Monday, July 4, 2016

Global Education in the Age of Donald Trump, Brexit, and Rising Nationalism

Was I wrong? In 2009, I wrote in my dissertation that nations and their people are increasingly connected to a complex global system which there was and is no retreating. However, recent events like the Brexit, the rise of Donald Trump, and increasing nationalism around the world (i.e. China, Saudi Arabia, France, Brazil, Germany, etc.), could make one reconsider such a statement. Maybe, as Ross Douthat in the New York Times puts it, “From now on the great political battles will be fought between nationalists and internationalists, nativists and globalists.” Judging from today’s political climate one could easily argue the nationalists/nativists have the upper hand.

As I was flying into China to begin my stay as a visiting faculty member at Henan University, mind you to help faculty promote global perspectives in their teaching, I came across two NY Times editorials on Globalism, one from the far left and the other from the middle right. ThomasFriedman (6-29-2016), a long time defender of globalism and free markets, tried to make sense of the Brexit and the rise of Trump. Friedman notes that “The pace of change in technology, globalization, and climate [has] started to outrun the ability of our political systems to build the social, educational, community, workplace, and political innovations to keep-up.” As a result of governmental failures to ensure these institutions keep pace, many citizens have been displaced, dislocated, and frustrated by these global forces.”  Instead of politicians focusing on the problem of offering meaningful solutions on how systems can be better reformed and adequately funded to ensure successful integration politicians focus on easier, weaker pray; namely, immigrants and globalism.  Friedman correctly argues, globalism and multiculturalism have built the world’s most prosperous and powerful states in the 21st Century. They attract the best talent, investment, and are the most stable. Instead of allowing these global and multicultural forces to destroy us and pull us part, key reforms should be made to use these forces (Globalism and multiculturalism) to promote global growth, stability, and peace.

In the same NY Times Edition, Senator Bernie Sanders (6-29-2016) explains why workers and the middle-class have turned their backs on Globalism and the EU by voting to Brexit. Sanders blames voters’ decision on their observing the richest in the country accruing great wealth, while experiencing a declining standard of living. Because of misguided policies and a lack of governmental regulation, Sanders notes Globalism has left the middle and lower class and their families further behind. Instead of making Globalism work for everyone, Sanders states, “the world’s economic elites (top 1%) now owns more wealth than the whole of the bottom 99%.” Vast income inequalities have resulted in frustration and rejection of an unfair global economy that seems rigged to only protect the wealthy and corporate interests. While Sanders doesn’t acknowledge the great gains that have been made through Globalism in alleviating global poverty in the developing world, he is quick to point out how workers in many developed countries have been displaced and affected through unfair trade policies. Senator Sanders argues, much like Friedman, for not throwing the “baby out with the bathwater” but better reforming the international system to protect all workers and their families, the environment, and to slash global gains in military spending.

"Reforming the international system to protect all workers and their families, the environment, and to slash global gains in military spending"

Was I wrong in my 2009 assertion, like many others that claimed nations and their people are and forever will be increasingly connected to a complex global system which there was and is no retreating? Instead of viewing Bexit, the rise of Donald Trump, and increasing global nationalism as a rejection of Globalism I agree with Friedman and Sanders in that it’s time we do Globalism better; namely, we reform our institutions to better reflect the increasingly global and multicultural world we live in. This means undertaking important governmental and grassroots reforms to ensure youth receive a high quality global education so multicultural citizenries in all nations are better prepared to protect workers and their families, our environment, and to promote peace and sustainability. This is the message stakeholders must take away from Brexit, the rise of Donald Trump, and rising nationalism. 

Unlike any other time in the course of human history our world needs educators that are prepared to teach with, about, and for a more just world (Maguth & Hilburn, 2015). Global educators understand how people, places, businesses, and governments are connected across the world. When politicians present easy answers like “keep all the Muslims out”, “build higher walls”, or “withdrawing from the global community” youth that have been grounded in a global education by their teacher ask the tough, hard-hitting questions in order to push back.  These youth understand that building walls and spewing divisive rhetoric against the most vulnerable in our society are never the answer, and instead opt to build bridges of understanding and engage in constructive diplomacy. Our world faces many serious challenges (i.e. alleviating global poverty, ensuring access to clean water, combating global extremism, ensuring gender equality, etc.) and instead of retreating or hiding, shouting hateful names, and pointing fingers, youth grounded in a global education see strength in our diversity and work endlessly for a more peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world for everyone. Now more than ever, the times demand global educators.

Note: This post was written while serving as Visiting Scholar at Henan University in Kaifeng, Henan Province, People’s Republic of China. 

Global and Social Studies Education

The website/blog allows educators in the social studies to reflect upon key issues in the social studies. It also allows teachers the opportunity to access resources that help infuse instructional media and technology, and global perspectives in their teaching.