Throughout the course of this semester in Global Citizenship, I had the opportunity to hear from numerous guest lecturers on a variety of very interesting topics. Our class learned about a range of global issues, from islamophobia to drones to the rights of the native people of the Cheslatta Lake in British Columbia, Canada. I personally found Peter Mueser’s lecture on trade and Sherry Mariea’s lecture on women’s rights the two most interesting lectures of the semester. The two lecturers were very knowledgeable on their respective topics, and I was also able to learn new information about topics I had previously known very little about.
Peter Mueser was one of our first guest lecturers of the semester. His presentation focused on global trade. He argued that the true essence of globalization and the reason our world is becoming more interconnected is because of trade. The exchange of goods and services across international borders connects countries that would otherwise not have any reason to interact with one another. Mueser brought up one point that I found particurally interesting. He pointed out that global trade creates strong pressures for world peace. He gave the example of Germany and France. Germany and France fought numerous wars against one another throughout the 20th century. Now, however, conflict between these two countries is very unlikely because they are heavily connected through trade. Both countries have too much to lose by attacking each other. This holds true for numerous other countries throughout the world. However, the most interesting part of Mueser’s lecture was when he discussed sweatshops. Most people believe that sweatshop labor is inhumane and should be abolished worldwide. While sweatshops do submit their workers to questionable conditions and low wages, Mueser pointed out that working in a sweatshop is actually not the worst option for people living in developing countries. The wages they make in sweatshops are better than nothing. If sweatshops were to close down, citizens of developing countries would be left with no consistent income, and would actually be worse off. Of course there are some ethical implications when it comes to sweatshops, but the issue is much more complicated than it is often painted to be.
I was immediately excited when I heard we were going to be having a lecture on women’s rights because I am a strong feminist. Sherry Mariea discussed a variety of very important topics during her lecture, such as gendercide, female genital mutilation, and sex-trafficking. These topics are often very difficult to talk about because of their heavy subject matter, and I am glad our class had the opportunity to become more informed on such important issues. Unfortunately, even though it is 2017, women and girls are still being persecuted and discriminated against around the world. As Mariea pointed out, this is often because of cultural stereotypes that lead men to be judged more valuable than women. Today’s intersectional feminism is meant to fight for women of all ages, cultures, races, and sexualities. What I actually found most interesting about this lecture however was how Mariea did not identify herself as a feminist. Despite detailing the changes in feminism seen in the past 200 years, Mariea revealed that she herself does not call herself a feminist. I found it very interesting how a strong, accomplished woman who obviously believed strong in women’s rights would reject the label of feminist, a word which by definition means someone who believes in the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.
I spent this semester researching the country of Indonesia. I originally chose this country because I knew it was the most Muslim-majority country in the world, and I thought it would be interesting to learn about with the recent backlash against Islam coming in the wake of President Trump’s “Muslim Ban.” Indonesia is a country of over 250 million people spread across 992 islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The relatively new democracy has managed to substantially grow its economy since the South Asian financial crisis of 1997. It is also making an effort to improve its environmental and human rights record. I very much enjoyed learning more about this diverse and populous country.