Global Currents has migrated!

The Global Currents blog has migrated to the Webtools platform. This update, which is part of a larger update to CGS’s online presence, makes to blog more seamlessly integrated with our main website. For now, older posts will remain at this domain ( for archival purposes, but all new posts will be published only on the new site.

We have been posting regularly on the updated blog platform, which has several exciting features that were not possible on the old blog platform. First, readers can post comments under posts, just like with many other online blogs. Please feel free to join the conversation and write comments of your own! Second, readers can now subscribe to the blog; if you subscribe, you will receive an email notification when a new post is published.

Thank you for your continued support of the Center for Global Studies, as well as the Global Studies department of the International and Area Studies Library. We appreciate everyone who has followed the blog for all these years. If you have any questions, please feel to email us at


Web Archiving and the Global Response to COVID-19

Written in collaboration with Steve Witt.

One doesn’t need to look far to see how much the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the world, halting the mobility of people and goods that we took for granted as critical components of the global economy. This crisis has put a strain on nearly every system of our global society, impacting every sector of civil society. To attempt to preserve some of the initial reactions and concerns brought about the health emergency, the Center for Global Studies and the International and Area Studies Library began archiving websites of civil society organizations around the world as they respond to this crisis.

A screenshot of our Civil Society Responses web archive.The archive began in late April on Archive-It, a platform that enables us to capture virtual “screenshots” of online websites and documents as they existed at the time of capture. To identify content to capture, we first analyzed a random sampling of 1,000 of the nearly 5,000 organizational websites that are included in the Global Studies custom search engine. The search engine comprises a group of mainly non-governmental organizations that work within different Global Studies domains and range from major think tanks to regional organizations and trade groups, covering topics from human rights to food security to migration to arms control. Of these initial 1,000 sites, we identified 350 organizations that either have a sub-site dedicated to COVID-19 (213) or a significant number of reports and articles available through the site’s search (114). In addition, more than a few organizations had already produced substantial reports on the impact of the crisis. Working with subject specialists in the International and Area Studies Library, we’ve added further sites from East Europe, Eurasia, and Africa, attempting to include representation from organizations in multiple regions and publications in multiple language groups.

This collection of websites, blog posts, Twitter updates, and reports shows how humanity’s concern and intellectual focus shifted in a mere three months towards the threat and effects of COVID-19 and the cascading and overlapping impacts it has on every human and human system. The global nature of the pandemic is clear. This archive provides documentation of how organizations responded and adjusted positions to accommodate, understand, and gain control over a rapidly changing political, economic, and security landscape. In addition, it shows troubling trends beyond the health threat posed by the virus. Themes across continents emerge of new threats to food security, the proliferation of fake news, fears of a loss of privacy, and populist governments using the crisis to consolidate power and implement policies that further alienate and harm vulnerable and marginalized people. Although the archive is still growing and developing as new sites are added and integrated, it is currently searchable at

Our archival collection is part of a broader movement by libraries to virtually document the broader impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cornell University Library has developed an archive on the international labor challenges imposed by COVID-19, with webpage captures archiving the responses of unions, employers, governments, and non-profits. The University of Dayton Libraries is collecting webpages documenting the response of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. The National Library of Medicine has integrated COVID-19 content into its selective Global Health Events web archive, which already included websites captured during the Ebola and Zika virus outbreaks of the last decade. The International Internet Preservation Consortium is amassing a large collection of archived web content that prioritizes the origins of the virus and its spread, regional and local containment efforts, and the wide societal impact felt by the pandemic.

Documentation of the pandemic’s broader effects is complemented by a plethora of projects capturing COVID-19’s impact at the local and individual levels. Public libraries and academic libraries are both at the forefront of these efforts, as Library Journal discussed in an April article. The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) is also gathering a large collection of case studies that document the ways in which libraries have responded to the virus. Here at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University Archives is collecting personal stories from members of the campus community about their unique personal experiences. On the Archive-It platform, robust efforts to capture websites documenting the impact of COVID-19 at a local level include Dalhousie University Library’s COVID-19 Nova Scotia Web Archive and Kansas City Public Library’s COVID-19 Outbreak web archive.

As we continue to develop our web archive of civil society websites from around the world, we hope to help add a globalized dimension to the current efforts to document the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as its impact continues and changes. We hope the archive will be useful to students and researchers seeking to understand this moment in human history and attempting to make sense of how the pandemic impacted different sectors of society and peoples around the world. Because people across the world are dealing with an event of drastic proportions, we feel a responsibility to help capture this pivotal moment in time for future posterity.


Global Voices from the Information World – April 20, 2020

A Note from Steve Witt, Director of the Center for Global Studies

In our global studies graduate seminars, we often discuss the pull of the global city: networks of financial transactions, mobility, culture, and higher education.  Looking at the scuttled trips for this spring and summer my participation in this phenomena was evident. Canceled were Dublin (two trips), New York and Tokyo for research, and Melbourne for both research and a global studies consortium meeting.  Our news of the pandemic also focuses on these major global cities and their valiant efforts to fight the sickness that has overcome so many.

In global studies, we also talk about the rural in terms of both the urban / rural divide regarding resources but also the continued if not amplified relevancy of rural life and rural identity in the midst of globalization.  Despite living in a rural setting and surrounded by small communities, my engagement with the “rural” is typically constrained to these academic discussions.  My “normal” routines tend to place these communities in my rear view mirror as I move from campus to home to airports to urban centers and back again.

During the “stay-at-home” order my family and I have been volunteering for a local organization called the Diaper Pantry, which supports needy families with donations of diapers, clothes, blankets, and increasingly food.  The pandemic has caused this and I presume other organizations to move into a distributed-network mode of delivery.  The centralized food-bank suddenly became an obstacle. It is run mostly by retirees, who need to stay home and can’t work with the public.  Many of the food-bank clients had similarly become immobile – homebound with kids, illness, fear of contagion.

Now, someone from the food bank delivers pre-packed bags of dry goods to my van.  My “handlers” then send me texts with an address, list of needs, and perhaps a short description: victim of domestic abuse, sick and elderly, gravel driveway, use back porch, call first etc….  Before we go, we grab masks, and some of the fresh perishables we have on hand: bread, milk, eggs, bananas, a ham – whatever is at home at that moment.  We head out to places on a rural network that is bound by inadequate access to resources and society’s failure to provide basic welfare and infrastructure to people in these increasingly isolated communities.  We travel to the drive-past villages we would normally have no reason to stop.

With each trip, I realize that I’m more of a stranger in these familiar towns in my county than the nodes of global cosmopolitanism in which I typically travel.  Why is it that I have no acquaintances in towns 10 miles from my house, yet can meet a friend or colleague for a meal in most any global city?  I’m greeted (at a distance and generally through a closed door) by proud people who are grateful for a bit of help, happy to see someone, and just as confused by this situation as everyone else. I leave with a new appreciation for my neighbors yet also with a sense of guilt for needing a crisis to bring me here.


Global Voices from the Information World

We are reaching out to a number of our colleagues in the library and information field to see how they and their institutions are faring in the current environment.  We will attempt to continue this series as long a the pandemic is having global effects.

From Japan:

JapanDokkyo University decided to extend the beginning of a new academic year from April 1st to May 11th. Other universities in big cities also extended the beginning of a new academic year, and some of them like Kyoto University are preparing all classes to online basis.

I felt better staying at home for at least 14 days (not mandatory) after coming back from Wellington, New Zealand where I had spent  almost two months at Victoria University at Wellington, School of Information Management as a visiting scholar.  I arrived in NZ after spending several months at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a visiting scholar. Even before losing anyone to the corona virus, New Zealand declared a national lock-down.  I was able to get on the final flight from NZ to Japan.

Now at home I am making hand-made facemasks to pass the time. I am sewing several facemasks with a pocket in which I can put a piece of bleached, washed gauze cloth or nonwoven fabric. Basically these are not made to prevent the corona-virus, but for my brother’s pollen-allergy protection. Here in Japan no facemasks are sold at stores, no adequate cloth is available at handcraft shops, but I found some in Wellington and brought them back to Japan. I hope they work!

Japan does not have a lock-down at this point, but officials are “asking” the public not to go outside on weekends in big cities like Tokyo or Osaka even though the number of corona-virus patients is increasing day by day. All stores, restaurants, cafes, even pachinko-playing places are open. Kind of a scary situation, but still the Japanese government hesitates to do anything. I wonder if policy makers (make decisions) on economics and business mainly, not … the health of the public.*

Yasuyo Inoue is a Library Science professor at Dokkyo University in Saitama, Japan and had spent from Sep. 2019 to Jan. 2020 at the Center for Global Studies as a visiting scholar.

*A State of Emergency has now been declared in seven of the country’s 47 prefectures.

From Canada:

Our last day of work on site at our teaching university in British Columbia, Canada, was Wednesday, March 18th. Even though we had been watching the progress of the COVID-19 wave – first to the west, across the Pacific, and later with shock at the pandemic’s impacts in an unprepared Europe – it still seemed hard to comprehend. As a public institution, we worked in concert with our Ministry of Higher Education and other institutions to move courses and services online for the last few weeks of the semester. Through all of this, I have been immensely impressed by the resilience of our library’s 22 employees who have responded to this challenge by learning to work remotely with colleagues, supervisors and others, through new communication tools. As the UL, I feel it’s important to ensure we are connecting with all employees regularly, to acknowledge and try to reduce the feelings of anxiety and isolation that are sure to be affecting everyone to different degrees. We seem to be holding more meetings than ever, and chatting and sharing photos to maintain our sense of community. We continue to progress with various projects that ensure employees are involved in a range of activities, such as policy and procedures development. I am planning to hold our strategic planning session via MS Teams, and so it will be an interesting challenge to try to engage all employees through that platform. My practice is to create as much structure and routine as possible, for myself and my employees, to ensure that we continue to be a functional and supportive team, throughout this challenging time.


Debbie Schacter

Dr. Debbie Schachter is the University Librarian at Capilano University in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Debbie is a memberof IFLA’s Library Theory and Research Section, and is Chair of the OCLC Global Council and Chair of the OCLC America’s Regional Council. Debbie also teaches at the UBC Information School and the Langara College Library Technician Program.



Earth Hour

Earth Hour is one of the world’s largest environmental grassroots movements that exist today. Established in 2007 to bring awareness to climate change, this day is observed on the last Saturday of March, and involves millions of people around the world switching off their lights for one hour to show support for environmental issues. Although this day asks nothing more of individuals than to simply flip a switch, this Earth Hour creates a much larger impact for awareness and participation in other environmental movements.

While still bringing awareness to the significance of climate change, Earth Hour has transitioned to placing emphasis on a number of environmental issues including the accelerated loss of biodiversity around the world. Earth Hour states that their mission now is to address the global loss of nature that has happened in the last 50 years, and seek to protect the nature that remains, while also encouraging the growth of biodiversity by fighting deforestation, pollution, and animal trapping.

This year, participants will switch off their lights for sixty minutes on Saturday, March 28, at 8:30pm local time. In the wake of Covid-19, Earth Hour will be celebrated more digitally this year, and there are a number of things you can do to join in.

Before Saturday, you can:

  • Educate your friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues about Earth Hour and encourage everyone you know to take part
  • Join in the #DanceForThePlanet challenge or #FlipTheSwitch challenge on TikTok

On Saturday, you can:

  • Watch #EarthHourLive to see online events around the world
  • Share your photos, stories, and ideas on social media using @EarthHour on Facebook and Twitter, @EarthHourOfficial on Instagram, and/or #EarthHour on all platforms

After Saturday, you can:

  • Continue saving energy by turning off the lights when you exit a room or unplugging appliances not currently in use
  • Encourage others to be aware of climate change and know how they are contributing to the problem or the solution
  • Talk about the significance of biodiversity and take action to support eco-friendly companies and organizations

Earth Hour is sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and partners with other companies like Dropbox, Pocoyo, illains, Scouts, and Love Nature 4K.


To learn more about Earth Hour, visit their website.

To learn more about things you can do, visit the Earth Hour “Take Part” page.

To learn more about WWF, visit their website.


Reconceptualizing Citizenship and Civic Engagement from the Perspectives of Newcomer Immigrant and Refugee Youth

Photo of Liv DavilaOn Wednesday, February 26, Dr. Liv Thorstensson Dávila gave a presentation entitled “Reconceptualizing Citizenship and Civic Engagement from the Perspectives of Newcomer Immigrant and Refugee Youth.” The event was the second in the Center for Global Studies’ Global Migrations series. Dr. Dávila is an Assistant Professor of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership at the University of Illinois’ College of Education.

Dr. Dávila spoke about her research on the relationships between language, learning, and identity in immigrant and refugee youth. Because of the 1982 Plyer v. Doe Supreme Court ruling, all children residing in the US have a right to public education regardless of citizenship status. As a result, the school is the space where many immigrant and refugee children are first exposed to the values, social norms, expectations, and civic ideals of the United States. These youths are faced with questions about their identities as minorities in school, in their communities, and in the US.

Dr. Dávila wanted to understand how newly arrived immigrant and refugee high school students conceive of civic engagement, and how do these students channel civic learning and (dis)engagement through their language and literacy practices in school. She conducted focus interviews with twelve students enrolled at a middle school in the Champaign-Urbana area. The students were all immigrants from the Democratic Republic of the Congo or from Cameroon. Their mother tongue was Lingala, although most of the students were also proficient in French. At school, the students were enrolled in ESL (English as a Second Language) courses on civics, history, and social studies.

The data collected by Dr. Dávila was gathered from 2015 to 2018. The policies and rhetoric surrounding migration are constantly changing, and her research was conducted during the installation of the Trump administration and its subsequent tightening of immigrant policies. The national conversations about immigration at that time influenced how the students considered and discussed their identities as immigrants; they worked to make sense of their histories as immigrants in relation to Black Lives Matter and the Trump administration.

In their interviews, the students expressed strong attachment to their countries of origin, but unfamiliarity with the dynamics of US politics. However, they demonstrated growing political consciousness and understandings of connection (or dissociation) with American histories. For the students, civic engagement was a social process and a mechanism for self-discovery. They developed complex understandings of civic engagement in relation to their personal advancements and rights, and they were aware of the dynamics between race and citizenship. The students took pride in their ethno-racial heritage, but demonstrated keen awareness of their roles as African-identifying individuals living in the United States. They also asked questions about the morality of immigration: who is a “good” immigrant? Who is a “bad” immigrant?

Because of her background in linguistics, Dr. Dávila could communicate with the students not only in English, but in French as well. She observed that the students who participated in her research would often speak their primary languages. Through their use of language, the students tapped into different nationalities, expressing identities in a global context that straddled national boundaries.

Published release of Dr. Dávila’s research is pending. She hopes her work contributes to a more nuanced understanding of international identities and immigration.

For further information and resources relating to this talk, please visit the event’s accompanying libguide.

For more about Dr. Dávila‘s work, refer to her Illinois Experts profile.


International Women’s Day 2020

International Women’s Day, as we know it today, was commemorated by the United Nations in 1975, and two years later the annual holiday was formalized. But when considering this is technically the 45th anniversary of International Women’s Day, it is significant to keep in mind that the fight for gender equality dates back much further.


Glimpses of History:

October 24, 1945: The United Nations Charter “Fundamental Freedoms for All” was created. The founding charter of the UN, the document proposes that fundamental freedoms for all should be promoted and encouraged, regardless of race, gender, language, or religion.

June 21, 1946: The Commission on the Status of Women was established to promote gender equality and female empowerment.

December 10, 1948: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations and introduced to the world. This document argued that every person has the right to fundamental freedoms and inalienable rights.

March 8, 1975: The United Nations chose 1975 (International Women’s Year) to contain the first International Women’s Day.

December 18, 1979: The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was adopted by the United Nations. This document defined what it means to discriminate against women.

December 20, 1993: The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women was adopted by the UN. This defined various forms of violence and enabled the people around the world to recognize violence, and take action against it.

September 6, 2000: The Millennium Development Goals were adopted by the UN, and countries from all over the world pledged support to fight for an end to poverty and hunger; educational inequality; gender inequality; child mortality; maternal health issues; and HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; and to support environmental sustainability, and work for global development.

July 2, 2010: The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women was created at the UN General Assembly in an attempt to accelerate the progress being made to meet the needs of women and girls worldwide.

July 12, 2013: On the day of her sixteenth birthday, Malala Yousafzai delivered her historic speech and reminded us that, so long as half of the population of the world is held back, we cannot succeed.

September 20, 2014: Famous British actress Emma Watson launched her campaign “HeForShe”, calling for men and boys to join the fight for gender equality.

January 21, 2017: Nearly half a million people gathered in Washington D.C. and marched with their pussyhats to remind American governmental officials that women’s rights are human rights. This march sparked over 600 sister marches around the United States, and the pussyhat became famous. ______________________________________________

Held annually on March 8th, International Women’s Day celebrates the success and accomplishments of women worldwide in an attempt to fight for, and end, gender inequality. This year marks a special International Women’s Day, as it commemorates a number of anniversaries including the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action; the 20th anniversary of the UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security; and the 10th anniversary of UN Women’s establishment.

The theme for 2020 is #GenerationEquality, and seeks to suggest the possibility of demolishing gender inequality in this generation. Although great progress has been made, there are still barriers to universal gender equality. But we can all do something! On this Sunday March 8th, think of all the special women in your life, and consider how you can contribute to the fight against gender violence and inequality. Stand alongside your sisters, and/or pledge your allegiance to the HeForShe campaign. Do your part! And hopefully we will all see an end to gender inequality soon.


For more information about the history of International Women’s Day, go here.

For more information about this year’s theme, go here.

For more information on events happening around the world, go here.


International Mother Language Day

International Mother Language Day is observed on the 21st of February every year. This year’s theme is “Languages Without Borders”, and the United Nations seeks to spread the idea that “local, cross-border languages can promote peaceful dialogue and help to preserve indigenous heritage” (

International Mother Language Day was proclaimed at the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1999, and emphasizes the importance and diversity of spoken languages all around the world in hopes to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and encourage multilingualism. Nearly 43% of the world’s 6,000 languages are considered endangered today. This means 2,580 mother languages are at risk of being forgotten. Language Endangerment can happen for a variety of reasons, but the result is the same—when a language is lost, so is a group of people’s cultural and intellectual identity.

Language preservation is vital, as it preserves the historical and cultural heritage of a group of people, and in a world where globalization is influencing the languages people speak, lesser known languages are suffering. Non-western educational systems often chose to operate in western languages, leaving students to abandon the language they speak at home with their families and friends, and businesses that interact internationally largely utilize western languages too. By encouraging multilingualism, organizations like the United Nations are trying to create a mindset where it is socially acceptable to use a number of languages, including your western language of choice and your mother language, inspiring individuals to choose to learn new languages while maintaining the ones they already speak. Join in celebrating International Mother Language Day today and everyday by recognizing the many languages other people speak, encouraging multilingualism, and maybe even learning a new language!


*Quote taken from: UNESCO. “International Mother Language Day.”, Accessed 20 Feb 2020.

For more information about International Mother Language Day, visit the United Nations’ “Safeguarding Linguistic Diversity” page found here, or the “International Mother Language Day” event page found here.

To see a complete list of scheduled events, look here.


Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week

Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week, celebrated by academic and cultural institutions around the world, is scheduled for February 24–28. No matter how you choose to participate, the event provides an opportunity to reflect on the value of fair use laws for virtually everyone in society, even for individuals uninterested in copyright law.

Fair use gives content creators limited control over the use of their creations. In practice, this means work can be critiqued, parodied, or dissected. Books can be quoted. Art and media can build upon existing concepts and works to enrich the culture. Information can be indexed and digitized. New software can read older file formats. Copyright laws can more reasonably adapt to new technology, and individuals can exercise their freedom of speech.

Essentially, fair use is vital for the continued functioning of culture, education, news, and scholarship around the world. Fair use, as it is referred to in the United States, is known as “fair dealing” in Canada. Other countries around the world have also implemented fair use laws. On a global level, fair use means that scholars, scientists, and students can study and share information without fear of penalty or repercussion. At the Center for Global Studies, fair use Is essential to our mission to “promote and support innovative research to better understand global issues confronting the world’s populations and identify ways to cope with and resolve these challenges.”

Want to learn more? Take a look at the Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week website, maintained by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). For information about the role of fair use in academic work, check the University Library’s Copyright Reference Guide.

Above images used courtesy of the ARL. Licensed under CC BY 4.0.


Conflict, Migration, and Return: Negotiating Registration and Displacement in Ukraine, 2014-present

On Tuesday, January 28, Professor Cynthia Buckley gave a presentation titled “Conflict, Migration, and Return: Negotiating Registration and Displacement in Ukraine, 2014-present.”

Buckley, Professor of Sociology, began with a slide that stated “We know, we care, and we love Mary Louise Kelly.” Before beginning, she wanted to make the point that, despite negative public opinions, people do in fact know where Ukraine is, and they know and care about what is happening there. Buckley reiterated that the conflict in Ukraine is worthy of discussion now more than ever, and suggested that an analysis of the conflict in Ukraine can apply to a larger discussion of how global displacement is growing.

Buckley briefly discussed her participation within the Central Eurasian State Capacity Initiative (CESCI). Professor Buckley has also been a part of the Minerva Research Initiative since 2019 with Erik Herron, WVU, and Ralph Clem, FIU. Together this group has worked toward establishing state capacity, and its coercive, extractive, and bureaucratic nature, as a conceptual framework. Buckley explained individual and regional experiences of bureaucratic capacity differ within states, and suggested this uneven state capacity provides a unique lens with which to analyze marginalization.

The heart of Buckley’s presentation came from her analysis of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS). There are currently 1.5 million IDPS living in Ukraine alone. This displacement instigates a number of challenges, and IDPS are being referred to around the world as “The New Global Threat”. In Ukraine specifically, IDPS challenge internal sovereignty, and issues relating to property rights, voting rights, and service access are becoming more prevalent.

Professor Buckley has two undergraduate students from UIUC working with her on this project, Grace Ruxlow and Jarod Fox. Jarod, a senior in Global Studies and a Geography major, further contextualized the conflict in Ukraine by presenting a number of maps made by bringing data points together to show attacks on healthcare institutions and schools. With his finished product, Fox was able to illustrate that there has been a serious compromise of healthcare in the eastern regions of Ukraine, and education in the west. 

Over 15,000 people have been displaced from the eastern regions near the conflict line, and Fox identified three groups of people who are moving out of the eastern regions: working age people, people with children, and pensioners. Working age people are migrating to other parts of the country rather evenly, as they move to the areas that have job opportunities. People with children want to move their families as far away from the conflict as possible, but this means that children are moving to the western regions where the education system is inferior. Pensioners, in opposition, want to remain close to their homes, so they migrate as little as possible, and those that do are displaced to other eastern regions. But the problem with this lies in the fact that the eastern regions have inadequate healthcare services because their hospitals and clinics are being shelled.

Buckley concluded by suggesting that an analysis of how and why people are internally migrating in Ukraine can apply to other areas with significant migration like Syria and parts of Africa, and urged the audience to keep in mind that the number of IDPS around the world is growing, even more quickly than the number of global refugees.


For more information and resources relating to this talk and the conflict happening in Ukraine, visit the accompanying libguide found here.

For more information relating to the Minerva Research Initiative, visit their main website found here.