Welcome Message from the Chair of Global Studies
Even though we all now speak the language of globalization, we continue to search for better answers to many of the big questions raised by the realities of living in a globalizing world. What responsibilities (if any) do those of us who live in privileged corners of the global community have towards others who live in places blighted by war or extreme poverty? How do we square, on a global level, the imperatives of economic development and growth with increasingly urgent issues of environmental sustainability? How should we reconcile the promotion of universal rights and values with the recognition, even celebration, of diversity and difference? And how, finally, can we put into practice the familiar adage to ‘think globally, act locally’?
These are the sorts of questions that students and faculty in the Department of Global Studies grapple with on a daily basis. As one of the pioneers in this interdisciplinary field, Global Studies at Laurier has grown over the past decade into one of Laurier’s most dynamic intellectual communities, combining real-world activism and engagement with critical thinking about both the challenges and opportunities of globalization. We offer a four-year Honours undergraduate degree, structured around three main streams – comparative development, globalization and culture, and peace and conflict – while allowing plenty of space for dialogue and debate across streams and across disciplines. For the coming academic year, our course offerings – with titles as diverse as “The Global Lives of Natural Resources”, “Ethical Encounters”, and “Global Humanitarianism” – provide a sense of the wide range of interests and expertise contained within the department.
Global Studies also combines award-winning classroom teaching and innovative pedagogy with a recognition that a great deal of what students learn at university happens outside the classroom. Through our Global Studies Experience (GSE) program, for example, students are encouraged to ‘learn by doing’ through international volunteer placements; in recent years, GSE students have worked cross-culturally in places as diverse as Ecuador, South Africa, and Nepal. Closer to home, during this coming academic year GS students will share classroom space with local prison inmates to explore understandings and narratives of violence as part of the innovative Inside-Out program. Also in 2013-14, Global Studies will co-host the annual conference of the Peace and Justice Studies Association, a major international event expected to bring several hundred scholars, activists and students to Laurier in mid-October.
As Chair of the Global Studies Department, I invite you to explore what Global Studies has to offer, either through our webpages or by visiting us in Waterloo, a vibrant and thriving city one hour from Toronto.
GS 101: Introduction to Global Studies
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People at Laurier
Ali Zaidi is a social theorist interested in the globalization of, and resistance to secular, cultural modernity. He focuses this interest more specifically on intercultural dialogue and criticism, especially pertaining to Islam and the West, or more correctly, Islam in the West. During the 2008 Fall Term he was a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM) in Leiden, Netherlands, where he pondered the effects of human rights discourses on Muslim minority communities in Western societies.
Dr. Ali Zaidi