Beyond (methodological) Nationalism and Epistemological Behaviouralism: Global Humanities program and Global Health course at Roskilde University, Denmark

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Nationalism and Epistemological Behaviouralism:Global Humanities program and Global Health course at Roskilde University, DenmarkAuthor: Rashmi Singla & Stephen Carney, Department of People and Technology, RUCThis paper aims to illuminate both the challenges and potentials related to two innovative educational efforts at Roskilde University: the Global Humanities Bachelor Program and a Global Health course. Both of these recent initiatives aim to confirm and extend Roskilde University’s long commitment to socially-relevant and critical education, but to adjust that to the new context of increased globalisation and new forms of localisation.Whilst many approaches to globalization attempt to explore interconnection and the mutual construction of social life, they nevertheless prioritize particular ways of looking at the world. Moving beyond these, the Roskilde University initiatives aim to center issues of interdependence and epistemological diversity. Here, students are encouraged not only to consider the ways in which a European/ rational / scientific ‘world’ view can lead to personal understanding and societal freedoms but how the production of dominant ideologies contributes to global inequality, social exclusion and environmental degradation. From this position, we argue that the hegemonic role of Western Science defines ‘progress’, ‘justice’, ‘society’ etc. and thereby western knowledge projects in reproducing inequalities (globally). We aim to challenge by including alternative epistemologies and worldviews marginalized by the hegemony of ‘northern’ theorySimilarly, we argue that the methodological nationalism inherent in much social science research overlooks the connections between the internal (subjective and personal) and external (international) dimensions of life’. Though epistemological behaviouralism redresses the division between internal and international it is problematic in regarding different human activities such as migration distinct in themselves and hardly related to other aspects of life. Our initiatives provide a more comprehensive and in-depth understanding of ‘the global’ by moving beyond these binaries and invoking the complex interrelations between diverse aspects of life.One strategy lies in problem-based project work where the underlying causes of social, cultural and political marginality are viewed as co-constructed. That general orientation is extended in the Global Health: promotion, practice and power course which is framed around a critical conceptualization of globalisation and a contextualization of today’s global health practice. How can those from the ‘global north’ that are involved in health promotion be made aware of their own motivations as well as global inequities and inequalities? Our focus in on how to focus on both sides in the intervention encounter, illustrating how students’ interactive participation is central to opening up a space where issues of power and identity in the encounter of global health interventions can be critically examined and reflected upon.The course is framed around a critical conceptualization of globalization covering spatial and ideological dimensions (Fassin, 2012). Today’s practice of global health interventions is contextualized with a broad perspective on historical continuity and ruptures: from legacies of mistrust in colonial medicine to postcolonial approaches to mobile professionals. Both sides in the encounter, emphasising ethno- racial representations and the burden of ‘otherness’ are in focus because the interventions influence both the agents of intervention and the targets (Fecter & Walsh, 2012). The course seeks to create a balance between the expert knowledge position and local knowledge systems through a multi-contextual combination of theory and practice. These initiatives include not only the global but also the local aspects through involvement of both agents, organisations at diverse level, such as alumni with own experience of North- South encounters, International Development Studies experts, colleagues such as United Nations/ WHO consultants. There is currently a course partnership with the latter. The paper also includes evaluation of the initiatives, through both online forms and during an oral discussion in the class with all the students and the course teachers. The major challenges of these initiatives are not only intellectual but also institutional. Can we address global problems through rational social science and whose interest and power positions are we centering by putting “the last first?” How to connect this world of critical analysis and the practical world of health promotion? Are localisation processes problemtising global aspects?Lastly, the survival of such alternative approaches is vulnerable as RU normalizes within the landscape of Danish higher education. This creates pressures to register large numbers of students and to prioritize dominant and labor-market relevant content; all of which threatens the possibilities for innovative and transgressive alternative approaches.Words: 692References: Fassin, D. (2012). That obscure object of global health. Medical Anthropology at the Intersections: Histories, Activisms, and Futures. Durham: Duke University, 95–115. Fechter, A. and Walsh, K., (2012) “Examining ‘Expatriate Continuities: Postcolonial Approaches to Mobile Professionals.” In Fechter & Walsh (eds.), The new expatriates: postcolonial approaches to mobile professionals, pp. 9 -22 London: Routledge
Publikationsdato20 jul. 2017
StatusUdgivet - 20 jul. 2017
BegivenhedHigher Education for the 21st Century: Innovations in University-Society Partnerships: 3rd Critical Edge Alliance. International Conference and Workshop 2017 - Tata Institute of Social Science, Mumbai, Indien
Varighed: 19 sep. 201723 sep. 2017
Konferencens nummer: 3


KonferenceHigher Education for the 21st Century: Innovations in University-Society Partnerships
LokationTata Institute of Social Science

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