by Jack Whitacre, PhD Student in Global Governance and Human Security
Over the course of the last year, our PhD cohort in McCormack School’s Global Governance and Human Security program explored different international organizations from around the world. By studying the canon of global governance and international organizational theory, we acquired new tools for understanding factors that shape the world. Part of this journey involved adopting a more critical approach and questioning claims of international organizations, like the Arctic Council (AC), quantitatively. This reflection sheds light on unique findings that display UMass Boston’s encouragement for interdisciplinary work.
After learning how Arctic indigenous groups bear disproportionate environmental burdens in the High North, I started studying the Arctic Council in greater depth. The Arctic Council was designed in large part to uplift indigenous voices, heritage, culture, livelihood amidst a changing Arctic environment. The following organizations are Permanent Participants of the Arctic Council: Aleut International Association, Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich’in Council International, Inuit Circumpolar Council, Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, and the Saami COuncil. The education at UMass Boston helped me ask whether the Arctic Council was truly living up to its environmental and human rights ambitions. First, analyzing digital archives revealed that indigenous considerations have significantly decreased in Senior Arctic Observer (SAO) meeting minutes from 1999 to 2017. Second, state and external organizations were twice as likely to spearhead indigenous projects and debates than the indigenous groups themselves. And third, indigenous issues appeared in only 0.0004375% of content in a typical SAO document. For this reason, it can be argued that indigenous people are more subjects than participants in the AC’s SAO.
By studying one of the most democratic and praised international organizations with a critical lens and expanded tool kit, I found gaps and areas for possible improvement. This research increased my capacity for literature reviews, statistical analyses, and writing. The quantitative story of the Arctic Council, indigenous participants, and missing voices is an important, but untold, history of non-state actors. It represents a vulnerability in the Arctic Council’s mission, and a factor that may shape the future of the forum. To borrow a phrase from the Japanese Ministry, my first year in the Global Governance and Human Security program taught me how to envision a world where people “live healthy, productive lives in harmony with nature.” Hopefully, sharing a snapshot from this journey helps make these aspirations a reality.
A recent Boston Globe columnist, reporting on President Donald Trump’s first few weeks in the White House, described recent events as “a cavalcade of controversies.” What an astute (and alliterative) observation.
As part of encouraging broader discussions of this new policy landscape, the McCormack Graduate School recently partnered with the College of Liberal Arts at UMass Boston to host two policy roundtables to discuss President Trump’s domestic and foreign policy agendas.
We invite you to read about our analyses, watch the videos, and engage in the national chatter by sharing your comments on this blog.
The Trump Administration: Domestic Policy Roundtable
by Justin Maher McCormack Graduate School Dean’s Office
Tuesday night, President Obama took the stage to deliver his farewell address. In it, he painted an optimistic portrait of a nation filled with promise and people of all political stripes ready to continue to fight for an inclusive democracy. He also acknowledged that “our political dialogue has become so corrosive that people of good character aren’t even willing to enter into public service.” That frightening proposition, echoed by polls that show the steady and alarming decline of trust in government, deserves serious reflection.
As the assistant dean for academic programs at McCormack, I spend a good chunk of time talking to prospective students investigating graduate school. There are a myriad of reasons why they choose to pursue graduate study. Some are coming from a bachelor’s program and want to continue to specialize in a field they are passionate or curious about. Others are seasoned professionals ready for a career change or new skills. But, in addition to the personal and professional benefits, they are united by a commitment to improving their local and global communities. Continue Reading →
by Stacy D. VanDeveer
Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security and Global Governance
The last several weeks have seen important actions to curb climate change. Since the historic Paris Agreement on climate change was negotiated in December of 2015, the big question has been about whether governments, cities, corporations, and individuals can sustain political momentum and move from announced agreements to concrete actions. Globally, we have seen several good signs recently.
The world’s most pressing challenges — whether climate change, population growth, infectious diseases or massive inequalities of resources – will only be met successfully if science is brought to the task far more effectively, according to a United Nations report drafted by a team at UMass Boston. Science is an essential component of “policies that are clear, agreed-upon, and powerful,” says the report; it should be integral to virtually all high-level policy-making, and not be an occasional add-on. The report presents the findings of the 26-member Scientific Advisory Board established by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon three years ago. It was presented to him in New York on Sunday. Continue Reading →