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Global Challenges for Gender Equality

UN Commission on the Status of Women

This week, the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58) coincides with International Women’s Day (which took place on March 8th), as well as Women’s History Month in the U.S.  These events present a great opportunity to discuss and examine the challenges faced by women and girls in today’s world.  Let’s focus on three key target areas for gender equality (UN Women, 2013).

Freedom from violence against women and girls

The World Health Organization reported in 2013 that 35% of women worldwide have experienced some type of violence  in their lifetime. This violence can have serious and long-lasting effects on women’s mental, reproductive, and sexual health (WHO, 2013). This issue is addressed in the UN Millennium Development Goals, and will undoubtedly be addressed by the post-2015 development goals.  UN Women works to encourage legal reform, create safe spaces for women, provide health services for victims of violence, increase awareness of the problem, and prevent violence by addressing the root causes. This cause has also been taken up by many private organizations, such as End Violence Against Women International and Springtide Resources. These organizations focus on education initiatives, prevention programs, as well as conducting research to guide efforts at reform.

Gender Equality in the Distribution of Capabilities

This area involves women’s access to education, healthcare, and opportunities such as land or work with equal pay.  The Millennium Development Goals Report of 2013 indicates that progress is being made in all of these areas, but this progress varies by region and demographic.  For instance, the report reveals that women tend to hold less secure jobs than men in developing regions.  The statistics for education reveal that in Northern Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia, the gender disparity in education still remains high (UN, 2013).  The World Economic Forum’s World Gender Gap Report also shows that the “Gender Gap” varies greatly depending on region and tends to be higher in developing areas(World Economic Forum, 2013).

Gender equality in decision-making power

This issue is about women holding positions of influence in public forums and government, but also in their own homes and families.  The number of women that hold parliamentary seats has increased in almost every world region since 2000, mostly due to the creation of legislative or voluntary quotas that require a certain number of female members. However, women’s decision-making power at home remains significantly lower than men’s in many regions of the world (UN, 2013).  These types of decisions range from money-related decisions, to women’s ability to visit friends and family, to decisions about women’s own health.  Family dynamics are greatly influenced by societal and institutional norms, and the hope of many organizations is that by increasing women’s access to education and work opportunities, these norms will begin to change in a direction that is less discriminatory towards women.

Why is gender equality so important?

In a recent report, the UK-based Department for International Development explains that economic stability and growth for developing countries is greatly boosted by improved gender equality.  It makes sense – if women and girls can gain access to improved education, they will eventually get better jobs and be able to better contribute to the economy. The same study shows that including women in political decision-making leads to more effective governance, since women’s presence in government brings greater diversity and different experience to the process (DFID, 2013). This makes the problem all the more pressing and important.  Gender equality is not only a significant concern from a human rights standpoint, but it will allow for the economic and political growth that developing nations need to make them competitive in world markets.

But on a more basic level, gender equality is about advancing human rights for all citizens of the world.

Check out the resources below to learn more about this subject:

Organizations

He for She

UN Women

Women Thrive Wordwide

International Labour Organization Bureau for Gender Equality (GENDER)

End Violence Against Women International

Springtide Resources

Women for Women International

 

Informative Websites and Web Articles

Timeline of International Agreements and Standards to End Violence against Women

Five Human Rights Issues for U.S. NonProfits on International Women’s Day – Non-Profit Quarterly

International Women’s Day: Mainstream Messaging For The Radical Cause Of Full Economic Empowerment – Forbes

 

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC E-Journals)

Corinne L. Mason. “Global Violence Against Women as a National Security “Emergency”.” Feminist Formations 25.2 (2013): 55-80. Project MUSE. Web. 14 Mar. 2014.

Hendra, J., FitzGerald, I., & Seymour, D. (2013). TOWARDS A NEW TRANSFORMATIVE DEVELOPMENT AGENDA: THE ROLE OF MEN AND BOYS IN ACHIEVING GENDER EQUALITY. Journal Of International Affairs67(1), 105-122.

Munin, N. (2013). NGOs, Multinational Enterprises and Gender Equality in Labor Markets: A Political Economy of Conflicting Interests?. Journal Of Multidisciplinary Research (1947-2900)5(1), 5-26.

Chant, SylviaSweetman, Caroline.  (2012). Fixing women or fixing the world? ‘Smarteconomics’, efficiency approaches, and gender equality in development. Gender & Development. 20(3), 517-52.

 

Latest Books at the UIUC Libraries

Joffe, Lisa Fishbayn.Neil, Sylvia. (Eds.) (2013). Gender, religion, & family law: theorizing conflicts between women’s rights and cultural traditionsWaltham, Mass. : Brandeis University Press.

Karamessini, Maria.Rubery, Jill. (Eds.) (2014). Women and austerity: the economic crisis and the future for gender equalityMilton Park, Abingdon, Oxon : Routledge.

Ringrose, Jessica. (2013). Postfeminist education?: girls and the sexual politics of schoolingLondon : Routledge.

Rose, Susan D.. (2014). Challenging global gender violence: the Global Clothesline ProjectNew York : Palgrave Pivot.

Runyan, Anne Sisson,Peterson, V. Spike. (2014). Global gender issues in the new millenniumBoulder, CO : Westview Press.

Yarwood, Lisa. (Eds.) (2013). Women and transitional justice: the experience of women as participantsAbingdon, Oxon : Routledge.

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The Politics of Water

 

The Problem:

Water scarcity is one of the most pressing humanitarian crises facing the world today.  Access to water resources has far-reaching political and social implications, especially in areas where water is scarce. Natural water basins do not comply with man-made political borders, and as a result the allocation of precious water resources becomes a point of negotiation in transnational treaties and agreements.   Adding to the politicization of water is the connection between water and energy production.  Water is needed for all types of energy production, and energy is needed for the extraction and dissemination of clean water (UNIDO, 2014).

Water also affects social and cultural issues, such as gender and income inequality.  Since women are traditionally the family members responsible for the retrieval of water, women end up spending many hours of their day collecting water (many times still from polluted or unclean sources) for their family’s survival rather than working outside the home or pursuing education.  When people must spend such a large portion of their time procuring basic resources such as water, their ability to better their situation through work or education becomes even more limited.  This means that the poorest people in the world remain poor, as long as they are struggling daily to obtain water.

Probably the most heart wrenching aspects of the global water crisis is its disproportionate effect on children.   Unicef reported in 2013 that over 2,000 children die every day from diarrheal diseases, an estimated 1,800 of which stem from issues of water and hygiene. Sanjay Wijesekera, global head of UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene programme, puts these numbers into perspective, saying, “The numbers can be numbing, but they represent real lives, of real children. Every child is important. Every child has the right to health, the right to survive, the right to a future that is as good as we can make it” (UNICEF, 2013).

Solutions:

The UN’s Millennium Development Goals address the issue of clean water and sanitation. Target 7.C of the goals promises to, “Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation” (UN, 2013).  According to the UN website, this goal was met in 2010, five years ahead of schedule.  More than 2 billion people gained improved access to drinking water between 1990 and 2010.

How are these goals being met?  In addition to awareness campaigns such as World Water Day (which happens to be coming up on March 22nd!), there are countless organizations working to provide clean and accessible drinking water to the world’s poor and to manage and conserve freshwater resources.  Many organizations work to set up programs in water-scarce countries that provide financing to families and communities for setting up clean water and sanitation services.  Others directly provide wells, pumps, and latrines, as well as training for community members on maintaining the clean-water technology.  Organizations range from non-profits to institutional coalitions to for-profit companies that donate a portion of profits to the cause. These types of charities and organizations are making strides in bringing safe and clean water to world populations, but it is a massive undertaking and the effort will require cooperation across cultures and political borders.

Learn more about water! Check out the resources below:

Websites

FAO Legal Office – Water Treaties Database

UNESCO Water Links Worldwide

27 Water Crisis Orgs to Follow Right Now

World Water Day 2014

UN Millenium Development Goals

Selected Scholarly Articles (Accessed through UIUC E-Journals)

Ciampi, M. (2013). ‘Water divide’ in the global risk society. International Review Of Sociology, 23(1), 243-260.

Lall, U., Heikkila, T., Brown, C., & Siegfried, T. (2008). WATER IN THE 21ST CENTURY: DEFINING THE ELEMENTS OF GLOBAL CRISES AND POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS. Journal Of International Affairs, 61(2), 1-17.

Sivakumar, Bellie. (2011). Water Crisis: from conflict to cooperation, an overview. Hydrological Sciences Journal. 56(4), 531-552.

Trottier, J. (2008). Water crises: political construction or physical reality?. Contemporary Politics, 14(2), 197-214.

Latest Books at UIUC Library

Allan, J. A. (Eds.) (2013). Handbook of land and water grabs in Africa: foreign direct investment and food and water security. London : Routledge.

Chellaney, Brahma. (2013). Water, peace, and war :confronting the global water crisis. Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Groenfeldt, David. (2013). Water ethics: a values approach to solving the water crisis. Abingdon : Earthscan from Routledge.

Hughes, Richard. (2013). Religion, law, and the present water crisis. New York : Peter Lang.

Thielbörger, Pierre.. (2013). The right(s) to water: the multi-level governance of a unique human right.  Berlin : Springer.

Additional Resources from UIUC

Multimedia: 

How to Ensure Sustainable Access to Water for Food in a World of Growing Scarcity

Problematizing Production Potential: Water Scarcity, Access, and Borders in the 21st Century Agricultural Economy

 

 

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The World Watches as Protests Escalate

In the past weeks, mass protests have been swelling in Venezuela, Ukraine, and Thailand, sparking discussions among world political leaders over the rights of protestors and the nature of political dissent.  The world is watching as three different countries in three very different parts of the world struggle with opposition between government and civilian groups, and as the protests escalate from peaceful demonstrations to bloody clashes that verge on all-out battle.  Here is the run-down on what’s happening in each of these three countries.

Venezuela

In Venezuela, at least 4 people were killed and many more injured as government forces pushed back against protestors in the capital city of Caracas on February 12th.  Anti-government protestors are part of a movement led by Leopoldo López, leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, who has long been a proponent of grass roots political reform in the country.  According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2013-2014, Venezuela is the number three economy most damaged by violence.  The country currently has the highest inflation rate in the world, at 56.2%.  Protestors are calling for the ousting of President Nicolas Madura, who was elected after the death of Hugo Chavez in April, 2013.  Rallies have been held both in opposition to and in support of the Madura government.  The government has arrested many protesters and is holding them in custody, along with López, who turned himself in to the police on February 18th.

Ukraine

In the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, protesters took to the streets in November in response to President Viktor Yanukovych backing out of a trade deal with Europe in favor of closer ties with Russia.  Protests have spread to other cities in Ukraine, but Kiev remains the center of conflict.  Many demonstrators have been camping out in Independence Square in Kiev for months, determined to see the conflict through.  On February 18th, after parliament refused to pass a law limiting the president’s powers, protests surged and security forces took steps to quell them, resulting in violent clashes that left at least 25 dead and hundreds wounded.  Violence came from both sides of the struggle, with deaths and injuries on the side of the protesters as well as the security forces.  Protesters set fire to buildings, including the headquarters of the ruling Party of Regions.  The opposition headquarters, the Trade Union House, was also set afire and Independence Square resembled a battle scene on the morning of February 19th.

Although Yanukovych and opposition leaders sat down to a truce on February 19th, fresh fighting broke out in Independence Square on February 20th between protesters and police.  News outlets are reporting up to 100 deaths in these clashes.  The renewed uprising led to an extra-legal parliamentary takeover, after which Yanukovych fled the city.  Parliament set up an interim government and announced presidential elections in May.  Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko announced that he would be on the ballot for the May elections.  Ukraine’s new government announced on February 24th that Yanukovych would be tried for mass murder charges in connection with the deaths of protesters during clashes with police, but he remains on the run.  Meanwhile, the newly formed government of Ukraine is scrambling to avoid economic default, entreating the United States and European Union to pull together as much as $35 billion to get the country back on its feet.  The next weeks will be critical for the fresh leadership in Ukraine to avoid economic collapse and unite the differing opinions of a still-uncertain new government.

Thailand

In Bangkok, Thailand, protesters have been camped out since November calling for the removal of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the implementation of an unelected “people’s council” to push through reforms.  On February 18th, after Yingluck expanded the powers of police to disband protesters, attempts to clear protesters from government buildings in Bangkok led to violent clashes between police and protesters.  Five people were killed during this standoff, as both police and protesters fired guns.  Witnesses claim that protesters threw a grenade at police, injuring several. Thai authorities estimate that 15,000 people are involved in the protests, and nearly 200 protesters have been arrested.

 

Stay informed on these important events! The following sources will get you up to speed:

General Reference Resources

CIA World Factbook – provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities.

EIU Country Intelligence: Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) Country Intelligence provides users with reports and analysis about political, business and economic issues by country, category and subject.

 

News Sources

Venezuela

In Venezuela, Protest Ranks Grow Broader – New York Times

Most neighbors silent as Venezuela reels – CNN

Mercosur condemns violence in Venezuela and calls for dialogue. – MercoPress

17-year-old dies during Venezuelan protests. – CNN

Venezuela’s Maduro Holds Mass Rally to Reject Violence as Protests Continue. – Venezuelanalysis.com

Ukraine

The Guardian – Ukraine

Ukraine crisis: Vitali Klitschko says he will run for presidency – The Independent

Ukraine wants runaway president to face international justice – Reuters

EU, U.S. Scramble to Pull Together Aid for Ukraine – The Wall Street Journal

Thailand

10 questions: What’s behind the protests in Thailand? – CNN

Thailand police and protesters clash fatally in Bangkok – BBC News

Thai protests end in violence and deaths – Al Jazeera

 

Scholarly Articles (Full text available through UIUC E-Journals)

Venezuela

Denis, R. (2012). The Birth of an “Other Politics” in Venezuela. South Atlantic Quarterly, 111(1), 81-93.

Jefferson, A. (2013). Venezuela’s Bolivarian Democracy: Participation, Politics, and Culture under Chávez. Latin Americanist57(3), 108-110.

Kingsbury, Donald. (2013). Between Multitude and Pueblo: Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution and the Government of Un-governability. New Political Science, 35(4), 567-585.

Nadeau, Richard; Bélanger, Éric; Didier, Thomas. (2013). The Chávez vote and the national economy in Venezuela. Electoral Studies, 32(3), pp. 482-488.

Ukraine

Antoaneta Dimitrova & Rilka Dragneva (2013) Shaping Convergence with the EU in Foreign Policy and State Aid in Post-Orange Ukraine: Weak External Incentives, Powerful VetoPlayers, Europe-Asia Studies, 65:4, 658-681.

Dimitrova A, Dragneva R. Shaping Convergence with the EU in Foreign Policy and State Aid in Post-Orange Ukraine: Weak External Incentives, Powerful Veto Players. Europe-Asia Studies [serial online]. June 2013;65(4):658-681.

Thailand

Paul Chambers (2013). Military “Shadows” in Thailand Since the 2006 Coup. Asian Affairs: An American Review, 40:2, 67-82.

Sinpeng, A., & Martinez Kuhonta, E. (2012). From the Street to the Ballot Box: The July 2011 Elections and the Rise of Social Movements in Thailand. Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal Of International & Strategic Affairs, 34(3), 389-415.

Taylor, J. (2012). Remembrance and Tragedy: Understanding Thailand’s “Red Shirt” Social Movement. SOJOURN: Journal Of Social Issues In Southeast Asia, 27(1), 120-152.

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Exploring Global Studies Careers

The great thing about a major or minor in Global Studies is versatility.  Since Global Studies is such an interdisciplinary field, graduates branch out into all parts of the world, in all segments of industry, government, and the non-profit sector.  The whole idea behind the creation of Global Studies programs is that global issues need the expertise of all academic disciplines, and an interdisciplinary background is essential to better understand the problems of our world.  The world needs minds that understand globalization and how it affects all aspects of society, and students who come from a Global Studies background are prepared to address these important issues in whichever field they have chosen.  Some students enter the workforce directly after graduation with entry-level positions in a variety of fields, and others pursue graduate studies or other type of professional school.

Whatever path you choose, it’s never too soon to start thinking about and preparing for your career.  Here are some general tips to think about while you’re pursuing your degree that might make job searching easier down the road:

  • Study Abroad
  • Volunteer or Intern  Abroad
  • Learn languages
  • Get an internship or summer job domestically with an international firm.
  • If you have a “target country” that you’d eventually like to work in, learn as much about the culture, language, politics, and business environment of that country as possible.

An education in Global Studies will provide you with critical thinking skills, the ability to understand diverse cultures, knowledge of international economics, language and translation skills, and many other important abilities that will be invaluable in the global workplace.  The proper planning for your chosen career will help in your future job searches and help you tailor your skills to your chosen profession.

**LAS Global Studies prepares a weekly “Career Prep Bulletin” for Global Studies majors and minors.  If you are not a Global Studies major or minor, but would like to receive this newsletter, please email Melissa Schoeplein at mschoepl@illinois.edu.

Check out the following resources to get a head start on career planning!

Helpful Websites

The Career Center at UIUC – Working Abroad

LAS Global Studies Program – UIUC – Careers

Lehigh University – Careers in Global Studies

 “What Can I Do With This Major?” – from the University of Tennessee

 

Some Print Resources on Global Careers

Christie, Sally. (2004). Vault guide to international careers. New York : Vault Inc.

Kruempelmann, Elizabeth. (2002). The global citizen: a guide to creating an international life and career. Berkeley : Ten Speed Press.

Reis, Christina.Baruch, Yehuda. (Eds.) (2013). Careers without borders: critical perspectives.  New York : Routledge.

Sherman, Dan. (2013). Maximum success with Linkedin: dominate your market, build a global brand, and create the career of your dreamsNew York : McGraw-Hill.

Swartz, Salli. (Eds.) (2012). Careers in international law. Chicago : American Bar Association, Section of International Law.

 

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World Leaders Talk Disarmament at UN Conference

Photo: U.S. Mission by Eric Bridiers

On January 21st, the UN Conference on Disarmament opened in Geneva.  With members from 65 countries including the world’s leading military powers, the conference is designed to create multilateral agreements on arms control and disarmament.  The conference, which began in 1979, has resulted in some of the most important treaties on non-proliferation, such as the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon opened the conference with a speech urging member states to overcome differences and move past the stalemate that the conference has experienced in recent years.  Speaking of the Syrian chemical weapons incident of 2013, and the unified voice that came from United Nations member states against such weapons, he encouraged the conference to use structured discussions and draw out new non-proliferation treaty frameworks.

While non-proliferation has become a strong point of rhetoric for many nations, the steps taken to reduce nuclear arms have fallen short of many expectations in recent years.  In a 2009 speech, President Obama vowed that the United States would “seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” (as cited in Karp, 2012).  Yet, in early January, the U.S. Defense Secretary announced a plan to upgrade the United States nuclear forces that will total $1 trillion in cost over the next 30 years. These discrepancies between ideology and practice are not limited to the United States.  Russia, China, and India are all taking huge steps to expand their nuclear defense programs as well (Wittner, 2014). The Conference on Disarmament could be an important forum for bringing these discrepancies to light and developing structured and open discussions about their meanings.  Hopefully, member states will heed the words of Secretary General Ki-Moon and overcome their differences to engage in these discussions.

You can learn more about non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament with the sources below!

News Sources

UN chief encourages Conference on Disarmament to live up to world’s expectations – UN News Centre

Interview with Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs

The Endless Arms Race: Despite Great Power Promises, New Nuclear Weapons Are On the Way – Huffington Post, Lawrence Wittner

 

Scholarly Articles

Doyle, J., & Streeper, C. (2012). Steps toward increased nuclear transparency. Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists, 68(2), 55-62.

Karp, R. (2012). Nuclear Disarmament: Should America Lead? Political Science Quarterly, 127(1), 47-71.

Lawrence Freedman (2013) Disarmament and Other Nuclear Norms, TheWashington Quarterly, 36:2, 93-108.

Tannenwald, N. (2013). Justice and fairness in the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Ethics & International Affairs, 27(3), 299.

Walker, P. F., & Hunt, J. R. (2011). The legacy of Reykjavik and the future of nuclear disarmament. Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists, 67(6), 63-72.

 

Books at UIUC Libraries

Chalmers, Malcolm. (2012). Less is better: nuclear restraint at low numbers. London : Rusi.

Jasper, Ursula. (2014). The politics of nuclear non-proliferation: a pragmatist framework for analysis. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon : Routledge.

Kutchesfahani, Sara Z. (2014). Politics and the bomb: the role of experts in the creation of cooperative nuclear non-proliferation agreements. New York, NY : Routledge.

Warren, Aiden. (2014). The Obama administration’s nuclear weapon strategy: the promises of Prague. Abingdon, Oxon : Routledge.

 

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World Social Science Report 2013: Focusing on Changing Global Environments

The latest Social Science Report from UNESCO, released on November 15th, highlights the changing global environment and the impact that environmental changes have on social, economic, and political issues. The report highlights the need for in-depth research on environmental changes from a social science perspective, pointing to three “defining attributes” of modern global issues that particularly require the attentions of social science researchers. These three attributes are “The inseparability of social and environmental systems and problems,” “A human condition without precedent,” and “Urgent and fundamental social transformation.” With the goal of creating a basis for social science research in the field of environmental change, and spurring increased interest in the area among the social science community, the report includes perspectives from 150 authors from a variety of disciplines.

Although social scientists have been studying global environmental change since the 1950s, the field is still mostly dominated by natural science research. Asserting that the complex issue of environmental change requires a cross-discipline approach, the authors of the World Social Science Report call for the integration of global change research from around the world into an international multi-disciplinary research campaign.* The argument is that “global change changes everything.” Humans rely on the natural resources that the Earth provides, and changes in the natural world present very real and pressing challenges for humanity, challenges which require a broad perspective that draws on wisdom from many different disciplines. The most effective way to understand and navigate major global issues like environmental change is through a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach to research and development. Hopefully this report will be an effective motivator for members of the social science community to tackle the issues surrounding global environmental change and to reach out to other disciplines to form collaborative partnerships and launch new paths of research on the subject.

* One organization, Future Earth, is attempting this integration through an alliance of international organizations that will endeavor to find solutions to global change issues.

Want to learn more about global environmental change from a social science perspective? Here are some great sources on the topic!

World Social Science Report 2013 – Changing Global Environments – Executive Summary

Future Earth

News Sources on the Report

UN News Center

Reuters

Scholarly Articles

Bradatan, Cristina. (2013). Where do we go from here? Climate change as a human affair. International Sociology. 28, 496.

Ehrlich, Paul R.. (2011). Seeking environmental solutions in the social sciences. Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 67(5), 1-8.

Lahsen, Myanna. (2013). Climategate: the role of the social sciences. Climatic Change, 119(3-4), 547-558.
Moss, R. H., Edmonds, J. A., Hibbard, K. A., Manning, M. R., Rose, S. K., van Vuuren, D. P., & Wilbanks, T. J. (2010). The next generation of scenarios for climate change research and assessment. Nature, 463(7282), 747-756.

Books from UIUC Libraries

Almlund, Pernille., Jespersen, Per Homann, Riis, Søren. (Eds.) (2012). Rethinking climate change research: clean-technology, culture and communication. Farnham, Surrey, England ; Ashgate Pub. Co.

Driessen, P, P. J., Leroy, Pieter, Vierssen, Wilhelmus van. (Eds.) (2010). From climate change to social change :perspectives on science-policy interactions. Utrecht : International Books.

Harper, Charles L. (2012). Environment and society: human perspectives on environmental issues. Boston : Prentice Hall.

Hastrup, Kirsten.Olwig, Karen Fog. (Eds.) (2012). Climate change and human mobility: global challenges to the social sciences. Cambridge. England : Cambridge University Press.

O’Brien, Karen L., St. Clair, Asuncion Lera, Kristoffersen, Berit. (Eds.) (2010). Climate change, ethics and human security. New York : Cambridge University Press.

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NSA Leaks Bring Surveillance, Privacy, Digital Security to the Forefront

The recent public discovery of massive NSA surveillance of U.S. citizens as well as foreign citizens and even foreign leaders has opened up a conversation about human rights, the “surveillance industrial complex,” (Gates, 2012) and the implications of the new age of surveillance on international relations.  In late October, the news that the NSA had been monitoring the personal cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel since 2002 sent shockwaves through the international community and prompted many governments to demand new rules for international intelligence gathering.  But the latest leaks from NSA documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that the U.S. is not the only government with large-scale surveillance programs.  Reuters reported on November 2nd that “[s]py agencies across Western Europe are working together on mass surveillance of Internet and phone traffic comparable to programmes run by their U.S. counterpart” (Shirbon, 2013).

Clearly, international political leaders have much to discuss about how digital security and surveillance will be governed in the future. A new study by the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs concludes that the surveillance activities that have been undertaken by the NSA, GCHQ, and other European intelligence agencies violate several European Union laws. The study recommends that the full nature of these intelligence programs be exposed for analysis and asserts that “A ‘professional code for the transnational management of data’ within the EU should be set up, including guidelines on how this code would apply to EU partners” The study also argues that “[l]arge-scale EU surveillance programmes also compromise the security and fundamental human rights of citizens and residents in the Union, in particular those related to privacy and effective legal protection” (Bigo et al, 2013).  Undoubtedly, European and U.S. policymakers will be discussing and debating these surveillance activities in the months and years to come, and the stakes will only rise as technology advances and as more of our lives take place and become documented in the digital realm.

Want to learn more about this topic? The sources below will get your started!

Scholarly Articles

Bigo, Didier, Carrera, Sergio, Hernanz, Nicholas, Jeandesboz, Julien, Parkin,Joanna, Ragazzi, Francesco, and Scherrer,   Amandine. (2013). Mass Surveillance of Personal Data by EU Member States and its Compatibility with EU Law. (Report No. 61) Brussels : The Centre for European Policy Studies.

Ball, K.S and D. Murakami Wood. (2013). Editorial. Political Economies of Surveillance. Surveillance & Society 11(1/2): 1-3.

Richards, N. M. (2013). THE DANGERS OF SURVEILLANCE. Harvard Law Review, 126(7), 1934-1965.

Books from the UIUC Library

Assange, Julian., Appelbaum, Jacob, Müller-Maguhn, AndyZimmermann, Jérémi. (2012). Cypherpunks: freedom and the future of the internet. New York : OR Books.

Ball, K.S. and Snider, L. (eds). (2013). The Surveillance Industrial Complex: Towards a Political Economy of Surveillance. London, New York: Routledge.

Gates, K. 2012. The Globalization of Homeland Security, in K.S. Ball, D.H. Haggerty and D. Lyon (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Surveillance Studies. London / New York: Routledge, 292-300.

Johnson, Emily M.Rodriguez, Michael J. (Eds.) (2012). Legalities of GPS and cell phone surveillance. New York : Novinka.

Luppicini, Rocci. (Eds.) (2013) Moral, ethical, and social dilemmas in the age of technology theories and practice. Hershey, Pa. : IGI Global.

Pimple, Kenneth D.. (Eds.) (2013). Emerging pervasive information and communication technologies (PICT) :ethical challenges, opportunities and safeguard. Dordrecht : Springer.

Rosen, David,Santesso, Aaron. (2013). The watchman in pieces: surveillance, literature, and liberal personhood. New Haven : Yale University Press.

Trottier, Daniel. (2012). Social media as surveillance: rethinking visibility in a converging world. Surrey,  England:  Ashgate.

News Coverage of NSA Leaks

Reuters

The Guardian

The Huffington Post

Al Jazeera

 

 

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World Maps and Worldview: Social and Political Implications

TrueSizeOfAfricaSmallMaps are our visual representations of the world, and they shape our understanding of the world in a lot of ways. While maps can be a wonderful teaching tool, helping us to visualize our world and our place in it, misrepresentations in maps can have profound effects on our worldview. From a historical perspective, maps from different points in time illustrate the mapmakers’ priorities – what did they find important enough to include, to emphasize, to depict as larger or smaller on the map? Historian Dirk Raat, in describing how Old World peoples created maps, states that “medieval Europeans and their New World counterparts organized space according to philosophical and religious principles” (285). Meaning that their maps not only represented land mass, but how they viewed themselves and their beliefs in relation to the land that they occupied. So from this early point, maps inherently held social and political weight.

In 1569, European mapmaker Gerhardus Mercator devised a new world map projection, which became hugely popular and is to this day a widely-used representation of the world. In the Mercator projection, straight lines on the map represent constant directions on the Earth’s surface, which is hugely helpful for navigational purposes (one of the big reasons the Mercator projection became so popular at its creation). The Mercator projection, however, while utilitarian, does not accurately depict area. The map stretches the parts of the world that are nearer to the North and South poles (including Europe and North America), making them appear larger than they truly are. When using a world map as a teaching tool for conceptualizing the world, the Mercator map can be problematic because it distorts the size of landmasses.

In the twentieth century, especially as many nations in the equatorial regions of the globe were gaining independence from imperial powers such as the United Kingdom and the United States, the Mercator projection began drawing criticism for its misrepresentation of land masses. Since many developing nations are near the equator and therefore represented as much smaller than their actual size, critics argued that a map that more accurately depicted true land mass was needed. New projections such as Goode’s Homolosine and the Gall-Peters Projection (among many others) depicted the world more accurately in terms of land mass, and have become a more popular way to teach world geography.

Nevertheless, many argue that ignorance of world geography (or as Kai Krause calls it, “immappancy”) is still prevalent, especially among first-world peoples. This image, The True Size of Africa*, by Krause, illustrates a point that has been discussed for decades about the implications of misrepresenting land mass area in world map projections. Krause’s map makes us stop and question our view of world geography, and what effects that view could have on social and political issues. This discussion is one that will likely continue for some time, and one that carries many implications in the realm of global studies. Check out the resources below to investigate this topic further.

* It is important to point out that Krause actually used the Mercator projection country shapes in his illustration, something that has drawn some criticism from cartographers.

Books at UIUC Library:

Johnson, Jenny Marie. (2003). Geographic information :how to find it, how to use it. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press.

Barber, Peter.Harper, Tom. (2010). Magnificent maps :power, propaganda and art. London : British Library.

Garfield, Simon. (2013). On the map : a mind-expanding exploration of the way the world looks. New York, N.Y. : Gotham Books.

Piper, Karen Lynnea. (2002). Cartographic fictions :maps, race, and identity. New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press.

Wood, Denis.Fels, John. (2008). The natures of maps :cartographic constructions of the natural world. Chicago : University of Chicago Press.

Articles:

Raat, W. (2004). Innovative Ways to Look at New World Historical Geography. History Teacher, 37(3), 281-306.

Stephens, David. (February 2002). Making Sense of Maps. In History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web. Retrieved from http://historymatters.gmu.edu/mse/maps/.

Walbert, David. (2010) Projections and Propaganda. In Map skills and higher-order thinking. Retrieved from http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/mapping/6434

Awesome websites on maps and cartography:

Map Projections

BU African Studies Center – Teaching Africa – How Big is Africa?

Maps as Instruments of Propaganda

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New Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report: Debates and Implications

Climate change is an issue that, perhaps more than any other, exemplifies the complexity of intergovernmental cooperation and international policymaking. For decades, climate change has been debated and discussed in the forum of international politics, most notably since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was negotiated in 1992. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), established in 1988, produces reports on the status of climate change based on the latest in peer-reviewed scientific literature on the topic. Since its inception, the IPCC has published four major reports on the status of climate change, each of which have been heavily relied upon by policymakers worldwide in creating environmental policy at the national and international levels.
This week, the IPCC released Working Group I of the Fifth Assessment Report (Working groups II, III, and the Final Synthesis Report will be released in 2014.) The report states that it is “extremely likely” that human activities have been a contributing factor to climate change in the last 60 years. This shows an increase in certainty of human involvement in climate change since the IPCC’s last report in 2007. The report provides projections of future climate change, with four scenarios of future greenhouse gas emissions. It also provides a peak “target” level of greenhouse gas emissions, at which climate changes will become irreversible.
Since becoming a topic of international discussion, as well as grounds for national and international environmental policy, the science of climate change has often been mired in public skepticism. The IPCC itself came under attack by skeptics in 2009, when thousands of emails between IPCC scientists were leaked to the public. Critics claimed that the emails showed negligence and even deliberate tampering of climate data. While eight independent committees found no evidence of fraud or scientific misconduct in the emails, public distrust of climate science remains an issue and influences environmental policy.
Nevertheless, international leaders are certain to draw upon the findings of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report in negotiating a new treaty to reduce emissions. Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary General, plans to assemble a panel of world leaders in 2014 to negotiate just such a treaty, and once again the world will watch as climate change becomes a forum for international debate and policymaking.

Official releases on the new study:

Summary of the UN Committee’s finding for policymakers
IPCC Press Release
IPCC “More Info” page about AR5

Press coverage of AR5:

New York Times
Reuters

Official government policies on climate change:

EU Summary of policy on climate change
EPA website on climate change

Selected Books at UIUC Library on Climate Change/Politics:

Boasson, Elin Lerum; Wettestad, Jørgen. (2013) EU Climate Policy: industry, policy interaction and external environment. Farnham, Surrey, England : Ashgate.

Kellow, Aynsley J.Boehmer-Christiansen, Sonja. (Eds.) (2010) The international politics of climate change. Cheltenham, UK : Edward Elgar.

Osofsky, Hari M.; McAllister, Lesley K. (2012) Climate change law and policy. New York : Wolters Kluwer.

Wang, Weiguang; Zheng, Guoguang; Pan, Jiahua. (Eds.) (2012) China’s climate change policies. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon ; Routledge.

Scholarly articles on politics of climate change:

Andonova, L. B., Betsill, M. M., & Bulkeley, H. (2009). Transnational Climate Governance. Global Environmental Politics, 9(2), 52-73.

Compston, H. (2010). The Politics of Climate Policy: Strategic Options for National Governments. Political Quarterly, 81(1), 107-115.

Davidson, S. (2010). Climategate hits the IPCC. Institute Of Public Affairs Review, 62(1), 26-28.

Ravindranath, N. H. (2010). IPCC: accomplishments, controversies and challenges. Current Science, 99(1), 26-35.

Zajko, M. (2011). The Shifting Politics of Climate Science. Society, 48(6), 457-461.

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Global Issues Surrounding the Syrian Civil War

The conflict in Syria has garnered the attention of the world since its inception in 2011, prompting the international community to address issues of terrorism, chemical weapons, and the growing humanitarian and refugee crisis arising from the struggle. In 2012, the United Nations, the League of Arab States, and the Foreign Ministers of the world’s leading powers agreed to the Geneva Plan, which sought to end the violence in Syria and facilitate a Democratic transition in the country. The plan, however, has thus far failed to be implemented and the conflict has only intensified, with tensions rising in the international community. Tensions have come to a high point in August and September of 2013 as UN weapons inspectors confirmed that chemical weapons were used in an attack near Damascus that killed more than 300 people. UN negotiations to craft a resolution to rid Syria of chemical weapons are the current focal point of disagreements between the United States and Russia. The framework of a deal to eliminate Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons was agreed upon by United States and Russian representatives in the UN on September 14th. However, negotiations are ongoing concerning the details of the deal and how it should be enforced, with the United States threatening the use of force if the chemical weapons are not given up.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis in Syria continues to escalate. The UN refugee agency estimates the number of refugees that have crossed the border since the conflict began in 2011 to be over 2 million, a number that is rising by 5,000 daily. The surge of displaced Syrians into Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq creates the immense challenge of providing the refugees with food, housing, and healthcare. Moreover, millions of Syrians remaining in the country are in need of humanitarian aid. UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos stated during an appeal for humanitarian aid in Syria that, “Ordinary women, men and children are bearing the brunt of this crisis” (UNOCA, 2013). Although humanitarian organizations have made an immense effort to help those in need, the escalating violence continues to place the Syrian people in danger.

Check out the video of the recent Teach-in on Syria, from the Center for Global Studies at UIUC.

Latest Books at UIUC Library on Syrian Conflict:
• Martini, Jeffrey; York, Erin; Young, William. (2013) Syria as an arena of strategic competition Santa Monica, CA: Rand Group.
• Pierret, Thomas. (2013). Religion and state in Syria :the Sunni Ulama from coup to revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
• Wieland, Carsten., Almquist, Adam., Nassif, Helena.Hinnebusch, Raymond. (2013) The Syrian uprising: dynamics of an insurgency. Fife, Scotland: University of St. Andrews Centre for Syrian Studies.

Major News Outlets on Syria:
The Guardian – Latest news from Syria

Al Jazeera – Syria’s War

CBS News In-depth coverage of Syria Crisis:

BBC News – Syria Conflict

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