Globalization, the Catholic Church, and Classroom Pedagogy

A while back I had the opportunity to allow a job candidate to come in and use my intro to IR class to give a her candidate classroom lecture. Following the 40-minute lecture–after the candidate and the rest of the faculty had left the room–I asked my students to anonymously write down their impressions of the teaching style of the job candidate. One of the responses was particularly illuminated and the latest news about the Catholic Church’s efforts to reform the concept of sin reminded me of that student’s response. The student’s response was (and I’m paraphrasing here):

“I didn’t like that she went around the room and made everyone answer her introductory question. I pay $40,000 in tuition annually and I have the right to sit in the classroom and be bored and do nothing if that’s what I want to do.”

I felt sorry for this student, because s/he has forgotten a couple of important rules about life, let alone post-secondary education: first, you only get out of something what you put in. Second, and more important, the whole classroom experience is a social experience, and the outcome of the educational process is not only a function of what the student him/herself is doing, and what the instructor is doing, but what others in the classroom are doing as well.

Apropos of the preceding, here is news from the London Times online, which demonstrates the Catholic Church’s approach to the concept of sin:

seven_poster.jpg…[Bishop Gianfranco Girotti] said that priests must take account of “new sins which have appeared on the horizon of humanity as a corollary of the unstoppable process of globalisation”. Whereas sin in the past was thought of as being an invididual matter, it now had “social resonance”.

“You offend God not only by stealing, blaspheming or coveting your neighbour’s wife, but also by ruining the environment, carrying out morally debatable scientific experiments, or allowing genetic manipulations which alter DNA or compromise embryos,” he said.

Bishop Girotti said that mortal sins also included taking or dealing in drugs, and social injustice which caused poverty or “the excessive accumulation of wealth by a few”.

He said that two mortal sins which continued to preoccupy the Vatican were abortion, which offended “the dignity and rights of women”, and paedophilia, which had even infected the clergy itself and so had exposed the “human and institutional fragility of the Church”.

Maybe it’s time for Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman to do a sequel to Seven. 🙂

What is Comparative Politics?

Most students (and non-students, for that matter) have only a vague idea of the content of “comparative politics.” In other sub-disciplines in political science, such as American Politics, and International Relations, the subject matter is almost self-explanatory. In a subsequent post, I’ll tell you what I think comparative politics is about. For now, I provide for you (once again, free of charge!) a sample of the titles of some recent articles published in one of the leading journals in the field of comparative politics, the aptly titled Comparative Politics.

Volume 40, Number 2, January 2007

  • John Sidel, “Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy Revisited: Colonial State and Chinese Immigrant in the Making of Modern Southeast Asia”
  • Frances Hagopian, “Latin American Catholicism in an Age of Religious and Political Pluralism: A Framework for Analysis”
  • Gary L Goodman and Jonathan T. Hiskey, “Exit without Leaving: Political Disengagement in High Migration Municipalities in Mexico”
  • Ozge Kemahlioglu, “Particularistic Distribution of Investment Subsidies under coalition Governments: The Case of Turkey”
  • Lianjiang Li, “Political Trust and Petitioning in the Chinese Countryside”

Volume 40, Number 1, October 2007

  • J. Samuel Valenzuela, Timothy R. Scully, and Nicolás Somma, “The Enduring Presence of Religion in Chilean Ideological Positionings and Voter Options”
  • Christina Davis and Jennifer Oh, “Repeal of the Rice Laws in Japan: The Role of International Pressure to Overcome Vested Interests”
  • Linda J. Cook, “Negotiating Welfare in Postcommunist States”
  • Wim van Oorschot and Wilfred Uunk, “Welfare Spending and the Public’s Concern for Immigrants: Multilevel Evidence for Eighteen European Countries”
  • Christian Albrekt Larsen, “How Welfare Regimes Generate and Erode Social Capital: The Impact of Underclass Phenomena”
  • Review Article: Veljko Vujačić, “Elites, Narratives, and Nationalist Mobilization in the Former Yugoslavia”

Continue reading “What is Comparative Politics?”