Weissman School of Arts and Sciences

Weissman Faculty: On Globalization

 

Jeffrey M. Peck
Professor
Dean of the Weissman School

Here at the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, we are an important site for addressing the many issues that emerge from the process of globalization. International and interdisciplinary, we want to confront head on some of the challenges with which globalization confronts us: the urban environment, especially New York; immigration and diasporas; technology and (new) media; and international and regional studies.

As should be obvious, these four foci are all allied, precisely because globalization is accentuated in a city populated by new peoples and communities, which are often linked through technological advancement. While diversity and internationalization are often equated with globalization and may be products of its processes, they are not the same thing. Consequently, our initiative also probes the terms, as well as the activities, the meanings associated with the word, as well as the practices: in our case, its effect on teaching as well as on scholarship. We feel that the study of globalization in all of its manifestations can contribute to a richer and more connected intellectual and public life at the Weissman School and Baruch College.

Currently, the Global Studies Initiative has two goals: 1) to develop a plan for integrating global studies into the curriculum, and 2) to engage faculty in the questions noted above for their research, scholarship, and, of course, teaching.

 

Timothy Hoellein Timothy J. Hoellein
Assistant Professor
Department of Natural Sciences

Researchers in environmental science increasingly recognize that addressing solutions to global ecological concerns such as climate change, collapse of fisheries, and wildlife conservation will require research and communication across traditional academic boundaries. As scientists document natural phenomena such as global nutrient and carbon cycles, movement of plants and animals, and individual organisms’ growth and development patterns, the influence of an ever-increasing human population and its associated activities must always be taken into account. Interdisciplinary collaboration is compulsory to create solutions to environmental concerns, which can only be drafted with a thorough understanding of global human cultures. Collaboration will help ensure limited resources are directed towards the implementation of academic and scientific projects that promote ongoing benefits for ecosystem and public health. Solutions to modern environmental crises must simultaneously encourage fiscal discipline, ecological health, and social justice. This is the major challenge of the 21st century. Students will be able to address these composite challenges as opportunities for innovation only if they are educated to speak the languages of natural science, humanities, and social science.

 

Elisabeth GareisElisabeth Gareis
Associate Professor
Intercultural and International Communication, Conflict Resolution, ESL

Intercultural Communication examines the interaction of individuals from different cultural backgrounds. International Communication explores the macro level flow of information and internationalization of media. Both areas touch upon the core of globalization. As a field of study, intercultural communication allows us to recognize how different cultural patterns and value orientations affect communication in the global village. In doing so, it raises critical issues (e.g., the role of privilege, migration experiences, or ethics vis-à-vis controversial cultural practices) and encourages students to formulate positions. Of particular promise is the finding that meaningful, intercultural contact fulfills the conditions beneficial for prejudice reduction. If applied to the Baruch College microcosm, intercultural communication theory can thus be used to enhance the quality of integration and maximize the diversity experience.

Functioning on a macro scale, international communication addresses the technological, economic, political, cultural, social, and linguistic processes, as well as idealistic-humanistic dimensions of internationalized communication. Topics include the U.S. influence on world cultures, international perceptions of the United States, the North/South split between information-rich and information-poor countries, the role of English as a world language, and the effects of globalization on linguistic and cultural variety around the globe. Students of international communication commonly also study development communication and compare media and other systems worldwide. Becoming aware of conditions in the “global South” and also cognizant of solutions implemented by other countries that could serve as models for the United States, gives students the tools needed to become global citizens and to engage.

 

Joshua MillsJoshua Mills
Business News, General News, Editing, Broadcast Regulation and Technology

Globalization has transformed business journalism in several phases. In Phase 1, American news organizations learned that they could no longer cover the auto industry with a reporter in Detroit – they needed coverage from Japan and Europe, then later South Korea and Mexico, now China and India. This global integration took hold in many other industries as well, including, as we are reminded daily, banking and the financial markets.

In Phase 2, international media companies arose that were at least as powerful as the American giants and gained influence in the U.S. News Corp. owns not just Fox television but Dow Jones, including The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Post. Bertelsmann of Germany not only publishes Stern and is Europe’s largest broadcaster but owns Random House, Ballantine, Fawcett, Bantam, Doubleday, Dell, Dial, Crown, Knopf, and more.

And in Phase 3, the Internet has created a global audience. This increases not only the potential markets and influence of the media, but also the responsibility to think more broadly – and foreign correspondents must recognize that their work will be read not only by the folks back home but by the communities in which they live. Fortunately, Baruch is marvelously situated to respond to these changes, with the major news organizations close at hand, its remarkably diverse student body – and the ability to train students to work as foreign correspondents without having to leave New York.

 

Dov WaxmanDov Waxman
Associate Professor
Department of Political Science

Within the field of International Relations, the acceleration and intensification of globalization in recent decades is widely considered to be a phenomenon of major importance. While globalization should not be applied to characterize every development in the world, it does describe a major change underway in the world today with important economic, political, and cultural consequences. Its consequences for world politics, however, should not be exaggerated. It is not bringing about the demise of the state, the emergence of a single global community, or a world government. Globalization is not all-powerful even in its embrace and impact. Globalization has differential impacts across the world’s regions and upon individual states. Hence, while globalization is producing significant economic, political, and cultural changes, these should not be overstated – there is much continuity as well as change.

 

John Maciuika John Maciuika
Assistant Professor of Art

In the fields of art and architectural history the term globalization offers a means to question the way in which knowledge has traditionally been constructed and disseminated in our disciplines. For example, my Baruch College course “Architecture and the City,” like my graduate seminar “Modernism and Globalization,” questions the common, aesthetically driven arguments that often govern art historical narratives about modern architecture in places as diverse as London, New York, Brasilia, Tokyo, and Chandigarh.

How do local economic and political forces impinge upon architects and their patrons in the making of architecture? How significant are global currents in aesthetics or architectural fashion, and to what extent do these currents yield to regional or local factors deriving from politics and economics? Is globalization primarily an economic phenomenon with vast political implications and consequences, as sociologists like Ulrich Beck argue, or are there other ways to understand the interaction of local and global forces – for example, in what the architect William Morrish refers to as the “glocal” dynamics of outside forces interacting with local phenomena? These and other questions make it worthwhile to employ – as well as to question – the currently fashionable term globalization.

 

Charlotte Brooks Charlotte Brooks
Assistant Professor
20th century U.S., Asian American, urban, race, immigration, politics and policy

In recent years, U.S. historians have begun to rethink traditional approaches to studying the nation’s past. More than ever before, we now strive to place that past in a global context, and we no longer consign everything that occurred outside the nation’s borders to the field of diplomatic history or to another nation’s history. This shift has become quite apparent in a range of fields, from the history of American slavery to scholarship about women’s activism to research on immigration. Students need to encounter these new interpretations in order to understand the historical contexts of globalization as well as America’s place in the world, both in the past and today.

 

Glenn PetersenGlenn Petersen
Chair, Department of Sociology & Anthropology

Because anthropologists by definition (the name of our discipline derives from the Greek term for humankind) wrap their arms around all of human society, throughout the full sweep of its history, our discipline has always been global in its scope. Traditionally, though, anthropologists have tended to study small-scale societies in out-of-the-way places, and come back to tell folks at home what the rest of the world looks like. We’ve grown to be particularly concerned with the ways in which the broader world impinges upon and shapes the lives of the peoples in these smaller societies.

In the past several decades though, anthropology has been paying increasingly close attention to issues having to do with migration, minorities, and cultural differences in the United States and other industrialized countries. In Baruch’s anthropology program, for instance, Prof. Kenneth Guest studies the ties between a village in southern China and the people who leave it for New York City, focusing especially on the jobs they take in restaurants here and the ways in which they participate in religious worship in their new neighborhoods. And for the past 35 years Prof. Glenn Petersen has followed the connections between remote islands in the South Pacific, their young nation-state, Micronesia, and the country’s new role in the United Nations.

Tuzyline AllanTuzyline Allan
Professor of English

Global Studies has emerged as a legitimate academic field from a heightened sense of the interconnectedness of nations and humanity prompted by the multiple changes that took place after the First and Second World Wars. Following the dissolution of Empire and the end of the Cold War, the new realities of mass migration, exploding diasporas, interculturalism, and the struggle for individual and collective agency called for reimagining the world as a ‘global village’ with disappearing borders and interdependent spheres of influence. 

In the academy, the newfound sense of inclusiveness and commonality of experience has kindled in the last fifty years a desire to reexamine existing epistemologies for gaps and inadequacies (about the “self” and “other”) and to investigate the very process of knowledge-making. Questions about the self-perpetuating nature of (powerful) knowledge systems and the formation of social hierarchies has not only created research frontiers in individual disciplines but also the impulse to share interdisciplinary insights. The latter has particular resonance for Global Studies in which the supervening elements of globalization have fueled a quest for understanding the shrinking world beyond the familiar structures of cooperation across the curriculum. Compulsively interdisciplinary, Global Studies opens up the labyrinths of information in different disciplines for an assessment of the core values of our time. Traditionally separate fields such as History, Literature, Sociology, Journalism, and Psychology, for example, can become a staging ground for exploring shared histories and the rapid pace of change. 

It is too early to accurately predict the future of Global Studies, in part  because of its resistance against a niche identity. At Baruch, however, there is a confidence about crossing the disciplinary divide into an active engagement with the transformative power of reconstituted knowledge.


Brian Murphy

Assistant Professor of History

One of the biggest challenges faced by historians is to try to make sense of the world as our subjects understood it. In my case, as someone who studies early American history, I routinely discover people who never traveled fifty miles beyond their home yet were keenly interested in and affected by events happening on faraway shores halfway around the world. Merchants in Buffalo, New York felt the impact of financial transactions in London and Amsterdam, and studied the price of tea imported from India and China. They learned from African seamen about ways of treating disease, or news from Brazil or Haiti. They lived in a world where oceans were conduits of information and bonds of connection, rather than blue spaces on a map that needed to be crossed as quickly as possible.

What I want my students to understand about globalization is that it is about more than commerce or immigration. It is a context for understanding the world and the people, nations, systems, and institutions which inhabit that world. Participating in the world meant different things to people at different times. It could be as ambitious as imagining an American republic capable of coexisting in a world of European nations, or as seemingly insignificant as the bell Thomas Jefferson wanted to install in his house at Monticello in Virginia. He wanted a chime loud enough to be heard by the slaves living and working on his large plantation, so in 1792 he asked his secretary, then in New York, to send to Paris and for something he had heard about. "The Chinese have a thing made of a kind of bell metal, which they call a Gong, and is used as a bell,” he wrote. In 1795, two gongs arrived at Jefferson’s home in central Virginia, and one was installed in his clock soon after.

Michael Plekon
Coordinator, Religion and Culture Program

It is not just recently that the sense of our globalization has risen in consciousness. Those who study the world's religious traditions have recognized this as long as they have compared and contrasted these pathways of faith and the communities who travel on them. More than at any time in the past, given the ignorance and fear that often turns to hatred and intolerance of entire religious traditions, it is crucial to be able to learn about the faith traditions objectively, irenically, humanistically. Routinely, in a class on Southeast Asian religious traditions, not only Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim students, but also Christians, Jews, nonbelievers, and seekers immerse themselves in sacred texts, pilgrimages to the shrines of holy people, follow the migration patterns of communities. Likewise, in a course on the Christian New Testament, not only Christians but Muslims, Taoists, Buddhists, Jews, and agnostics will seek to unravel the teachings of Jesus and the formation of the tradition and communities around these.

Along with politics and law, culture and art, the study of world religious traditions is an important doorway into the challenges of globalization – whether the crisis of the environment or the clash of international policies, these traditions, so often faulted for their divisions and negativity, are also found to contain strong ideas about nature conservation, non-violent conflict resolution, and loving kindness toward the suffering.

Roslyn Bernstein, Professor of Journalism, Director Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence Program

Globalization and the Founding of SoHo: George Maciunas and Petras Salcius

 People often think of globalization primarily in terms of business and commerce but it’s long played an important role in the world of art and culture as well. This is especially true in the country and culture of Lithuania which is often overlooked in sweeping surveys of Western art or globalization.

The rise of SoHo as an artists’ colony in the late 1960s was deeply influenced by the values and concepts imported from farm cooperatives in Eastern Europe. Key transformative ideas that gave early momentum to the development of SoHo were imported and brought to life by the Lithuanian artist and Fluxus pioneer George Maciunas in 1963, as he revived and elaborated conceptions of cooperative support that were developed by the Lithuanian economist Petras Salcius in the 1930s.

Prof. Roslyn Bernstein's new book, Illegal Living: 80 Wooster Street and the Evolution of SoHo, will be published on May 29th by the Jonas Mekas Foundation in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Maciunas was passionate about buying things in quantities and distributing them equitably.  He would buy crates of oranges and potatoes and distribute them to his friends, in effect creating his own little food cooperative. In 1963, after returning to New York from several years in Europe, Maciunas extended the co-op model to housing. He published a one-page manifesto, “Fluxhouse, Plan for an Artist Condominium in New York City,” describing the problems artists faced and proposing, as a solution, purchasing underutilized loft buildings by a not-for-profit corporation and renovating them to provide live-work spaces for artists. His plan envisioned communal resources for artists who would share dark rooms and workshops. For Maciunas, the co-op came first; only later would the resident artists have to deal with the reality that they were living in the buildings illegally.

Maciunas’s grand vision included dozens of co-op buildings, functioning both as individual buildings and as part of a greater whole. Ultimately, he went on to develop 16 buildings, maintaining a special relationship with 80 Wooster Street, Fluxhouse Co-op II, generally acknowledged as the first successful artists’ co-op in SoHo. Although he maintained an apartment in an old tenement building nearby, 80 Wooster Street was his base of operation and the site of his basement office.

Deeply influenced by Salcius, Maciunas transformed the concept of farm cooperatives into live-work artist co-op buildings. Although he was not interested in fighting the city over the issues of zoning and legalization, the buildings that he co-oped did take root. Artists and activists, inspired by the global model, fought for their homes and studios, transforming SoHo into a vibrant and legal artistic community.

The City University of New York