Beyond the classroom: McMaster's initiatives for global education
Photo by Kyle West
By: Neda Pirouzmand
Being a student should involve learning about global issues. I have only recently become aware of the opportunities that McMaster University has to offer for global education beyond the tutorial rooms, lab spaces and lecture halls.
On Nov. 2, the film “I am Rohingya: A Genocide in Four Acts” was screened at the Concert Hall in L.R. Wilson Hall. When a close friend told me about the screening, I did not think much of it. It was only afterwards when I talked to her about the film that I realized what I had missed.
The documentary was a heart-wrenching production that showed the story of the Rohingya people against the ongoing escalation of military violence in their homeland of Burma. Fourteen young Rohingya refugees act in the film to retell their families’ oppressive experiences in Burma which include brutal beatings, kidnappings and killings that have impacted over half a million individuals within the community.
Following the screening, there was a panel discussion with the director Yusuf Zine, the producer and cast members. The impact of this event cannot be understated. Not only did McMaster promote a film that provides insight into global affairs, but it also gave students a chance to hear a first-person account of the vision and process of executing such a film.
In partnership with McMaster’s Office of International Affairs, Zine’s special film screening was part of MacGlobal. MacGlobal, which took place from Oct. 22 to Nov. 9, showcased three weeks work of programming to shine light on international perspectives.
One can only imagine how much work went into planning and executing this amazing three-week initiative. MacGlobal was created by the university in support of McMaster’s Global Engagement Strategy, as outlined in the 2016 document “The McMaster Model for Global Engagement: A Strategy Document”.
Back in 2016, the university had set a priority to develop a strategy that would increase its integration of internationally-inspired programming. This document continues to be a key player in the progression of said strategy, and will hopefully inspire more initiatives like MacGlobal.
A key quote in this document is that there must be a call to action for “the transformation of the university on its own ground, whereby […] our approach to any problem is informed by a global awareness.” This is the kind of perspective that we should be seeking from all of our degrees, and it should be made possible for students from any faculty to achieve.
The unfortunate thing is that you have to actively seek opportunities like MacGlobal or know someone involved in them, as they are otherwise difficult to find. Part of this issue is because we lack streamlined communication of events occurring on campus on any given day. The monitors across campus can only show so much, OSCARplus offers a select niche of events and our Twitter accounts are just as selective.
This is something our student leaders should consider addressing. What can be done to create a central hub for daily opportunities, events and special programming to be accessible to all students and faculty members? Questions like this are worth considering so that events like MacGlobal do not go unnoticed by a large proportion of the McMaster community.
This is what we need more of. We need it because this is the kind of stimulation and education that is missing from many of our courses. The kind of learning that comes from MacGlobal is the kind that makes you a more informed global citizen. It sheds light on things that we can become oblivious to in our student bubbles. With this new insight comes a greater ability to learn and apply knowledge.
Without a doubt, I have learned an extensive amount of information and developed a variety of skills thanks to my classes. However, what I believe I still lack in my current undergraduate education is an integration of course material with current and relevant global issues or contexts. Until this can be achieved in-class, initiatives like MacGlobal should be made known to more students on campus.