Globalization Week sparks campus debate
If you're like many students at Bowdoin, globalization is not something you think about on a daily basis. With papers to write, tests to study for, and parties to attend, the average life of a college student does not include the harsh realities that kids around the world face on an everyday basis.
Some of the facts about globalization are often surprising, but assistant professor Joe Bandy and the students in Sociology 225 recently decided to bring global issues to the attention of the Bowdoin community by organizing Globalization Week.
During the week, a series of forums and lectures were available to the public, including a talk given by best-selling author Marc Kielburger. During his lecture, entitled "Globalization's Human Face," Kielburger attempted to personalize the subject of globalization by showing slides of children from his numerous trips to underprivileged nations.
Kielburger described one girl's job of separating used syringes and needles without gloves or protection. Although many Americans do not feel responsible for children living halfway around the world, Kielburger discussed how choices we make affect the lives of these children.
He said in parts of India, boys and girls are forced to haul water long distances to their homes in order for their families to survive. He also added that water that used to flow to their town was recently redirected to a commercial farm growing roses being exported to countries such as the United States.
According to Kielburger, even innocent activities such as purchasing flowers for a significant other serves to support child labor practices overseas.
While one would expect these children to resent the wealth of countries such as the US, Kielburger observed the opposite. "They don't hold us responsible as consumers, they don't blame us, they want to know more, they want to become us."
Some believe the issue is further soured by the fact that child labor is currently increasing in developing nations Others maintain there are numerous economic benefits of globalization for third world nations such as increases in gross domestic product and increases in employment.
Facts such as these are not widely known and many students are unaware of the positive and negative effects of globalization. Promoting awareness was one of the main goals of Globalization Week and organizer Joe Bandy said that the week was a huge success.
Bandy said, "The globalization conference [has succeeded] in doing what the students and I wanted it to do; namely to provide a forum for the Bowdoin and larger Brunswick community to learn about global economic change, and to consider ways of building a more democratic and socially just world system."
While not everyone participating in the forum shared the same views on globalization, such diversity provoked in-depth discussions that were crucial towards gaining a full understanding of the many sides of the issue.
Bandy said after the forum: "Overall, I think students and community members of diverse interests and perspectives will have something useful to take away from this conference."
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