Teaching Globalisation (18 Apr 05)

Date: 18 April, 2005
Location: CILT, London
Event type: Seminar

Location map | Programme | Abstracts


The global is claimed to be the natural order in today's technologically driven world in which time-space has been compressed, the 'end of geography' has arrived and everywhere is becoming the same. The view of globalisation as an inexorable, and virtually unstoppable, force which can only be accommodated, rather than resisted, has become the conventional wisdom in neoliberal political and business circles and employed a rhetoric to justify particular kinds of decisions. In fact globalisation consists of a number of distinct, but overlapping discourses in which meaning is highly contested.

- Dicken (2000: 315)

Programme for 18th April
10.30 - 11.00 Registration and coffee
  Session 1: Globalisation and literature
11.00 - 11.30 Globalisation in Hari Kunzrus Transmission
Dr Judith Seaboyer, University of Queensland
11.30 - 12.00 Contemporary Non-Indigenous Fiction: Displaced Subjects, Contested Identities
Dr Goeran Nieragden, University of Cologne
  Session 2: Global citizenship and responsibility
12.00 - 12.30 Critical Citizenship for Alternative Globalisations
Dr Jon Cope, University of Keele
12.30 - 13.00 Scholarship vs. Values: the Higher Education dilemma
Dr Yolande Knight, University of Plymouth
13.00 - 14.00 Lunch
  Session 3: The global and the local
14.:00 - 14.30 Critical Networks: Using the Internet in World Issues Curricula
Dr Anthony Gristwood, Visiting Fellow in Geography at the ISC of Queens University (Canada), Herstmonceux Castle, Hailsham, East Sussex
14.30 - 15.00 The Globalisation and Localisation of English: A Pedagogical Perspective
Dr Mario Saraceni, University of Portsmouth
15.00 Tea and plenary discussion



Globalisation in Hari Kunzru's Transmission

Dr Judith Seaboyer, University of Queensland

Kunzru has said in interview that the novel's title is a metaphor for the transmission of people, disease, information. Linked to this are metaphors of the haunting by alienation of the kinds of global interconnection that are an effect of the new technologies.

I plan to teach Transmission to a first-year contemporary literature class as a way in to discussing broad issues of globalisation. I would argue that this novel is in the tradition of British realism going back at least to the Victorian period in that it uses the familiarity of the personal to draw attention to, and to explicate, issues in the public sphere. It is for this reason it should prove so seductive an entrèe to, for example, documentaries like The Corporation. Kunzru wittily addresses globalised brand marketing of clothes, interior design, and food, for example, against a background of global economies and subaltern and dominant cultures.

To return to the idea of transmission, everyone and everything is on the move in this text, transmitted across borders from one (cyber)space to another. Borders are increasingly policed, but they are selectively porous, allowing skilled cheap replaceable workers to cross while keeping out elements considered dangerous to the body corporatesuch as refugees. The computer viruses Kunzru's central protagonist works to keep from crossing borders in cyberspace become a metaphor for people like him, a highly talented young immigrant computer programmer whose entry into the United States on a restricted visa is enabled by a company aptly named Databodies. It is a post-industrial form of indentured labour, and Arjun Mehta, who is transmitted from New Delhi to Silicon Valley, brimming with the promise of the American dream, joins the giant pool that is the new class of dehumanised ill-paid immigrant workers. When he has work, most of his pay must go to pay the rent in a shared house in the shadow of the humming transformer of an electricity substation. He has no job security, but in his naivety he believes that if he proves his worth he will be valued. When he is laid off from his job as a virus tracker as a result of the collapse of the dot.com bubble, he creates a brilliantly complex virus in order to prove his worth by destroying it and, in the process, restoring Virugenix's failing fortunes. The virus he [releases] into the wild is a swarm, a horde that continuously, uncontrollably mutates to invade and infect every organ of the world body, wreaking havoc on global economies, but also of course on individuals. The rather heavy-handed (but very effective) metaphor is that the repression of the subaltern is like a virus that, whether with malign intent or not, undermines the dominant culture.

Contemporary Non-Indigenous Fiction: Displaced Subjects, Contested Identities

Dr Goeran Nieragden, University of Cologne

This talk takes English novels by Hanif Kureishi, Zadie Smith, Christopher Hope, David Dabydeen, Timothy Mo, Jackie Kay, Buchi Emecheta, and Bharati Mukherjee as a battleground for the shaky and volatile character of any attempt to base a sense of belonging on territorial, local, spatial foundations. It will be shown that this strand of fiction writing, produced without exception by the "not quites" (Mukherjee), dislocates its fictive personalities, and refutes any concept of a fixed and stable self. Rather, it promotoes a quest for selfhood against the backdrop of conflicting and heterogeneous discourses of various thrusts (politics, power, positions). It thus contributes significantly to raising the awareness of literature students of key globalisation issues such as placelessness, uprootedness and homelessness.

A number of approaches will be suggested which weaves together insights from narratology, imagology, and sociology for the purpose of advocating contemporary fiction as a vademecum for understanding contemporary society. Although the focus is on Great Britain as "a collection of interlocking cultures" (David Damrosch), the scenario outlined serves as a toolkit for a general, multinational attempt at teaching difference and tolerance through teaching fiction.

Critical Citizenship for Alternative Globalisations

Dr Jon Cope, C-SAP, University of Keele

Citizenship and sustainability are currently two of the major policy initiatives being promoted through Higher Education. Curricula across the whole spectrum of HE are expected to address these rather slippery concepts without any concise definition of what is meant by them. However, understood in the context of a global market for education, of the network society' and knowledge economy', rather limited, corporate-driven, discourses of citizenship and sustainability are in danger of becoming dominant. Citizenship remains tied to a (neo)liberal theory of the state as the only conceivable site of political action. Sustainable development becomes little more than a fig leaf for sustainable growth at the expense of human development.

This is the current logic of globalisation, a process of profound historical change that is now, perhaps rather late in the day, beginning to transform the ivory towers of academia. Of these many changes, those that affect curricula are among the most contentious. The incorporation of citizenship and sustainable development across all disciplines suggests an increase in interdisciplinary requirements, the context of globalisation, with its myriad definitions and implications would seem to necessitate a similar trend.

This paper highlights some opportunities provided by the citizenship and sustainability agendas for engaging critically with the concept of globalisation. The study of key aspects of globalisation such as migration, social justice, climate change or shifting/declining sovereignty, opens up a range of ways in which concepts of critical citizenship and more ecologically informed notions of development' can be pursued. It draws on the work of Friere and Gramsci to argue for a more radical pedagogy which develops the critical capacities to not only reflect upon, but act to counter the hegemony of neoliberal forms of global governance

Critical citizenship for alternative globalisations requires learning that relates theories of globalisation to the practice of politics and thus an understanding that globalisation is a process driven, directed and potentially altered by actors. Transferable skills become the kind of critical capabilities required to understand neoliberal globalisation and to facilitate alternative visions of the future. Theoretical understanding of democracy can be developed through active engagement in politics either at the local or the global level, inside or outside the university.

Making connections with civil society and community organisations will sometimes gain support from University management and many groups are looking to work with students. Examples include People and Planet, ATTAC, Student Action for Refugees (StAR) and the student volunteering network. Similarly the NUS supports students in creating their own societies and lobbies, many of which have a direct relevance to the politics of globalisation and resistance such as trade justice and anti-war networks.

This paper, drawing on experience of (and interviews with) students and staff engaging politically in a variety of fields, argues for closer links between the learning and teaching of globalisation in the abstract and engaging with it's material effects on society. It suggests that what students learn about globalisation in the classroom needs to be disseminated into wider political networks and that experience of acting in such networks enhances not just deeper citizenship, employability and transferable skills but furthermore facilitates deeper forms of learning.

Scholarship vs. Values: the Higher Education dilemma

Dr Yolande Knight, University of Plymouth

Sustainable development, globalisation and citizenship are all headline news for our society at present. For the Higher Education community too, these issues are of concern for many practitioners. The publication of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) consultation document on Education for Sustainable Development at the start of 2005 is already drawing out varied and passionate discussion within the HE community on the very nature of these issues and on the realities of pedagogy and delivery in the classroom.

The Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (GEES) is at the forefront of a number of projects covering these three major issues. The nature of the GEES disciplines and previous work carried out by the Subject Centre, the GEES HE community and cognate Subject Centres have allowed this community of practice to build on current practice and further develop synergies between areas of learning and teaching such as Employability, Citizenship, Globalisation and Sustainable Development.

Pertinent projects will be introduced and discussed with participants, and the two Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) in Education for Sustainable Development will also be introduced. Participants will also be asked to consider a number of issues currently facing the GEES Subject Centre with respect to the development and dissemination of these projects: any feedback will be gratefully received!

Critical Networks: Using the Internet in World Issues Curricula

Dr Anthony Gristwood, Visiting Fellow in Geography at the ISC of Queen's University (Canada), Herstmonceux Castle, Hailsham, East Sussex

Drawing on the author's own classroom and e-tutoring experiences, this paper critically assesses the pedagogical value of three related web resources in geographical' teaching at undergraduate level, with particular attention to the needs of non-specialist and international/ESL students from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Each resource type is introduced and explored in terms of classroom practice, technological and logistical practicality and ethical issues.

Firstly, the use of Web Portals is examined as a means of collecting and organising new teaching and learning resources and training students in effective internet research as potentially critical consumers of rapidly changing global information flows. A variety of case studies will be examined in practice such as the author's own web portal, Geography Globe (http://homepage.ntlworld.com/anthony.gristwood). Secondly, the Web-log or Blog is assessed as a technology to extend and focus class participation around current global issues and events, with reference to the author's GeogBlog project (http://geog-blog.blogspot.com) and others. Thirdly, opportunities for collaborative class production and publication of online materials are examined in the context of the Wikipedia project (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page) as a globalised, multi-lingual, open-source encyclopedia. Some ethical implications of such work are discussed, including issues of corporate control, global access, assessment and plagiarism.

The paper focuses closely on the opportunity offered by such projects for developing student awareness and engagement as global citizens and the potential contributions offered by such technologies to knowledge transfer and collaboration between the developed and developing world.

The Globalisation and Localisation of English: A Pedagogical Perspective

Dr Mario Saraceni, University of Portsmouth

English is increasingly often referred to as a "global" language, a "world" language or an "international" language. All these terms stem from the fact that English is by far the most widely spread language in the world and has become the de facto international lingua franca in many domains, including science, technology, medicine, air travel, etc. Also, there are more people learning English than any other language worldwide. The globalisation of the English language, however, is not only a matter of sheer numbers. Indeed, there are certain issues which concern sociolinguists and challenge teachers of English:

  1. English and imperialism: is the spread of English driven my economic forces and does it re-iterate the colonial paradigm of the superiority of Judeo-Christian societies?
  2. English and language death: does the spread of English cause the death of minor languages and the decline of other 'big' languages?
  3. English and englishes: is there one Standard English or is this language fragmenting into increasingly unintelligible varieties?

My paper will contend that it is the answer to this last question which may provide indications of possible approaches to a type of teaching which is ideologically, culturally and linguistically aware of the global as well the local roles of the English language around the world.


Dicken, P. 'Globalization', in Johnston et al (eds.) Dictionary of Human Geography 4 th Ed (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), pp. 315-316

Event report: Teaching Globalisation: developing interdisciplinary pedagogies for a changing world

by Peih-ying Lu, University of Glasgow

Boundaries between countries are claimed to be diminishing with the advent of high technology and globalization. Internationalization and globalization have become buzzwords in most countries. In my home country, Taiwan, English is widely accepted as a lingua franca and is playing a significant role in the process of internationalization that is taking place in the country. At the micro-level English education is expected to elevate internationalization of institutions of higher learning because they are considered as intellectual, scientific and technological capital and they will eventually lead to the macro-level of the internationalization of the country.

However, internationalization or globalization should not be merely catchall phrases.' English is not a panacea for internationalization. Teaching globalization in the language classroom at the tertiary level is therefore becoming important. This seminar was very helpful to me in terms of developing interdisciplinary pedagogies and facilitating students' "intercultural" competence in this "global village." The seminar consisted of three sections: globalization and literature, global citizenship and responsibility, and the global and local, which all together provided very good ideas about how teachers can develop interdisciplinary pedagogies in the HE classroom. Literature is considered a more universally appealing' content as it is generally about human life. Therefore, sociocultural facets in the literary works can be explored. The speakers presented different layers in multicultural non-indigenous literary texts a teacher could explore in terms of globalization. This is very interesting when a language teacher wants to use works of literature as materials to teach globalization. Critical citizenship is significant in particular because of the hegemony of English speaking culture brought about globalization. To educate university students to become critical citizens and responsible professionals in the future is an important issue. Providing students with opportunities to be critical thinkers by engaging global issues in the classroom would help students keep their own cultural identity in the current of globalization. Learning about global issues also helps students know more about the realities and specific cultures of other countries. This will further aid students to develop competence in negotiating the global and the local in the future. The final section discussed the dominant influence of English language in globalization as it is increasingly often referred to as an "international" language. To "appropriate" instead of to "abrogate" English has become an issue in a lot of countries. Resisting linguistic and cultural imperialism has been heatedly debated over the past decade. However, because English is becoming de facto the only powerful "global" language, the "local" role English language has its significance. This last topic offers a view of possible approaches to a type of teaching which is ideologically, culturally and linguistically aware of the global as well as the local dimensions of English education.

Overall, this seminar has provided me a variety of perspectives on how teachers can renovate language education in the new era of globalization. I hope in the future the Subject Centre can organize more seminars that will encourage more interdisciplinary studies in higher education.