Opening the Doors to Global Studies
The first Global Studies course begins over 400 students strong.
Thomas says one of the biggest challenges of having such a large class size is coordinating ways to make sure students have the opportunity to interact with speakers and professors.
The first Global Studies course at UCLA, "Introduction to the phenomenon of globalization" began Monday, April 4, with a lecture by the vice provost of the International Institute, Geoffrey Garrett. The class marks the beginning of the new major in Global Studies.
"What we’ve tried to do here is create and outwardly-looking program," said Garrett. The first course, Global Studies 1, is a “celebration of the founding of this program," he said.
Lead instructor and professor of French and Francophone studies Dominic Thomas says he was thrilled with the first lecture: "This class is the culmination of three years of work, so for all of who participated it was very exciting."
There are 402 students enrolled in the course, an indicator of high interest in the Global Studies major and minor, says International Institute counselor Gaby Solomon. Thomas says these numbers exceeded his expectations for this first-time offerred course.
Jill Schleifer, Director of External Affairs for the Institute, says the high demand for the course was the culmination of a two-month campus-wide marketing project that included Daily Bruin advertising, promotional materials in residence halls and help from the Academic Senate, as well as a clear desire for such a program on the part of UCLA's internationally-aware student body.
"I was thrilled with the campus-wide support of this major. It’s so great to see hardly an empty seat in that whole auditorium." She says that one student she spoke with found the material of the first lecture riveting. "The student was bubbling with enthusiasm and keenly interested in discussing international matters."
While the first lecture was perhaps intimidating to some students, the strength of the course is the fact that it delves into several ways of looking at globalization. "It’s an interdisciplinary class, which is what makes it so unique. For that reason, [Global Studies] is going to be a challenging major."
GS 1 is organized as a series of lectures chosen to introduce three topics: culture and society, governance, and conflict and markets. Speakers include Warren Christopher, the former Secretary of State under President Clinton, Albert Carnesale, Chancellor of UCLA, and Mickey Kantor, the former Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative. All of the course lectures are open to the public.
Thomas says one of the biggest challenges of having such a large class size is coordinating ways to make sure students have the opportunity to interact with speakers and professors. While the course will not have teaching assistants, there will be "open-mike" discussions in which students will have the opportunity to ask questions and offer their own thoughts. Thomas will also meet with students after each lecture and hold "brown-bag" lunches with speakers and students.
"We are trying to find as many ways as possible to interact with students," says Thomas.
The course is held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in De Neve Auditorium. Global Studies, chaired by English professor Ali Behdad, is an interdisciplinary program that combines the specificity of economics and political science with the nuances of studying the changing cultural identity of an increasingly global world. The major also has a summer travel study component and requires language proficiency through the intermediate level.
Globalization’s Changing Face
Garrett’s opening lecture, "Globalization, 9/11, and World Politics," covered the rise of globalization from the late 80s to Sept.11, 2001, and the changes in global culture post-9/11. He said that globalization shifted from an economic trend in the 90s to a clash of cultures brought on, in part, by America’s foreign policies since 9/11.
"International security and foreign policy were literally irrelevant to the 2000 [US] election," said Garrett. Instead, the world economy was foremost in discussions of globalization and markets were the dominant social institution. This is in stark contrast to the 2004 election in which national security and the war in Iraq dominated the campaigns.
Garrett also discussed the extent to which globalization is occurring. He cited statistics that show marked increases in world GDP (gross domestic product), exports, international tourism and Internet use. Garrett said that the fact that “there’s a whole lot of globalization going on” is met by two opposing camps: One says that globalization is having a positive effect culturally and economically. The other sees globalization as a form of American imperialism and a trend that is creating divisions more than bridges between cultures.
Garrett said the truth about globalization is probably a bit of both. He said that in the short-term, America's war on terror is terrible for globalization because it creates barriers between the US and the rest of the world, however most believe that globalization is an impetus for cooperation between many parts of the world.
"The beat goes on in globalization," said Garrett.