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Issue Date:  October 29, 2004

Globalization: more than a three-credit course

The concept of globalization encompasses a wide range of issues, from the economic impact of international trade agreements and the protests against them to the influences of corporations, technology, media, tourism and immigration. Such issues have the potential to engender positive cultural exchange but also spark fears of cultural hegemony, especially fears of global “Americanization.”

Higher education has certainly not been untouched by these issues. In this Catholic Colleges and Universities special section, NCR takes a look at just a few aspects of globalization as it affects the lives of faculty and students.

For the opening article ( see story), reporter Renée LaReau spoke with professors at Catholic institutions who are grappling with whether globalization should be examined through an ethical lens in the classroom -- questioning the economic exploitation of developing nations, for instance, or the cultural risks posed by the American media. While some scholars raise these questions with students, others, especially in business disciplines, maintain that humanities and liberal-arts courses are better suited to deal with them. “There is a significant majority that thinks these are issues we should discuss, but it’s not unanimous,” according to Patrick Murphy of the University of Notre Dame. Increasingly, experts advocate an interdisciplinary approach to look at all aspects of the complex topic of globalization.

Students are also gaining a perspective on social justice and globalization through study abroad programs that immerse them in the cultures of developing countries. LaReau reports on two such programs at Catholic universities ( see story).

Meanwhile, in the United States, the growing diversity of the student body, including greater numbers of foreign students, is a reality for Catholic ministry on both secular and Catholic campuses, as Patricia Lefevere writes ( see story). In addition to the liturgical challenges raised when serving Catholics of different nationalities, chaplains of various faiths work together to increase interfaith understanding ( see story, see story). Rich Heffern writes about a university’s program teaching yoga philosophy that carries on the long tradition in the Jesuit order of the encounter between East and West ( see story).

Beyond U.S. borders, Pat Morrison brings us a look at university life in the Holy Land, where for more than 30 years, Vatican-sponsored Bethlehem University has educated Christian and Muslim Palestinians despite the dangers and insecurity of functioning in a war zone ( see story, see story).

-- Teresa Malcolm

National Catholic Reporter, October 29, 2004

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