Understanding the Global Community

This semester, I took IAS 2003: Understanding the Global Community, which is a required course for Global Engagement Fellows. Going into the course, I expected it to be interesting, but I didn’t expect us to cover such a wide range of fascinating topics as we did.

We started out by discussing globalization from different viewpoints. In the American educational system, we are often only exposed to the view of globalization held by most Westerners. In this class, we looked at both its positive and its negative effects, and explored the factors which can affect a cultural group’s or a person’s opinions on globalization. This moved into a discussion on development, capitalism, and neoliberalism.

From there, we started our final two units, and it was these two I found most interesting. Each unit was based on a book, first HIV Exceptionalism: Development through Disease in Sierra Leone by Adia Benton, and then The Spectacular Favela: Violence in Modern Brazil by Erika Robb Larkins. HIV Exceptionalism discussed the effects of an over-focus on HIV treatment and prevention in Sierra Leone, at the expense of other public sectors. The Spectacular Favela explored the impact of the essentialization and commodification of the Brazilian favela (slums) on violence and corruption within the slums. Each of these books brought up points I had never considered about how a Western viewpoint when interacting with the rest of the world can have serious, and often negative, results.

We finished the semester with a discussion about climate change and climate justice, which is based on the idea that certain communities are less responsible for climate change but experience more dramatic negative impacts. Every topic covered in this class helped me to broaden my worldview and understand how the rest of the world may think differently from me. From what I’ve heard from other people, the curriculum for this course may change from semester to semester, but I’m sure each class is just as engaging and thought-provoking as this one. I’m so glad I got the chance to take this class, and I hope to be able to take another one like it during my time at OU.

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