Political Science students at Okanagan College this past Fall term have worked very hard to prepare work on cutting-edge political topics and issues. Students were challenged to analyze a political problem, consider various policy options, and come up with creative solutions. Students prepared blogs, analyzed images, presented their work in class, analyzed key actors, reviewed films, and prepared timelines, among many other things. This showcase is a sampling of some of the best work done this term. My thanks to all of my hard-working students. I am blown away with the outstanding work that you do!
Aska Nakamura has put together a timeline of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Island Dispute as part of her work in the class Global Politics here at Okanagan College in the Fall 2012 term. Her timeline is detailed and she relates the dispute to some of the themes of the course, particularly the importance of national interest in creating the conditions for conflict. For anyone looking for a comprehensive yet detailed history of the dispute, this timeline is a great resource.
Chris Munger prepared an image analysis of a pivotal event in the history of world politics: Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev’s famous ‘shoe banging’ incident. What is interesting about Chris’s description is the way he relates this picture to the larger context of world politics as fundamentally conflictual and anarchical. Chris has taken a well-known incident and used it to make a valuable point about world politics.
This image, taken in 1960 of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Premier Nikita Khrushchev while at the United Nations General Assembly, was a short time before the alleged (and infamous) shoe-banging incident. Khrushchev supposedly waved around or banged his own shoe on the desk during the assembly itself. Details of the event are debated (as evident by the wealth of conflicting versions circulating on the internet), but the incident and this photograph of an obviously unreceptive statesman illustrate a key issue in global politics. This issue is the adversarial attitude of global politics. The effectiveness of this international institution will not be argued here, but it is true that the United Nations is the most inclusive international political institution in the world and among the most extensive. Any incident involving shoe-banging (or any version thereof) would hardly be respectful of the institution’s goal of respectful debate, and continued vetoes by permanent security council members stymie the efforts at cooperation that the UN should facilitate. The USSR is an historic example of this.
So what is the greater connection to global politics as a subject? Adversarial attitudes within the UN are easily explained by realist theory to be a natural result of power struggles between sovereign states. However, it could also be a symptom of the realist approach itself. The United Nations, as an idea, is far closer to constructivist thought, as it depends upon norms and histories of cooperation between states to function. When a realist mode of thought is applied, the system breaks down and means such as veto power are employed to prevent cooperation. Realpolitik is incompatible with cooperation toward universal gains, and this is seen again and again as states see issues as divisive or as diplomatic wars to be won. Despite the prevailing paradigm of a state regarding political theory, attitudes should be in line with the agreed to means to achieve goals. One can little doubt the United Nations would be far more effective if members subscribe to a political theory that supports its intent, and constructivism should be more widely acknowledged to achieve this, if nothing else.
Leffler, Warren K. Nikita Khrushchev 1960. 22 September 1960. Photograph. Wikimedia Commons, 2006. Web. 28 September 2012.
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Kassidy Hoffman’s map of Canada’s forest cover uses information from the World Resources Institute’s website to visualize the progressive loss of forest cover in Canada. She prepared this work for the course Canadian Environmental Policy. In her description, she emphasizes how Canada must balance the use of forests with forest protection, a difficult call when economic activity demands the use of natural resources to boost GDP.
A Map of Forest Cover in Canada
This map shows the distribution of forests within Canada. The green colour scheme indicates whether the forest is dense or sparse. The areas that are less dense in Canada are mostly alpine areas. I chose to produce a map of forests in Canada in order to demonstrate the importance of preserving Canada’s forests. British Columbia and New Brunswick tend to be the most logged provinces in Canada. Forestry is a very important industry for Canada because it helps the Canadian economy. This coincides with the Staples Theory because lumber is a raw material that Canada highly depends on for economic wealth. This map shows all forested areas; this includes natural forests and replanted forests after logging and/or a natural disaster, such as fires has occurred. Canada’s forests are slowly depleting and eventually the forests in Canada will be nonexistent.
I made this map by using data sources off of the World Resources Institute website and converted it into ArcGIS and converted it into a map. I then manipulated the colour scheme and created a proper legend; I added all of the necessary map elements.
The production of this map is relevant to the course because the map helps to visualize the forestry issues in Canada. The map shows how only parts of Canada are forested; there are no forests in the prairies and in the north where there is too much snow and ice. Sustainable Forest Management is a way Canada looked at sustaining and developing forests in Canada. There have been a lot of conflicts with forestry policies and this map proves forests are essential to Canada and that they need to be protected. Forestry is a big part of environmental politics because Canada needs the lumber; however, it’s a question of how far is Canada going to go when it comes to destroying the forests and realizing it is too late to protect Canadian forests.