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Syllabus 2015

Becoming a Global Citizen

SOC 370DV
4 S.H.

Winter term
January 6- January 27, 2015

Syllabus

Elon University

Instructor:                              Dr. Tom Arcaro

Office Phone:                          336-278-6442
Other phones:                        336-263-4578 (c)
Émail:                                        arcaro@elon.edu
Office:                                        Global Commons 210
Office Hours:                           I will be online at some point most days and in the office early afternoons.

Final Examination:          27 January 2015.  All assignments must be completed by 12:00noon of this day.  We will use this time for final presentations, bringing our work to closure, and planning next steps regarding service work followup (letters, videos and AWV blog post).

Introduction
I look forward to working with you in probing deeper into the many critical social problems facing our global community.  In many ways I want you to consider this course an extension of what you learned in GST 110, The Global Experience, and indeed I hope you bring much of that learning and growth into our many online discussions.  We have much important work to do in this class, and by the very act of signing up for this course you have begun to be part of an important –no critical- effort to make the world and more just place for all.

Catalog Discription

In this course we will survey a wide range of global social problems including the current Ebola outbreak, the threat of ISIS, child immigrants from Central America, sex trafficking in Nepal, Thailand and elsewhere, and issues related to global climate change, and other issues and news current during the time frame of our session. Using these crises as a backdrop we will examine and critique the global humanitarian responses to these events/phenomena including both emergency aid and development efforts. Special emphasis will be placed on the lives of the aid workers who are the point on contact between the donors and the beneficiaries of humanitarian aid.  Students will read about and research these topics and will be responsible for presenting to the class on an issue of their choice. Students will be challenged to work together on a class project to actively address one or more issues. Work in the course will be geared toward deepening each student’s understanding of what it means to be a globally aware and ethically responsible citizen.

Course Objectives

The objectives for this course include exploring the following subtopics:

1) Review the major theoretical perspectives in sociology
In order to move beyond merely describing the world we must accumulate a set of conceptual and theoretical tools to help us go from asking the what questions to the why and how questions, i.e., from describing to analyzing and explaining.  Our first job will be to look around the world and be able to know what is happening, but in the end, we will have the goal of offering some critical analyses as well.

The main theoretical perspectives in sociology include functionalism, symbolic interactionism, conflict theory and, more recently, evolutionary psychology.  We will do primers of each as we start the course.  Your Intro to Sociology text will have a chapter covering these main perspectives.

2) Explore a wide range of global social problems
We will examine a wide array of global social problems using both the Internet and readings I will post on our blog.  Each student will present what they learned in their GST 110 course and after sharing those insights we will go on to cover more deeply some of those topics as well as break some “new ground.”

3) Examine the concept “global citizen”
Through reading an array of essays and articles we will explore what it means to be a global citizen.

4) Examine the world of humanitarian and development aid and critiques thereof  in both text and other media.

5) Imagine, write, and send a letter to an elected official addressing and/or proposing a piece of  legislation relative to issues discussed in this course (e.g., US policy toward Haiti).

 

Service component:  Three parts

This course will have a service component in three ways.

1.  In teams of two you will research, write and send a letter to a US elected official.  Detailed instructions will be handed out.

2.  You will either individually or in teams of up to four create a short (3 minutes maximum) video that will be submitted for consideration for either the Golden Radiator Award or the Rusty Radiator Award for 2015.

3.  You will either individually or in teams or up to three research, write and have posted a blog entry 2015 D4D National Conference RFP based on data from the Humanitarian Aid Worker survey conducted by Dr. Arcaro and a veteran aid worker know as J, his nom de plume.

Required Course Materials

I recommend that you get started on these books immediately.  All are available online at Amazon.com and you should order them ASAP.  The Polman book has been ordered through the Campus Shop.

I will post other readings related to our various topics on our blog.  These will either be essays or book chapters.  I may also post numerous “mini lectures” as audio or video podcasts, and you will be required to listen or watch these by specified points in the course.  You will also be sent links to various web sites as we proceed through the term.

Course Requirements
To accomplish the objectives for this course, you will complete the following:

Reading Assignments
You will have several reading assignments throughout the term, beginning with reading the assigned monographs.  There will be additional readings assigned in class from web sources. You should read all material assigned and be ready for discussions on our blog.  All writing that you do for the course should use and reference assigned reading materials as well as any outside research that you do.

Blog posts
General information about content and evaluation:  On a regular basis (at least 2-3 times per week) you will be asked to respond to prompts posted to the blog.  The purpose here is to apply class material with current events as well as expand on and apply sociological thinking.  It is important that students also research and provide academic support for the positions, observations, and perspectives presented.  To be clear, for each blog post prompt you are to (1) respond to the prompt in at least 500 words and with at least two citations (at least one from an assigned readings and/or Sociology Intro book) and one from an outside source, (2) respond to at least two of your colleague’s posts, (3) appropriately categorize your posts. So, for example, for the Assignment 1 post you will click  “Assignment 1″ before you publish. You are advised to write your own response before reading the posts of others.  These posts  (including your responses to colleagues) will be evaluated based on both the quality and quantity of writing.  I will be looking for analytical creativity, good use of research materials, and well reasoned and presented information and points of view.  You cannot pass this course without participating regularly on the blog.  Failure to make regular and timely posts will have major consequences for your grade.

Class Participation and Other Homework
I expect you to participate in class discussions and complete any additional homework assignments that may be asked of you.  All of your interactions on our blog site will “count” toward your class participation.

Summary of Course Requirements and Grading:

  • Blog posts and comments to peers:      30%       at least 2-3 times per week
  • Letter to elected official draft:                15%
  • Letter to elected official final:                15%
  • Video draft w/ documentation:             15%
  • Video final w/ documentation:             15%
  • Aid Worker Voices post:                         10%

General Grading Rubric

Here are the questions I ask when I am grading any student work:

1. Was the assignment turned in on time? (Depending upon the circumstances, late assignments will be accepted but will be downgraded.)
2. Did the student follow instructions completely and correctly?
3. Was the student conscientious in completing the assignment? Did the student put in sufficient time and thought relevant to the assignment?
4. Does the student correctly understand and use the sociological ideas, perspectives, concepts, or theories on which the assignment is based?
5. Does the student follow a format appropriate to the assignment?
6. Is correct spelling and proper grammar used throughout the student’s work?
7. Is the level of depth of analysis, explanation, or discussion appropriate to the assignment?
8. Is the length of the completed work appropriate for the assignment?
9. Has the student shown creativity of thought and style in the assignment?
10. If outside sources were used were they cited properly? Was a list of references included at the end of the assignment?

 

Plagiarism and Cheating

You are required to abide by the Elon honor code at all times during this class.  We will verify your quoted sources for accuracy and any falsified quotes or sources will result in a failing grade.

 

 

 

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Final blog post

Last chapter of the book?

The prompt below was the one that was used for the final exam when I taught this course in 2012.  The essays from this class will be part of a (final?) chapter in our book.  Your letters, written to the Class of 2017, can and should be part of this chapter as well.  

Before you publish categorize this under “Letter to the Class of 2017” 

Just as with your midterm, your final exam blog post will be an act of public scholarship.  In this case your intended audience are members of the Elon University Class of 2016, the students that will be sitting under the oaks outside West in late August listening to Dr. Lambert, just as you did when you started your career at Elon.

A thought:  Over the years as I have watched these incoming first year students I am often reminded of the Zen koan about the cup of tea:

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

For your final exam you are to write an open letter to the members of the Class of 2016 giving them advice or counsel regarding how they should proceed with the gift that they are being given.  More specifically, you can refer to the Elon mission statement which says, in part, that, “We integrate learning across the disciplines and put knowledge into practice, thus preparing students to be global citizens and informed leaders motivated by concern for the common good.”

I will offer these letters [with your permission; let me know if you do not want yours offered.  If I do not hear from you I will assume that it is OK with you.] to Dr. Jeffery Coker, Director of General Studies and the person who oversees all of the GST 110 sections, and suggest that he have them emailed to the faculty teaching GST 110 and then passed on to the students.

In your letter make an effort -though not in such a way that it disrupts the flow and message of your essay- to include insights from our texts, our conversations, and what you have learned in this course.  I do ask you to use the term ‘ethnocentrism’ in your essay.  Be creative, compelling and write the kind of letter that will both inform and move them.

Both email your final essay to me and post your essay on the blog by 9:00PM Friday evening.

 

 

Also posted in Letter to the Class of 2017 | 17 Comments

The Song of Uhuru

Uhuru (Swahili for “freedom”)

Global

I recently went on a journey. It was a journey in search of freedom for everyone and the truth of the world. It was my attempt to understand Africa and it was my opportunity to listen to true stories from people of Africa. It was an extraordinary experience that cannot be exchanged for anything in the world. It was a beautiful dream that I never wanted to wake up. I have met wonderful people and the relationships that I built there are unforgettable. A lot of people have inspired me, the beauty of African nature has mesmerized me, and the spirits have preached me.

While I was in Tanzania, I learned how to haggle properly with the locals, especially with Bajaj (three-wheel taxi) drivers. My friend, Kei and I could almost get the ‘local price’ frequently. For those who never haggled, they paid about twice as much as we did. Most of us international students learned broken Swahili and we instantly adapt it to negotiate with the locals everywhere we went. I thought I was setting a reasonable price for other foreigners so that they can be treated equally. I thought I was advocating the concept of equality to the locals, explaining all humans should be treated equally.

Looking back, that was a mistake. I applied ‘equality’ in a wrong way. I said I wanted to help out people in Africa, yet I tried so hard to give as less as I could. I thought I was fighting against ‘bad’ Tanzanians who are trying to take advantage of foreigners. At the end of the day, they are probably the people who need supports the most. It made me think about impartiality, one of the International Committee of the Red Cross’s principles. Everyone has his or her own stories. I don’t know what’s going on with the bajaj drivers’ lives and what they have to go through. I tried to fight them and judged them when I only encountered with their ‘drivers’ side from them. It was their attempts to fight against their daily needs. Trying their best is not enough for them. It’s extremely hard for them to escape from their usual struggling lives. Those facts and the reality have made them act in certain ways including taking advantages of foreigners. I felt sorry for them but I was jealous of them after I realized their purity and genuineness. It’s the genuineness of them trying their best for their survival. It’s the genuineness that makes almost every Tanzanians call me ‘Mchina (Chinese),’ not because they want to insult me, but because they really don’t bother to think about. It’s the genuineness when my friend could get her passports, credit cards, cell phone, and some Taxi money when she got robbed. It’s that genuineness that saved my life when I had a machete put on my neck.

I promised myself I will do my best to keep this genuineness.

I learned a lot from their mindsets, life styles, and people there and I owe them. If I pay back, we are even. We are equal. No one is more valuable than the other’s. No men should on the men and no men should under the men. When it comes down saving humanity in Africa, I would call it as “team-working with them” rather than “helping them.” Sometimes my fellow neighbors around the world will struggle for a while, for 10 years, alas even for more than 100 years. But hey, who knows, in 500 years, the world could be a different world with whole new structures. At that moment, my nation might need supports from the nations that I’m team-working with right now. The world is one team and everyone is equal. Let us not be blinded and fooled by the system that us humans have created. See through the world and judge yourself what’s right and what’s wrong. You have your freedom and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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Assignment 4 – Corruption Can Happen

When you take a look at our Congress, President, Judges, and other elected offcials, you assumes that in the United States, these people were fairly elected and represent the majority of the electorate. While we live in a country that prides itself on corruption free values, we must realize that corruption does exist in this country. According to transparency.org, the United States ranks as the 19th least corrupt nation in the world, just behind the United Kingdom. And we thought we were the most just nation in the world… (As a matter of scale, Denmark ranks 1st with a score of 90, while Russia ranks  133rd with a score of 28.)

So what does that mean in terms of humanitarian aid? It means that certain nation will be subject to our aid more than others. It means that more NGO’s will be given preferential treatment (at a cost, be it monetary or positional) on where and what of their aid is given. If Company X only wants its aid to go to Sudan and will raise hell until it is agreed to, it is more likely for that to happen than in Denmark where corruption isn’t as prevalent.

Going back to Linda Polman’s book, War Games/The Crisis Caravan, she argues that the way humanitarian aid is given is so important. The way in which the aid is given can affect any region. Just look at Afghanistan. After President Obama decided to withdraw troops from the embattled country, the aid dried up and Afgahni’s were left wondering who would pay for the rebuilding of their country.

Afghanistan

This begs the question: If you cannot give aid correctly, should you give aid at all? This is a complex question because while we undoubtedly ridded Afghanistan of a terrorist harboring regime in the Taliban (or so we believe), it can be argued that the country we are leaving behind is no better than when we found it.

What does it take to turn a corrupt, aid-needing nation into a successful, self-sustaining, free one? It takes blood and sweat. Look at Egypt. They are entering there second revolution in two years, all for the sake of getting the way of governance right. As horrible as the pictures we get from the embattled country, there tell the painful, but true story of a country figuring out how to get it right.

Im just a 24 year old American who is being asked of his opinion on essential how messed up the world can be. If I can see the corrupt, hypocritical, and tyrannical ways in which the world behaves, certainly my peers and fellow Americans can as well. It is up to us to change this and expand the idea of global citizenship in order for everyone to have their say.

-HCJ

 

Works Cited

Anderson, Ben. “This Is What Winning Looks Like – Part 1.” VICE. N.p., June 2013. Web. 04 July 2013.
“Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 View Results Table View Brochure.” 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index. N.p., 2012. Web. 04 July 2013.
Polman, Linda, and Liz Waters. War Games: The Story of Aid and War in Modern times. London: Penguin, 2011. Print.

 

 

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The American Benefits of “Power Africa”

President Obama’s new initiative “Power Africa” plans to “double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa” (Fact Sheet…). With the United States as a financial initiator, President Obama hopes that private investors will follow his lead in donating to this project so that electrical power will be provided to all of sub-Saharan Africa. On the surface, this initiative seems like it will have a tremendous positive impact on the continent of Africa. However, upon further investigation, the true intent of this initiative comes into question. As countries in Africa are plagued by malnutrition, disease, and war, is electrical power really the most functional way to provide aid? If not, who is really benefiting from this $7 billion dollar project? President Obama seems more focused on the political relationship between Africa and America, American interest in African natural resources, and profit for American electrical companies than on the true needs of the African people. The focus of this project must be shifted back to the residents of Africa or the ethnocentric nature of this project will cause it to end in failure

According to Gayle Smith, Obama’s senior director for development and democracy, “more than two-thirds of people living in sub-Saharan Africa do not have electricity, including 85 percent of those living in rural areas” (Jeltsen). It would be foolish to say that providing electricity to these areas would not be beneficial to Africa. In Erika Johnsen’s analysis of the Power Africa initiative, she explains “it is impossible to match the level of economic productivity and living standards of the developed world when a huge chunk of your already meager cost of living goes toward energy” (Johnsen).  However, this project must be executed with the right focus and attitude to really help the citizens of Africa.

Currently, the set-up of “Power Africa” seems to mainly benefit the American people. African countries have become of major interests to developed nations with their promise of undiscovered natural resources. As President Obama forces Africans into dependency on American money and electrical companies, America gains a political alliance with many of these countries. While this may be crucial for American foreign policy, this idea seems like an almost backwards way to provide Africa with electrical energy. Instead of helping Africa to self-sufficiency, this project is prolonging their foreign dependence.

In the book War Games, Linda Polman explains how ulterior motives have lead to great corruption in providing aid. Polman cites the War on Terror as an example in which political influence has lead to the corruption of aid. In Afghanistan, aid workers of neutral organizations are viewed in the same respect as the United States military. Therefore, many aid workers go into hiding and are afraid to walk to streets in fear of being killed. Polman explains “if such military and political intentions lie behind the giving of aid, then surely it’s not far from unreasonable if aid is received with equally military and political intentions in mind” (Polman). Africans will not be blind to the political intent of this aid. Do warring countries in sub-Saharan Africa want American support? Will they see this aid as a threat to their own existence? Aid workers may find themselves in a similar situation to Afghanistan, hiding to preserve their own lives. This will greatly reduce the scope of electrical aid the project is able to provide, and many Africans will suffer as a result. However, from an American perspective, this project is still functional. It will still provide the political security President Obama is searching for regardless of how far-reaching the electrical power extends.

Interest in African natural resources also seems to be an important factor to the Power Africa initiative. The press release issued by the White House explains “although many countries have legal and regulatory structures in place governing the use of natural resources, these are often inadequate.  They fail to comply with international standards of good governance, or do not provide for the transparent and responsible financial management of these resources” (Fact Sheet…). Therefore, President Obama believes he should step in and monitor these natural resources, and will undoubtedly keep American interests in mind in the process. Johnsen argues that much of the money invested in this project will never be used to light the homes of rural Africa, but will instead be used “on the romanticized renewable ventures that are having trouble taking hold even in the economically developed United States and Europe without skyrocketing energy prices” (Johnsen).  Is America truly more qualified to monitor these resources? By whose standards? With control over these natural resources, will President Obama deny their use in Africa for American profit?  This kind of ethnocentric attitude will undeniably result in corruption of this aid project. In the book In the Eyes of Others, contributor Antonio Donini warns that all aid workers carry this kind of “political baggage” that greatly impacts the recipients of aid. Donini explains that the superior attitude displayed by western aid workers does not go unnoticed by the victims, as “many will wonder about the patronizing attitude of the outsiders who were here one day and gone the next” (Donini). Although America may think it knows what is best for Africa, many African residents may have a different opinion when their own natural resources are no longer in their control.

 

A large protest group rallies on the streets as they march to the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, South Arfica, in protest of US President Barack Obama's visit to South Africa on June 28, 2013. UPI/Charlie Shoemaker

Citizens of South Africa protest Presidents Obama’s visit to their county.

Finally, profit for American companies seems to be an undeniable result of this project. Johnsen reports “General Electric will be perhaps the biggest beneficiary of that $7 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds that Obama says will underwrite Power Africa.” (Johnsen). Furthermore, federal financial support will “reduce G.E. financial risks in Africa and will help it compete better against Chinese companies, which have been falling over themselves to invest in Africa” (Johnsen). These kind of financial motives are obviously not in the interest of African residents. Teju Cole warns against this kind of self-motivated aid in his article “The White-Savior Industrial Complex”. Although the American public may see nothing wrong with finically helping our own country while providing a service to Africa, Cole states that there humanitarian aid is more than “ ‘making a difference.’ There is the principle of first do no harm. There is the idea that those who are being helped ought to be consulted over the matters that concern them” (Cole). Have sub-Saharan Africans been consulted on receiving electricity? Has anyone even asked if they want it? Have they been told about American control of their resources? Has anyone explained the long-term American political goals of this project? Sadly, the answer is no.

President Obama has focused the functionality of “Power Africa” on American gains. All major benefits of this project are in the interests of the American public. This project not only is advantage for American politics, but will also help President Obama when public support with this act of “charity”. However, this project does not have to function properly in Africa for America to see these benefits. It does not matter if every sub-Saharan African receives electricity, America will still gain political alliances, have control over natural resources, and allow its own companies to profit. This project has been set up to fail from the beginning. Who is keeping the United States accountable for their promise of Universal electricity to sub-Saharan Africa? Who is monitoring the use of aid money for this project? No one. And therefore, the people of Africa will suffer.

President Obama presents himself as an active global citizen, but then funds aid projects with ulterior political motives. To be a true global citizen, we must learn to separate aid projects from politics. Disguising political advancements as acts of charity is deceitful and unfair to the recipients of aid. Instead, we must keep the interests of aid recipients at the forefront of the project. This includes asking aid recipients about what they truly need and keeping them informed about the project. As Polman points out, “governments and private donors give money based on newspaper headlines, not the extent of urgency and human suffering” (Polman). Aid workers must also be kept accountable for their actions. Aid money needs to be monitored to ensure it is only being used for the sake of the aid project. If “Power Africa” is set up to meet these guidelines, I have no doubt about its success in Africa. However, if the project keeps the same political tactics, I will be sorry for the residents of sub-Saharan African who will suffer as a result.

Below is a graphic summarizing Africa’s energy use and natural resources:

graphic

Sources:

Cole, Teju. “The White-Savior Industrial Complex.” The Atlantic. 21 Mar. 2012. Web. 20 June 2013. <http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/the-white-savior-industrial-complex/254843/2/>.

Donini, Antonio. “Humanitarianism, Perceptions, Power.” In the Eyes of Others. Ed. Caroline Abu-Sada. Doctors Without Borders, 2012. Print.

“FACT SHEET: Power Africa.” The White House. Web. 03 July 2013. <http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/06/30/fact-sheet-power-africa>.

Jeltsen, Melissa. “Obama To Announce New Power Initiative For Africa.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 30 June 2013. Web. 03 July 2013. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/30/obama-africa_n_3524836.html>.

Johnsen, Erika. “Obama’s “Power Africa” Plan: What Happens When Good Intentions Meet Political-economic Reality?” HotAir.com. Web. 03 July 2013. <http://hotair.com/archives/2013/07/02/obamas-power-africa-plan-what-happens-when-good-intentions-meet-political-economic-reality/>.

Polman, Linda. War Games: The Story of Aid and War in Modern times. London: Viking, 2010. Print.

Pictures:

Protest: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2013/06/30/Obama-announces-Africa-electricity-initiative/UPI-18321372602554/

Graphic: http://awesome.good.is/transparency/web/1101/african-energy/flat.html

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Power Africa

President Obama recently visited the University of Cape Town in South Africa to talk about his new initiative in Africa that doubles the amount of power provided to the citizens of Sub-Saharan Africa, a part of Africa where electricity is extremely scarce. Often times governments will boast about the large chunks of money they give to third-world countries without much direction as to where the money is specifically going to. “Power Africa” is different from other development programs in the past in that it works to improve a certain aspect of life for the citizens. Obama is looking to work with the people of Africa rather than above them to help provide better assistance that will last more in the long run.

The use of electricity and the mass distribution of power was one of humanity’s turning points in history. Electricity allows humans to increase efficiency in a variety of different ways and is taken advantage of in today’s first-world society. “Modern energy sources provide people with […] services that are essential for reducing poverty, improving health and education, and increasing incomes” (Worldwatch Institute). Providing those less fortunate with electricity will improve their lives drastically and provide one huge step in leveling the global playing field with those who often take electricity for granted.

A great aspect of Power Africa is that organizations are looking to work with citizens in Africa to further their development. In his speech Obama says, “we are looking at a new model that’s based not just on aid and assistance” (Aljazeera). In “War Games”, Linda Polman stressed many of the pitfalls of providing humanitarian aid supplies throughout third world countries. Many of the resources end up not reaching those who really need it. The spread of electrical power is a neutral source of development aid that will be able to help everyone much more equally than charity that aims to directly increase wealth.

Power Africa works to increase the overall standard of living for people throughout Africa to help bring them into a more relevant spot in the world. This means that Obama’s initiative isn’t completely selfless, it’s also meant to benefit America as well as other countries tied to Africa. Obama clearly states that “[electricity is] the connection that’s needed to plug Africa into the grid of this global economy” (Karimi & Smith). For this reason, it isn’t completely a humanitarian aid project, and shouldn’t be viewed as such. Humanitarian aid, from a Dunantist view implies independence and impartiality, neither of which America is conveying with Power Africa. From a functionalist’s point of view, the initiative is a global partnership intended to further development in Sub-Saharan Africa. Many of its positive functions achieve similar goals to those made by initiatives centered on humanitarian aid. Because it isn’t completely humanitarian isn’t a bad thing though, it still helps to alleviate human suffering in ways other than what it accomplishes directly.

Energy poverty is a huge problem in today’s world, having a stable source of electricity is crucial to staying out of poverty. In his speech, Obama said that he wanted to move away from more traditional forms of international development, partnering with Africa instead of aiding them. “Ultimately the goal here is for Africa to build Africa for Africans” (BBC, Obama), and Power Africa does just that. By funding this new initiative, America help level the global playing field by providing power to those in need. It also helps to benefit the surrounding world by bringing Africa into a more important and beneficial part of the global economy.

 

Aljazeera. “Obama for New Model of Africa Development.” Aljazeera. 2 July 2013. Web.

BBC. “Obama Backs ‘new Model’ for Africa in Tanzania Speech.” BBC News. BBC, 1 July 2013. Web.

Karimi, Faith, and Laura Bernardini Contributed to This Report. “Obama Pledges $7 Billion to Upgrade Power in Africa.” CNN. Cable News Network, 30 June 2013. Web.

Office of the Press Secretary. “FACT SHEET: Power Africa.” The White House. 30 June 2013. Web.

Polman, Linda. War Games. London: Penguin, 2010. Print.

Worldwatch Institute. “Electricity Access Still Insufficient in Developing Countries | Common Dreams.” Common Dreams. 2 Feb. 2012. Web.

 

 

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Individual Research- Blood Diamonds

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Have you ever walked into a jewelry store and admired all the shining, beautiful diamonds? Have you ever wondered where exactly these gorgeous stones comes from? Without being certified by gemological laboratories, there is no way to know where diamonds actually come from. I have a lot of personal experience working with diamonds because I am currently employed with a jewelry store. Each day at work I am exposed to massive amounts of diamonds, whether I am showing a customer a diamond necklace, diamond earrings or diamond ring. Some of our diamonds are certified but that greatly increases the price of these already expensive stones. However, uncertified diamonds could be from anywhere in the world. In the store I work at, we are unsure what continent our uncertified diamonds even come from. With uncertified diamonds, it raises the question of whether or not they are conflict diamonds.

Conflict diamonds, also known as blood diamonds, are defined by the United Nations as “diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council (Diamondfacts.org).” In other words, they are diamonds that are illegally traded to fund conflict in war-torn areas, particularly in central and western Africa (Diamondfacts.org). Conflict  diamonds came about in Sierra Leone in the 1990s (The Digital Universe). After watching the movie Blood Diamond, it really opened my eyes and put into perspective what actually happens to get these diamonds. Something that really jumped out to me was that “thousands of people have died but none have ever seen a diamond (Blood Diamond).” The fact that people are losing their lives over these precious and high sought after stones is astonishing. The movie also brought to light that rebel groups in Africa will go to villages and kill everyone except young boys and men. They capture these boys and men and force them to work in the diamond mines. They work long hours and are often beaten and sometimes even killed. All for a diamond that has a high chance of being bought and sold in America. According to Blood Diamond, the U.S. is responsible for 2/3 of diamond purchases and conflict stones account for fifteen percent of diamonds (Blood Diamond). Something I also found interesting was that an American reporter in the movie, who was in Sierra Leone documenting the violence taking place, said that “people back home wouldn’t buy a ring if they knew it cost someone their hand (Blood Diamond). I think this is a very powerful and accurate statement. A lot of people in our country just simply aren’t informed about conflict diamonds or if they know what they are, they are unaware of the brutality that takes place to get them. I found the following video on CNN’s website which shows the violence in Sierra Leone. http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-881410

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As an employee at a jewelry store, conflict diamonds is something that a few customers have asked us about. A couple weeks ago I was showing a woman engagement rings and she asked if any of the diamonds were conflict diamonds. So how does one respond to this you may ask? Through the company I am employed with, they took the time to make pamphlets that explain everything our customers need to know to ensure in their minds that we do not carry conflict diamonds. In short the warranty for the company I work for states “the diamonds herein invoiced have been purchased from legitimate sources not involved in funding conflict and in compliance with United Nations Resolutions. The seller hereby guarantees that these diamonds are conflict-free, based on personal knowledge and/or written guarantees provided by the supplier of these diamonds (“Our Diamond Sourcing Policy”).” As instructed by my manager, if any customer ever questions or asks about conflict diamonds I am to show them the pamphlet our company provides to each of its stores. The entire pamphlet is shown in the picture below.

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Another jewelry store, that is well-known worldwide, is Tiffany & Co. Tiffany also takes a stand against conflict diamonds and has even protested against them. Something that I found interesting was during my reading of War Games by Linda Polman. In this book it talks about children being sent to America from Africa in hopes of a better life. In regards to these children being sent to America, War Games mentions that “soon after their arrival in New York they appeared as special guests at demonstrations on the steps of Tiffany’s against giving ‘blood diamonds’ as Christmas presents (Polman, 71).” I don’t necessarily think this was the best way for Tiffany to get their message across about their company’s policy and its disassociation with conflict diamonds. They were essentially just using these children, who were from Sierra Leone, to act as a reason why Tiffany does not support conflict diamonds. They may have not had personal experience with conflict diamonds or even had a member of their family taken to go work in the mines. But since they are from the country where conflict diamonds are mined, Tiffany & Co. decided to use them in their demonstration. However, I do applaud the fact that Tiffany took the initiative to speak out against conflict diamonds and encourage consumers not to buy them.

Tiffany-and-Co

Despite the promise of certain jewelry companies that they do not sell conflict diamonds, it is hard to know for sure if the stone is not certified. If someone is still concerned about the diamond they are buying, I definitely recommend purchasing a certified stone, though they cost a little bit more. Certified diamonds come with certificates that give a diamond’s exact measurements, weight, cut and overall quality (kay.com). With certified diamonds, you know everything that you can about the stone you are buying. They also go through gemological laboratories, where qualified professionals state the characteristics of each diamond that comes into their company. With non certified diamonds, you have no idea where your stone is from or any of the qualities that comprise it. Since diamonds are such a special thing to buy or receive as a gift, I highly recommend purchasing certified diamonds. You want to make sure that what you are buying is worth it.

Another way that jewelry companies are helping to stop the process and sale of conflict diamonds is by signing the Kimberley Process. The Kimberley Process started when Southern African diamond-producing states met in Kimberley, South Africa, in May 2000, to discuss ways to stop the trade in ‘conflict diamonds’ and ensure that diamond purchases were not financing violence by rebel movements (kimberleyprocess.com). The company that I work for is a part of this process and mentions it on the pamphlet I talked about earlier. I think the Kimberley Process was a good response to the violence in Sierra Leone in regards to conflict diamonds. The Kimberley Process imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as ‘conflict-free’ and prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate trade (kimberleyprocess.com). The following link shows all of these requirements.http://www.kimberleyprocess.com/documents/10191/14969/0004_KPCS_Document_en.pdf Obviously the Kimberley Process can not entirely stop the violence, sale, and purchasing associated with conflict diamonds. Thirteen years later it is still happening and jewelry stores are still coming in contact with customers who are concerned that their diamond is part of this. But I do think the Kimberley Process is greatly decreasing the sale of these diamonds.

So how does a good global citizen respond to all of this? I think it starts with being informed. A good global citizen should be aware of these issues and violence, much like any other situation in the world. Conflict diamonds should not take the back seat to other issues because I think it is just as important. People are losing their lives so we can have a pretty ring on our finger or pendant around our neck. Being informed is key when it comes to global issues such as conflict diamonds. As a good global citizen, I believe they also have the responsibility to raise awareness about this issue and share their knowledge with others. With more and more people becoming aware of the process of conflict diamonds, it could have a great impact on the future of this industry. Consumers wishing to purchase diamonds should demand to know everything about their diamond or buy certified stones. If you ask and are informed your diamond is not part of the conflict diamond industry, that is one less sale of these diamonds. If more people simply ask about the facts of their stone, it could decrease the demand for stones mined in Sierra Leone.

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I do not think this process can be stopped entirely because 100% of the world’s population is not going to take these easy steps, and the buying of diamonds cannot be stopped either. Unless the world runs out of mines containing diamonds, people are still going to buy them, some of which will not care where they are from. But as someone who is aware of this issue and works for a company that does not tolerate nor sell conflict diamonds, I want people to know was actually goes on in places like Sierra Leone. For the people that don’t care, it almost comes down to greed. They aren’t concerned how the diamond they purchased ended up on their finger or around their neck, they are just concerned about boasting to others the new, shiny stone on their body, as diamonds are considered a symbol of wealth. Another quote from the movie Blood Diamond that I found particularly interesting was again from the American reporter. She said that if she reported the violence that was happening in Sierra Leone, that “people might cry or send a check but it won’t make it stop (Blood Diamond).” I completely agree because many times people see the terror in other countries and want to help but they may just send a monetary donation and call it a day. This may help a little bit but I don’t think it really helps the overall problem. I wouldn’t consider donating money an action by a good global citizen, at least not in the case of conflict diamonds. As I mentioned before, I think a good global citizen’s first responsibility it to be informed and to inform others. Then, take small steps in their daily lives that will contribute to the overall problem. Eventually, this may greatly impact the violence in Sierra Leone and bring the mining of conflict diamonds to a minimum.

References:

“Engagement Rings, Wedding Rings, Diamonds, Charms. Jewelry from Kay Jewelers, Your Trusted Jewelry Store.” Engagement Rings, Wedding Rings, Diamonds, Charms. Jewelry from Kay Jewelers, Your Trusted Jewelry Store. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 July 2013. <http://www.kay.com/ContentView?catalogId=10001>.
“Diamondfacts.org.” Diamondfacts.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 July 2013. <http://www.diamondfacts.org/index.php?option=com_content>.
Budd, Lauralee. “New Movie Puts Blood Diamonds in Public Eye.” U N I V E R S E. N.p., 14 Dec. 2006. Web. 01 July 2013. <http://universe.byu.edu/2006/12/14/new-movie-puts-blood-diamonds-in-public-eye/>.
“Conflict Diamonds: The Uncut Truth – CNN IReport.” CNN IReport. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 July 2013. <http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-881410>.
“Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.” Kimberleyprocess.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 July 2013. <http://www.kimberleyprocess.com/documents/10191/14969/0004_KPCS_Document_en.pdf>.
Polman, Linda, Liz Waters, and Linda Polman. The Crisis Caravan: What’s Wrong with Humanitarian Aid? New York: Metropolitan, 2010. Print.
Edward, Zwick, dir. Blood Diamond. 20th Century Fox, 2006. DVD. 1 Jul 2013.
Jewelers, Kay. Our Diamond Sourcing Policy. N.p.: Kay Jewelers, n.d. Print.
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Humanitarian Outreach

When you think of humanitarian outreach today, you also need to think about how governments or governmental organizations are funded. In the global economy of today, the dollar is squeezed more and more to get the most out of it. Along with that, only the bear essentials are paid for. Then to go on top of that, out of country aid is even harder to procure than in-country aid.

The reason that corporations now handle most humanitarian outreach is because of the obscene revenues these corporations generate. Using Walmart as an example, take a look at the world’s third largest corporation numbers. It generated $469 million in revenue last year. You think it could spare some, right? Well, as long as that money stayed in the United States. Through its, ‘Fighting Hunger Together” program; launched in 2010, it has pledged $2 billion and in-kind commitments through 2015. The only catch…it stays in America. As much as this goliath pledges all this money to fight hunger, is it really as good as doing the same abroad since the U.S. has one of the highest standards of living in the world. What they are doing would have more impact if they moved it outside America’s borders and to those less fortunate…in terms of living standards.

Walmart’s Fighting Hunger Together

Shifting to the governmental aid viewpoint, the story is a much different picture. In 2011, the United States gave $49.5 billion in foreign aid in terms of economic and military assistance. In terms of private organizations giving aid, a private think-tank, The Hudson Insitute, said in 2004, 71.2 billion in private aid was given abroad. The top four countries receiving aid are, not suprisingly: Israel, Afganistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.

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To sum up these issues, one can ask what decisions going forward should the U.S. make in terms of aid giving? Because corporations that are making hefty revenues tend to keep their aid in the US. US Governmental foreign aid is the highest in the world in terms of dollars. However, in terms of percentages, it does not even come close to other nations as a percentage of the Gross National Income. The following chart is from thejunction.net.

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The US gives so much aid, in terms of dollars given that the question of whether it is contributing to global citizenship is moot. While the percentage does not match other countries, the US dominates not only foreign aid giving in such grand terms that other nations should be grateful for the contribution the country does make.

-HCJ

 

Work Cited:

“2008 Summer Olympics Part 4 – China’s Human Rights.” Right Wrong Journal. N.p., 10 Aug. 2008. Web. 25 June 2013.
“Hunger Relief & Healthy Eating.” Walmart Corporate. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 June 2013.
“Walmart’s Fighting Hunger Together.” YouTube. YouTube, 03 Oct. 2012. Web. 25 June 2013.

 

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Failed Leadership In the UN

 

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Hundreds of thousands of Tutsi corpses lay rotting in the streets after the brutal genocide in Rwanda. In merely 100 days, 800,000 Tutsis were hacked to death by Hutu machetes simply because of their ethnicity.  And it would be expected that during such a horrendous violation of human rights, humanitarian aid would have rushed into Rwanda to provide safety and refuge for the hunted Tutsis.  It would be expected to that the aid industry and the United Nations would try to limit the deaths brought on by genocide.  However, during the Rwandan genocide, no help from any Western government or aid organization was to be found. In fact, “policymakers in France, Belgium, and the United States and at the United Nations were aware of the preparations for massive slaughter and failed to take the steps needed to prevent it” (United Human Rights Council).  Why? What was more important than protecting 800,000 innocent lives?

As a contributing author to the book Emergency Sex And Other Desperate Measures: True Stories From A War Zone, Kenneth Cain retells personal experiences in Rwanda in which he grapples with why the United Nations failed to intervene during the genocide. Cain points out that UN troops were already in Rwanda before the genocide started (206). Cain explains “this is not a case when the UN failed to send troops to stop genocide. An armed, predeployed UN force evacuated as soon as it started” (206). Why did they leave as soon as crisis started? Although the real reasons may never be uncovered, Cain argues that UN leadership is a contributing factor. Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, is a major recipient of Cain’s criticisms. During the Rwandan genocide, Annan ordered General Romeo Dallaire, the then head of UN peacekeeping, “to defend only the UN’s image of impartiality, forbidding him to protect desperate civilians waiting to die. Next, it details the withdrawal of UN troops, even while blood flowed and the assassins reigned, leaving 800,000 Rwandans to their fate” (Cain). If Annan had instead ordered UN troops to protect Tutsi lives, would the genocide have been stopped? Although it is impossible to say, it is easy to believe that some lives could have been saved, and with the UN as initiators, Western governments may have later stepped in to end the genocide with the additional use of force.

Cain argues that a main reason the UN did not intervene was because of failure in Somalia and the threat of danger to UN troops. He refers to UN action in Somalia, in which “eighteen Americans die and we [the UN] split” (216).  He goes on the say that the “they knew the UN would never fight, and we’d pull out right away. Which we did” (216). Because of the impending threat of danger in Rwanda, and not wanting to relive the failures in Somalia, the UN decided to essentially ignore the genocide, and “so the Tutsis died a thousands deaths for our cowardice” (215). Why was the United Nations so afraid to risk its own lives? It would seem they were probably worried about tainting the image of the United Nations as an organization. Losing American lives, no matter what the situation, is an event never accepted well by the public. Because there was so much risk in sending UN workers into Rwanda, the possibility of failure was real for Annan. With the fear of negative reporting, criticism by Western societies, and possibly losing his job, Annan probably decided his best option was to not intervene at all. For many aid organizations, saving their reputation and ensuring continued funding are more of a priority than providing aid in areas of crisis. The situation in Rwanda exemplifies this kind of corruption. Like Cain, I agree that the United Nations must revisit their priorities and principles so crises, like the Rwandan genocide, are never allowed to go on with out the assistance of humanitarian aid. 

And although this fearfulness was an important factor, another important contributor was the lack of accountability within the UN. No one questioned Annan’s decision to not intervene in Rwanda. No one asked whether using force, and possibly losing the lives of a few UN troops, might have been worth saving 800,000 innocent people. Cain wonders “how many genocides, the prevention of which is the UN’s very raison d’être, will we endure before the left is moved to criticize Annan?” (Cain). No one is holding Annan accountable for his actions, and it seems that Anna is also failing to uphold accountability within the UN.

Annan failed, and still fails, to hold UN leaders responsible for their corrupt actions. Cain refers UN leaders who would misuse funds to gain a personal profit and pressure young workers into sexual relationships. When Cain reported this to UN officials, they responded “it happens all the time in the field. There is nothing we can do” (Cain).  What kind of leadership allows corruption like this to happen? Cain argues that the UN needs a leader who is not afraid to take risks to save the lives of others. He explains,  “at the very least, he [Annan] could go down trying to save lives, as opposed to going down trying to explain why he didn’t” (Cain). This kind of corruption seems to remain under the radar because the United Nations would never want to be associated with such a scandal. Society views the United Nations, and other aid organizations, with respect and prestige. Therefore, the public and the media alike are often hesitant criticize the aid industry. Therefore, leaders like Annan are able to continue to lead the UN and corruption goes unquestioned. For this kind of problem to be properly handled, the public must speak up about their dissatisfaction with organizations like the UN. Until our frustration with the aid industry is made known, nothing will change. For current victims of crisis, like those in Syria, this is essential. We cannot allow corrupt humanitarian aid practices to keep Syria from receiving effective aid. The United Nations needs to be examined and held accountable for their work in Syria so that we do not visit this situation with the same criticisms as Rwanda.

Annan seems too preoccupied with upholding the “image” of the United Nations to be concerned with intentional crises. Annan ensures that corrupt acts go unreported and violence is avoided to give the UN a “clean” appearance.  As a result, the needs of victims are ignored and innocent lives are lost. As the UN moves forward with current crises, new leadership must be instilled. We must not be afraid to criticize the actions of the UN. If leaders like Annan are not criticized, disasters such as that in Syria may end in tragedy even worse than Rwanda.

 

Sources:

Cain, Kenneth. “How Many More Must Die before Kofi Quits?” Guardian.co.uk. Web.

Cain, Kenneth, Heidi Postlewait, and Andrew Thomson. Emergency Sex (and Other Desperate Measures): True Stories from a War Zone. London: Ebury, 2004. Print.

United Human Rights Council. “Genocide in Rwanda.” N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.unitedhumanrights.org/genocide/genocide_in_rwanda.htm>.

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Midterm

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself” – Leo Tolstoy (88)

Being a global citizen means a number of different things. Global citizens believe that everyone on Earth should be given an equal opportunity to reach his or her fullest potential. It’s being able to view humanity as a whole, picking out what parts are better off than others, and working to level the playing field for everyone. Many people travel all over the world giving humanitarian aid to different third world countries in order to help those in need. This is the easier part though; in order to become an effective global citizen, one must adhere to a mindset where they truly believe in everything they work towards. They don’t judge someone based on their age, race, class, etc, because they see all humans equally. This is much easier said than done. Becoming a true global citizen demands a person to be in touch with their surroundings; it’s a full-time job that demands a lot of effort to successfully achieve.

A global citizen should be able to look at past aid projects to use as models for the future. Functionalism constitutes that every person’s action has a number of different positive and negative consequences that are manifested throughout society. Most times the negative functions, called dysfunctions, are latent until someone realizes them. For example, after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, people came from all over the world to help. One positive function was that thousands of people were provided food and shelter by these aid organizations. A latent dysfunction was the spread of malaria throughout the region that resulted from the Haitians being exposed to all sorts of pathogens their immune systems weren’t ready for (Polman).

The goal of a global citizen, when taking on new aid projects, is to act as a functionalist for the region. Ideally an aid project would have no corresponding dysfunctions, but that’s highly unlikely. A global citizen should be able to seek out the positive functions of a project and work to minimize the dysfunction caused by the project. Latent functions should also be used to the global citizen’s advantage in learning how to model future aid projects.

One major latent dysfunction that we’ve become more aware of in the past decade is the ethnocentrism of many aid organizations and how it affects the perceptions of those being helped. When going to another country and viewing their culture for the first time, it’s near impossible not to judge it based on one’s own. Ethnocentrism is a huge problem among humanity, especially with providers of humanitarian aid. MSF (Doctors Without Borders) recognized this problem of ethnocentrism among their aid workers and did a study on how they are perceived by other cultures, and how it affects their aid. Called the “perception project,” MSF did something many organizations and aid workers would be too afraid to learn about, let alone publish for the world to see. In Abu-Sada’s book, “In the Eyes of Others”, she brilliantly outlines, “what ‘we’ experience is not what ‘they’ experience” (Donini 188). There will always be miscommunication and bias when different cultures come together and exchange customs.

One of the greatest obstacles in becoming a global citizen is overcoming ethnocentrism. Everyone is born with a certain biases engrained in themselves. It affects the way we think, the way we process information, and how view the world around us. It’s not our fault – blame human nature. For example, as humans, when we meet someone new and we don’t like one of the first things we learn about him or her, we subconsciously begin to pick up on every small thing we don’t like about that person to model their personality around. “At some point you will encounter another culture that will drive you crazy, and it will not be pretty” (“Tales from the Hood”). Ethnocentrism is just another form of bias that a person needs to learn to cancel out when providing development assistance to countries with vastly different cultures.

The first step to becoming a global citizen is education, and then comes the service portion. To properly be educated, one needs to experience the world by working on a global scale with those less fortunate. It’s a catch-22, which is partly why it’s so challenging. It’s also a huge responsibility, and forces a person to see, first hand, how unforgiving the world can be to those in third world countries. It’s tough to stay optimistic as a global citizen, something Kenneth Cain struggled with a lot in “Emergency Sex.” Being able to look back on his past experiences, and past failures, helped him build a more positive future. “The very notion of global citizenship is a challenge: it suggests big responsibilities into a small world” (British Columbia). Even when they aren’t doing work around the world, being a global citizen demands that one weighs the large-scale consequences of their everyday actions. Global citizenship is a full-time job.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Febfj41cBmg

Anonymous. “Confronting the Demons Of Ethnocentrism.” Tales From the Hood. WordPress, 17 June 2011. Web.

Arcaro, Tom. “Beyond the Pledge of Allegiance: Becoming a Responsible World Citizen.”

Cain, Kenneth, Heidi Postlewait, and Andrew Thomson. “Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures.” London. 2004. Print.

Donini, Antonio. “Humanitarianism, Perceptions, Power.” In the Eyes of Others. Ed. Caroline Abu-Sada. N.p.: Doctors Without Borders, 2012. 183-92. Print.

Polman, Linda. War Games. London: Penguin, 2010. Print.

The University of British Columbia. “Defining – and Modeling – Global Citizenship.” – UBC 2004 / 05 Annual Report. N.p., 2004. Web.

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