Category Archives: Organisations and Work

Men and Global Gender Justice

A side-event at the 2012 meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Attribution: Silje Bergum Kinsten/norden.org via Wikimedia Commons

A side-event at the 2012 meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Attribution: Silje Bergum Kinsten/norden.org via Wikimedia Commons

The Huffington Post recently ran an article by Juliana Carlson, Assistant Professor of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas and member of the Mobilizing Men in Violence Prevention research collaboration, on the topic of men’s global engagement in the prevention of violence against women and girls.  She argues that “men and boys have been largely relegated to the sidelines of violence preventions efforts” but that a growing movement “aims to create structural change by engaging boys and men in conversations about equality, gender expectations, family health, fatherhood, and the concrete, positive roles they can and do play, such as sharing caregiving and being a role model for younger generations.”  The proliferation of NGOs doing this crucial work with men and boys extends well beyond the prevention of violence against women and may signal a larger shift in human rights and global development discourse.  (more…)

The U.S. Military’s Sexual Assault Problem

Sisterhood Against Sexual Assault hosts conference at Liberty Field House. Conference helps raise awareness and combat sexual assault. Retrieved from wiki commons

Sisterhood Against Sexual Assault hosts conference at Liberty Field House. Conference helps raise awareness and combat sexual assault. Retrieved from wiki commons.

The United States Senate failed to pass a bill that would have altered the military’s response to sexual assault.  The bill, sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) would have stripped senior military commanders of their authority to prosecute or prevent charges for alleged rapes and other serious offenses in favor of giving the authority to military trial lawyers operating under a newly established office independent of the chain of command.  The vote fell 5 votes short of the 60 necessary to move ahead with the legislation, with opponents of the bill arguing that commanding officers should be given more responsibility in preventing and punishing sexual offenses and that removing power from commanders threatens the organization of the military. The bill failed to pass despite multiple news reports revealing the extent of sexual assaults in the military and the lack of response by military commanders. (more…)

Fly me to the Moon: Aviation: past, present, and future

By Yamaguchi Yoshiaki from Japan [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

This year marks one century of commercial flying. On New Year’s Day in 1914, a large crowd gathered in St.Petersburg, Florida, as an airboat named ‘Benoist’ (after its creator, Thomas Benoist), took to the sky for a 23-minute flight over the Tampa Bay, carrying a single passenger (Abram Pheil, who won his $400 ticket in an auction). This maiden flight soon became a regular route, thus marking aviation’s birth as a viable industry. In the following decades, transnational routes, jet engines and global airlines became fixtures of modern life.

What a difference a century makes. Today, 52 aircraft take off every minute, and an incredible half a million people are in the air above us at any one time. Flying now facilitates family visits, holidays, business and academic conferences, and freight trade; it’s made the world smaller, and the global economy bigger. (more…)

The Spectacle and Politics of Globalized Sports

The Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo

This month the 22nd Winter Olympic Games began in Sochi, Russia. The spectacle of the event has captivated persons from around the world to tune into watch their favorite sport or favorite athletes. Russia spent over $50 billion to prepare for the Olympics by building hotels, roads, stadiums, and to bring in artificial snow into the Southern resort town.  The Sochi Olympics are the first mega-sporting event to occur this year, but will likely be trumped by the upcoming World Cup in Brazil over the summer. Brazil’s price tag for hosting the World Cup is considerable less at around $9 billion dollars. Nonetheless, the cost of both of these events and the emphasis by the respective countries to show the world the capabilities of their nation reveal the increasing globalization of these world sporting events. The Olympics and the World Cup are two global sports spectacles that have considerable cultural and economic ramifications, and are a product of intense politicking to bring the events to one’s national home.

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The Myth of the ‘Skills Gap’ and the Attack on (Higher) Education

By movie studio [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

In January, President Obama became the latest in a long list of politicians and high profile public figures in taking a shot at academic disciplines perceived to be ‘useless’ from a labor market perspective. Talking about manufacturing and job training, Obama (who has since apologized for his remarks) said: “I promise you, folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree.” This attack on disciplines, fields and degrees that do not tie in directly to what is perceived to be the workplace of today and tomorrow are nothing new. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory made similar, albeit much more explicit and vicious, remarks about higher education just last year, lashing out against the (inter)discipline of women’s and gender studies: “If you want to take gender studies that’s fine. Go to a private school, and take it. But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job.” These and similar remarks point to two related notions that dominate in the debate about (higher) education: 1. The idea of a “skills gap” – that is the idea that workers and college graduates do not possess the right skills to fill vacant jobs in growing economic sectors. And 2. The idea that some academic disciplines are simply useless pursuits, as they do not help graduates secure employment. But do these ideas have empirical ground?

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The Sociology Classroom: Critical, Transformative, Radical? Part 3 of 3. Radical Pedagogy & Practice

Source: Luiz Carlos Cappellano (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

In the first part of this series, I asked whether the sociology classroom can be a space of critical or radical pedagogy and discussed the theories behind Freirean learner-centered approaches to radical pedagogy. In my second article , I laid out some critiques of these models brought forward by scholars equally committed to critical sociology and radical analyses. Despite these critical voices though, there is certainly good reason for radical scholars to have their pedagogy reflect their intellectual commitments. Today’s article will discuss examples of radical pedagogy in practice as well as ways of dealing with the contradictions between pedagogical philosophy and institutional constraints.

[This article is the third and last in a series that explores theories behind critical/ radical/ transformative education in the sociology classroom, as well as its practice, problems and limits. The first article introduced some theories behind critical pedagogy, and its overall framework; the second article addressed some radical critiques of certain versions of radical pedagogy.]

 

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The Sociology Classroom: Critical, Transformative, Radical? Part 2 of 3. Problems with Learner-Centered Models

Source: Brandizzi (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons.

I have previously written about whether the sociology classroom can be a space of critical or radical pedagogy and how critical research agendas should be reflected in sociological pedagogy. Most authors experimenting with critical pedagogy rely on Freirean conceptions of student-centered learning that seek to eliminate teacher-student hierarchies and offer students the change to take ownership of their education by involving them in peer-grading, course design and instruction. However, scholars equally committed to critical sociology and radical analyses have critique these models as problematic and actually not coherent with sociological understandings of the world.

[This article is the second in a series that explores theories behind critical/ radical/ transformative education in the sociology classroom, as well as its practice, problems and limits. The first article introduced some theories behind critical pedagogy, and its overall framework.]

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The Sociology Classroom: Critical, Transformative, Radical? Part 1 in a Series.

Source: Luiz Carlos Cappellano (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

A number of sociologists understand their work as being part of a radical or transformative project: They are committed to empowering the marginalized or are engaged in challenging hegemony, they work within the tradition of radical theoretical approaches such as Marxist, feminist, or critical race theory, and understand their work as a contribution to laying foundations for a more just, equal and democratic society. However, it is not often not clear what role the commitment to radical social thought – and ultimately radical social change – can play in the sociology classroom. A number of scholars have asked whether there is a unique radical, critical or transformative pedagogical approach to the teaching of sociology, how to theorize radical pedagogy, how to implement radical approaches in the undergraduate classroom and how radical educators might deal with institutional constraints.

[This article is the first in a series that explores theories behind critical/ radical/ transformative education in the sociology classroom, as well as its practice, problems, limits, and the constraints faced by sociology teachers committed to critical pedagogies. This first article introduces some theories behind critical pedagogy, and its overall framework.]

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Empowerment through pole dancing?

Source: https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-xpI_I3C4IIM/TYDlR8iE0xI/AAAAAAAAB6E/kBaDNXkMAiU/s1600/usb_pole_dancer.jpg

Source: https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-xpI_I3C4IIM/TYDlR8iE0xI/AAAAAAAAB6E/kBaDNXkMAiU/s1600/usb_pole_dancer.jpg

Despite such clubs being banned elsewhere, the student pole dancing club was recently soliciting new members at my university’s freshers’ fair. The toxic effects on gender relations of pole dancing’s explicit objectification of women have been extensively discussed elsewhere – see the Object campaign for example. Despite such critiques, pole dancing has been adopted into the body-sculpting repertories of fitness clubs and become an option for students to earn money by dabbling in the sex industry. (more…)

Title IX: Way Beyond Athletics

US-DeptOfEducation-Seal (1)

When most people hear talk of Title IX, a 1972 law that states “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance…”, it is most commonly in the context of high school and collegiate athletics.  People opposed to Title IX often claim that it is responsible for diminished funding for men’s sports in exchange for increased funding for sports that women don’t even want (Boyd 2003Gavora 2002Shook 1995).  Proponents of Title IX point to the success of the United States’ female athletes in the 2012 Olympics (58 medals including 29 gold medals) as evidence that Title IX is having a positive impact on women’s lives (Grappendorf 2013Pauline 2012).  However, while the original text of Title IX makes no specific mention of athletics, it seems that its impact on athletic programs is the only attention the law gets.  What is rarely discussed in considerations of Title IX is the law’s profound impact on our educational experiences beyond athletics.

Before Title IX was passed as a law in 1972, it existed in part as legal precedent in the form of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Executive Order 11375.  The executive order, which forbade federally funded programs from discriminating on the basis of sex in hiring decisions, was used to challenge faculty hiring discrimination at hundreds of colleges and universities across the country (Suggs 2006).  But that was only the beginning.  (more…)