Colleges and Universities Fail to Meet Demands for Teaching International Relations
Krasno, Jean, UN Chronicle
Colleges and universities in many countries, particularly in the United States, are not offering adequate courses in international relations that reflect current global affairs, nor are they meeting student demands for a curriculum that is more relevant to today's questions. These were the conclusions reached by a highly select group of scholars and practitioners in international relations, law and economics brought together by the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) and the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization for a two-day dialogue (22 and 23 November 2002) at Yale University. Changes in the world at large have put significant new demands on faculty members concerned with international affairs and in most schools classes on international subjects are likely to be overbooked. Nonetheless, a recent American Council on Education report concludes that graduates and their parents are disappointed that colleges provide students with only a limited understanding of the international world o f which they are a part. Across all kinds of institutions, from elite schools to community colleges, students are frustrated that what they learned about the world and the international system did not meet their expectations. They had expected to learn about the place of the United States and other major powers in the world and, since the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, why many people in other countries resent America. They also want to learn about the constraints of globalization.
There is a perception that students and the general public are confused as to what extent countries are under the control of international institutions, particularly the World Trade Organization (WTO). Students have a set of worries about these institutions which is different from past concerns. They want to know how the United States and the major powers can get along with the rest of the world. There is very strong interest in things international; however, this is not captured by the courses currently being taught.
Students also want to know more about the role of the United Nations, which acts as a counterpoint to unilateralism/isolationism in symbolizing multilateralist perspectives, and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan personifies that image. An elaborate dance is ensuing and one critical player is Kofi Annan. It is hard to think who in our political science departments could tell us about the role of the UN Secretary-General or even how the United Nations works.
Specifically, college and university departments have not adequately responded to students who are demanding courses that address international security issues as they interact with trade, finance, health, human rights, the environment and more. Currently, political science departments lack programmes that address …
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Publication information: Article title: Colleges and Universities Fail to Meet Demands for Teaching International Relations. Contributors: Krasno, Jean - Author. Magazine title: UN Chronicle. Volume: 40. Issue: 2 Publication date: June-August 2003. Page number: 22+. © 1998 United Nations Publications. COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group.
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