The pro­gramme equips stu­dents with tools to an­a­lyse the com­plex web of re­la­tions be­tween in­di­vid­u­als, gov­ern­ments and states – both in his­tory and to­day’s in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Post Graduate -

READ­ING the news and watch­ing global events un­fold of­ten leave us puz­zled. Whether the Brexit or the South China Sea con­flict, we are left with a mul­ti­tude of ques­tions about the un­der­ly­ing mo­tives of the coun­tries in­volved as well as the causes and con­se­quences of their ac­tions.

A num­ber of crises in the world, such as the con­flict on the Korean penin­sula or in the Mid­dle East, are long-last­ing. Yet, so­lu­tions have not been found. The wish to un­der­stand th­ese is­sues in­spired my de­ci­sion to en­rol in the Bach­e­lor of Arts (Global) at Monash Univer­sity Malaysia.

The pro­gramme equips stu­dents with tools to an­a­lyse the com­plex web of re­la­tions be­tween in­di­vid­u­als, gov­ern­ments and states – both in his­tory and to­day’s in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics.

It is a unique mix­ture of his­tory, pol­i­tics, in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions and po­lit­i­cal econ­omy. It cov­ers a wide range of highly rel­e­vant and up-to-date top­ics such as the role of in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions (for ex­am­ple, United Na­tions, Euro­pean Union and Asean), refugee is­sues, hu­man rights, cli­mate change, eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, in­equal­ity, and fi­nan­cial crises and their ori­gins.

Of­ten, the fo­cus is on transna­tional or trans­bor­der de­vel­op­ments to show the global char­ac­ter of th­ese is­sues. Stu­dents delve into th­ese mat­ters to learn the causes and con­se­quences as well as the de­bates sur­round­ing them.

For in­stance, when un­der­stand­ing the im­pact of eco­nomic glob­al­i­sa­tion on global warm­ing and cli­mate change, we dis­cuss the ten­sions be­tween de­vel­op­ment and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion as well as an­a­lyse the in­ter­ests of in­dus­tri­alised states such as the United States and de­vel­op­ing coun­tries such as China, In­dia or the Mal­dives.

Fi­nally, we look at how in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion agree­ments such as the Ky­oto Pro­to­col or the Paris Agree­ment might help solve th­ese is­sues. Our study of­ten in­cludes con­tentious is­sues as well, such as hu­man rights, so­cial move­ments, democrati­sa­tion and war or peace.

By un­pack­ing th­ese dif­fi­cult con­cepts, we see that they re­late to the core val­ues and in­ter­ests in our so­ci­eties. We study th­ese so­cial and cul­tural iden­ti­ties and see how they change through global in­ter­ac­tions.

While de­bat­ing th­ese is­sues, we also have to take cer­tain (eth­i­cal) po­si­tions. This en­cour­ages us to think crit­i­cally, iden­tify prob­lems and dis­cuss (al­ter­na­tive) so­lu­tions.

In global stud­ies, stu­dents learn to be cul­tur­ally aware and re­spect other cul­tures. Stu­dents drop stereo­types or any bias they might have to­wards other peo­ple since their sub­ject teaches them to ap­pre­ci­ate and cel­e­brate the beauty of di­ver­sity.

This shapes stu­dents’ ex­pe­ri­ences and makes them global ci­ti­zens who can com­mu­ni­cate ef­fec­tively. They can adapt eas­ily and build a gen­uine con­cern for other cul­tures.

Along­side learn­ing and dis­cussing about the so­cial is­sues in global stud­ies, stu­dents de­velop a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity and en­thu­si­asm to con­trib­ute to so­ci­ety in a pos­i­tive way.

For in­stance, dur­ing my first year, I wrote ar­ti­cles for the stu­dent mag­a­zine and be­came a men­tor for new in­ter­na­tional stu­dents un­der the In­ter­na­tional Buddy Pro­gram, which aims to help new­com­ers tran­si­tion seam­lessly into the univer­sity en­vi­ron­ment.

I was also a stu­dent am­bas­sador, which gave me the chance to nur­ture lead­er­ship and pre­sen­ta­tion skills. My peers got in­volved in non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions (NGOs) or jour­nal­ism.

Th­ese ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties paired with the class­room lessons help us find a di­rec­tion for the fu­ture. They nour­ish en­thu­si­asm, de­velop lead­er­ship skills and give us a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing for a fu­ture ca­reer.

Through the course of my stud­ies, I also vol­un­teered at the United Na­tions High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees and a lo­cal NGO called Shelter Home for Chil­dren where I spent time teach­ing refugee chil­dren. This gave me in­sight into fu­ture jobs and ca­reer prospects.

The prospect of global stud­ies stu­dents are not lim­ited to any par­tic­u­lar field but ex­pands to a range of NGOs, diplo­macy, for­eign af­fairs, pol­i­tics, ed­u­ca­tion and even re­search-based work.

The soft skills ac­quired by stu­dents are highly sought by em­ploy­ers from the public and private sec­tors. Global stud­ies grad­u­ates work in gov­ern­ments and in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions.

As for me, I am look­ing for­ward to my ex­change pro­gramme at Lei­den Univer­sity of the Nether­lands next se­mes­ter as part of my course­work.

I aspire to fur­ther my stud­ies after I grad­u­ate, con­trib­ute to academia and live by Monash’s motto, An­cora Im­paro, which means “I am still learn­ing”. – By Saima Is­lam (pic), sec­ond-year stu­dent ma­jor­ing in global stud­ies at the School of Arts and So­cial Sciences, Monash Univer­sity Malaysia.

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