Civil Society and International Cooperation

Invitation to Civil Society and International Cooperation

There are two basic ways to go about deepening one’s understanding of today’s globalized world. One is to concentrate on developments among major countries and international organizations that make up international society. The other is to focus on developments and movements among ordinary citizens. The first method relies on the viewpoint of the state and its influential politicians, together with developments in foreign policy and such international frameworks as the United Nations or the Group of Eight, to analyze global change and trends in world history. The academic discipline of international politics (also known as international relations or international affairs) has developed primarily on the basis of this approach.

The second method takes a completely different approach. Instead of studying the world from the perspective of the state or major international organizations, it attempts to grasp it from the perspective of people’s lives, attitudes, and behaviors. It might focus on the poor, analyzing the structural mechanisms that give rise to poverty and the ways in which underprivileged people are working to change those mechanisms and improve their own lives. Or it might spotlight opponents of nuclear energy, exploring their understanding of the world and their vision for the future. It might highlight people oppressed by the state or stateless refugees, examining how they came to be in their current situation and exploring their personal experience. It seeks to know whether a given group of people are happy in the environment in which they find themselves. The Civil Society and International Cooperation concentration stresses the importance of this sort of perspective, as opposed to a narrow focus on the actions and policies of states and international organizations.

Studies within the Civil Society and International Cooperation concentration deal with a wide range of human issues and phenomena, such as the economic hardship plaguing many people in South Asia, the plight of the indigenous peoples of  the two American continents, tribal conflicts in Africa, the widening gap between the rich and poor in industrialized nations, environmental activism around the world, people who travel the world via the Internet and social media, volunteers who converge from around the world to assist the victims of natural disasters, cross-border citizen activism, and more.

The purpose of these studies is not just to observe and understand the difficulties facing people. We want to train our students to analyze the cause of those difficulties, examine ways that people’s lives could be made better, and consider what we can do to help. To understand the circumstances of people in need and take action to make the world a better place—these are the essential goals of the Civil Society and International Cooperation concentration.

Academic Aims of the Civil Society and International Cooperation Concentration

1. To develop the capacity for an objective understanding of the circumstances of people’s lives and the conditions under which they lead those lives.

2. To develop the capacity to understand the problems facing people in our global society and explore and analyze their structural causes.

3. To develop the capacity to search for solutions to the hardships facing people.

4. To cultivate a sensitive awareness of the way people around the world live and think.

5. To equip people to take action to alleviate human hardship, not simply observe it as outsiders.

Curriculum of the Civil Society and International Cooperation Concentration

The curriculum of the Civil Society and International Cooperation concentration offers an opportunity to study and explore our global society from the standpoint of any of the following subject areas.

1. International political economy: Economic globalization, poverty and development, economic disparities, etc.

2. Development economics: How the economic changes associated with development impact people’s lives, etc.

3. Global civil society: Volunteerism, social activism, grass-roots action, etc.

4. International sociology: Immigrants, citizens repatriated following wartime displacement, refugees, etc.

5. International cooperation: Economic development, social development, development assistance, NGOs, gender issues, etc.

6. International educational development: Educational policy in developing countries, educational development, evaluation of educational programs, etc.

Introductory Courses

Students who select the Civil Society and International Cooperation concentration begin by completing coursework from the concentration’s introductory courses, which they are required to take as early as their first year. These courses include both the concentration’s own general introductions and a selection of courses in related disciplines designed to equip students with an academic grounding in the phenomenon of globalization.

Sample Course Offerings :

Survey of Theories of Civil Society and International Cooperation
International Cooperation with People’s Initiative
Globalization and Economics
Global Sociology
Global History
Globalization and Religion
Globalization and Information
Religions and Civilizations

Core Courses

After completing the required general introductory courses, students proceed to more advanced studies in the field of their choice. By taking core courses such as those listed below, students begin to acquire expertise in one or more specialized areas.

Sample Course Offerings :

Society and Economy in Francophone Africa
Society and Development in North Africa
Latin American Social and Political Issues
Latin American Economics
Social Development Cooperation in Brazil
Special Lecture Social Development of Brazil
Issues in Contemporary Africa
Globalization and Civil Society
International Sociology
International Cooperation
International Political Economy
Globalization & Developing Economies
Theory of International Education Development

Seminar Courses

In seminar courses, third- and fourth-year students pursue research and study on their own individual topics. Seminars are offered in each of the six subject areas listed above. Seminar instructors provide guidance to each student as they write up their research in the form of a graduation thesis that stands as a summation of their university studies.

Sample Course Offerings :

Seminar in Latin American Society
Seminar in Brazilian Society
Seminar in German Society
Seminar in North African Socioeconomy
Seminar in International Political Economy
Seminar in Development Economics
Seminar in International Sociology
Seminar in Global Civil Society
Seminar in International Cooperation
Seminar in International Educational Development