in 1999, this award-winning website is one of the leading social networks for global citizenship, bringing together over 3,40,000 members and more than 22,000 non-profit organisations. The TIG programme serves over 2,400 schools in 117 countries with professional development, engaging lesson plans, and collaborative global projects.

The Global Issues hosted at http://www.globalissues.org, a laudable single-handed effort of Anup Shah, looks into the social, political, economic and environmental issues and aims to show how most issues are inter-related.

There are over 550 articles on this site, mostly written by Anup himself, and the issues range from trade, poverty and globalisation, to human rights, geopolitics, the environment, and much more. Spread over these articles, there are over 7,000 links to external articles, websites, reports and analysis to help provide credence to the arguments made on this website.

Anup Shah, who grew up and studied in the UK, started this website in 1998 as he felt most global issues are misrepresented in the mainstream for various reasons. He helps us understand how we got to where we are today and contemplate on where we are headed, unless we do something, right now.

Courses

Many universities around the world offer courses in Global Studies which incorporate transnational and local trends in its curriculum. Global Studies should not be confused with International Studies as there is a fundamental difference between them.
International Studies generally look at exchanges between states, multilateral or bilateral agreements, diplomacy and how issues are handled between two or more states. However, Global Studies focus on globally shared issues like the preservation of culture and environment, movements of people and the effects of globalisation.

 Global Studies is a new field that has arisen due to the difficulties of understanding many of the world’s pressing issues within the confines of traditional academic disciplines. Primarily, it aims for an integrated, multidisciplinary and critical understanding of social, political, economic and cultural phenomena in the world at large.

The learning outcomes for  Global Studies vary, and would depend upon the institute’s objectives. However, there are some generic outcomes that students are expected to develop over the duration of study. These include: Cultural awareness, Ability to think globally and locally, Skills in research and analysis, Awareness of current affairs, Ability to communicate effectively in a range of situations.

Here are some website links of institutions around the world which offer Global Studies courses:

- http://www.uni.wroc.pl/ (Poland),
- http://www2.lse.ac.uk/home.aspx (UK),
- http://www.sciences-po.fr/portail/ (France)
- http://www.uni-leipzig.de/gesi/emgs/ (Germany)
- http://www.globalstudies.illinois.edu (USA)
- http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/CIE/GS/whatisGS.htm (USA)
- http://www.ucis.pitt.edu/global/about.html (USA)
- http://www.westga.edu/~global01/about.htm (USA)
- http://www3.sdstate.edu/Academics/CollegeOfArtsAndSciences/GlobalStudies... (USA)

The job prospects after graduating with a degree in Global Studies are varied. The career path may include entering into international relations, trade, foreign affairs, diplomacy, politics, local government, environmental research and planning and international development.

Scholars and educators in Asia who wish to contribute to the development of Global Studies as a research and teaching field would do well to get in touch with the Asia Association for Global Studies (www.asia-globalstudies.org). Founded in 2005, the AAGS is a non-profit, non-partisan organisation that promotes the research and teaching of Global Studies in Asia.

The Asia Association for Global Studies also is an open platform for the expression of regional opinions and viewpoints that might otherwise go unheard in the English-speaking world. Its main focus is on Asia’s changing international status and the impact of globalisation on the continent.

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