As with any new product from the teaching profession, you have to wonder what the agenda is. After all, if the sole purpose of global studies were to impart a greater understanding of global issues, why would we need a new discipline? Couldn’t teachers simply stress the importance of the existing curriculum in world history, foreign languages, comparative literature, international relations, economics, art history and many others?
The role of the globalized economy is often mentioned, and it may be that many of the new programs with “global” in their name want to train Wal-Mart purchasers who understand international supply chains in Tom Friedman’s flat world. Other global studies programs however seem less concerned with having their students participate in the global economy in the role of, for example, capitalist businessmen. Rather they are concerned with controlling the global economy; in other words, they are madrassas for bureaucrats in a future world government.
The School of Global Studies at Arizona State University claims to be “Transdisciplinary in Strategy, Transnational in Scope, Transformational in Purpose.” The repetition of “trans-“ is cute, and perhaps meaningful. Why not interdisciplinary, international and informational? International—meaning between nations is no longer valid if one has dismissed the validity of the nation-state. Transdisciplinary might have been thrown in to match the rhyming scheme, but it indicates a desire for total understanding, rather than respect for discrete fields of study--sort of an academic power play. And as for transformational—is it really the job of a college to transform its students by forcing a political agenda about the need for world government upon them? Shouldn’t an education give students knowledge so they can reach their own political viewpoints?
The School of Global Studies vision statement is clear about where it sees a problem that needs remedy: “The lack of comparable authoritative global institutions means that reaching such agreement among the peoples of the world is infinitely more difficult.”
In the absence of government and its taxation power the provision of global goods is severely limited. It follows that there is no routine coercive or non-coercive mechanism for the resolution of conflict in shared global space.
“Resolution of conflict” sounds like a high-minded goal, but keep your eye on the “coercive” part.
The case for one world government continues in the vision statement’s depiction of global problems. Number one on the list, naturally, is global warming:
Global climate change has the potential to radically transform the quality of life for everyone on the planet, but how can greenhouse gas emissions and pollution be regulated given current political realities in shared global space? Can a global agreement on reversing global warming be reached and enforced given the existing inequalities in contributions of emissions and the uneven consequences of inaction?
I suspect that the global part is of more interest to global studies than the warming part.
Second on the list is terrorism:
The growth of terrorism (be it secular or religious) creates a demand for heightened global security, but how can global security be attained in the absence of world government?
Perhaps we were too hasty in dismissing the John Birch Society as a bunch of kooks for alleging that the "Real nature of the UN is to build One World Government.” And I’m trying to decipher that parenthetical—secular or religious? What secular terrorism are they referring to? The Basques? Timothy McVeigh?
The description of terrorism concludes with a throwaway line to reassure future applicants of the program’s moral relativist bona fides:
Further, since one country’s terrorists are another’s freedom fighters, the very definition of terrorism is contested.They wouldn’t want to give the impression that they disapprove of terrorism—they just want the world government to control it. Maybe a suicide bombing tax? IED offset credits?