CEA Global Voices, the Critical Knowledge Podcast brings together experts and activists from different backgrounds to foster forward-thinking, cross-boundary and interdisciplinary conversations. The first season sheds light on important aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic as a historical, political, psychological, and scientific event. Moving from the most basic and individual concerns to the global picture, we wish to generate insights and discussions that can help us free ourselves from the atomized realm of our rooms and consider the implications of the historical moment we are living.
In the third eiposode we spoke to an international student from RUC university. She wanted to share her experience of an international living in another country during the lockdown. Also bringing the light on the specific problems that international students face during these difficult times.
In the second episode, we spoke to the student from RUC. She is finishing her bachelor project and wanted to share her insights and experiences with us. As many people who are part of this project, she believes that this is one of the important topics, that we need to speak about.
In the first episode we spoke to student from UniAndes Colombia, Andrea Pineda. She studies Political Science, and she wanted to share her experiences about the student life and student wellbeing during the lockdown.
We end the second season of our podcast by discussing an issue close to all of us- education. With Federico, a Ph.D. student at Copenhagen Business School, Adrijana and Shreya discuss the ever-changing contexts of global higher education. Basing the episode on Achille Joseph Mbembe's "Decolonizing the university: New directions" the three students try to understand the complexities associated with the coexistence of different pieces of knowledge that negotiate the university space in a neoliberal environment. We try to place our own education in this perspective and wonder what this means for the future of higher education.
In this episode, we talk to Alejandra Yanet, an architect and a student of regional development management, master student at RUC, from Colombia. We talked about her perspective on indigenous struggles in relation to identity and extractivism in South America, particularly Colombia. We look at these present struggles with a socio-historical lens and attempt to understand the different ways these conflicts are experienced by the actors involved. We also delved into the conception of terms like insider and outsider and compared their meanings in a European context and the South American context. We attempt to peel the multiple layers of complexities that constitute our social reality.
The third episode deals with the question of environmentalism politics. Furthermore about politicization and depoliticization of environmental politics and how does this affects environmentalism itself. Another important question that is raised in this episode is: is environmentalism failing and why. By discussing the different practices around the world this question will be unwrapped. Considering that environmentalism changed from its roots until now, the real issue is what is the future of environmentalism and what is its position in the modern world.
The second episode is dedicated to the text by Nanda Shrestha, “Becoming a Development Category.” Although this text was published over two decades ago and speaks about the personal journey of Shrestha and his experiences with the development, we found it relevant, considering that he tries to stay nonbiased when discussing development. Looking to development through his journey, where he unravels it layer by layer, helps us understand this notion’s depth and impact on people. In this episode, we will be discussing things such as social constructions and structural violence on the psyche.
Nanda Shrestha, Becoming a Development Category, Routledge, 1995
In the first episode of Season 2, we discuss the divide between Global North and Global South using Boaventura De Sousa Santos’ concepts of “abyssal thinking” and “epistemologies of the South.” Both ideas revolve around how cognitive biases, gaps, double-standards, and their legal and material manifestations (e.g., Guantanamo as a zone where human rights are suspended), serve to perpetuate the exploitation and oppression brought about in Western-centric modernity via patriarchy, colonialism, and capitalism. We explore how these critical concepts provide us with a vocabulary and a framework to understand the complex layering of inequalities and social changes in the increasingly interconnected global web of human-made structures. Keeping these concepts in mind for future episodes throughout the season, we invite our listeners to consider these cognitive divisions as useful tools to understand otherwise perplexing forms of inequality as intrinsic to modernity itself.
BONAVENTURA DE SOUSA SANTOS, Epistemologies of the South; Justice against Epistemicide, Routledge, New York, 2016
In episode 5 of CEA Global Voices, we spoke with two psychologists about the challenges for motivation and reaching out during the lockdown, with a special focus on education. Bhasker Malu is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at CHRIST in Bangalore, India. He has developed a website- Onestoppsychology.com, and co-developed an android app called Summarizing Psychology. He has researched student motivation and contributed his insights into the role of isolation and technology on the psychology of human beings. Jesper Jørgensen is a space psychologist and astrosociologist. His knowledge about the psychology of astronauts and sailors who spend long periods of time in varying states of isolation, and about the role of space and time in how humans make sense of these states, complements this podcast. Together, we explored questions like: can demands on students be kept stable during these times? How should parents, educators, or other people in positions of responsibility react? As mental health has reached the status of a public health concern, the interconnected and intersectional nature of health, and the role of social interaction in our wellbeing is a topic that deserves in-depth discussion.
The ecological impact and implications of the coronavirus have been a topic of interest for many environmentalists. Global carbon emissions have fallen substantially - giving us an insight into, as some say, what the world would look like without fossil fuels. The unprecedented restrictions on travel, work and industry due to the coronavirus have ensured good air quality in many otherwise choked cities. Wildlife has returned to habitats. Pollution is considerably down across continents, in comparison to the pre-pandemic normality. Is this just a fleeting event, or could it lead to longer-lasting changes? We discuss this today with Prof. Tamara Steger, and Prof. T Jayaraman.
Prof. Tamara Steger researches on environmental and social justice and currently teaches in Budapest, Hungary, at CEU (Central European University). She holds a Bachelor of Science (cum laude) from State University of New York, a Master of Marine Studies from University of Washington, and a Ph.D. (with distinction) from Syracuse University. T Jayaraman is a Senior Fellow of Climate Change at the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai in India. He used to work as a Professor at School of Habitat Studies in Tata Inst. of Social Sciences, Mumbai. TJ is trained as a theoretical physicist, and his current interests include climate change and policy, economics of climate change, climate change and agriculture. He also looks at science policy, and the history and philosophy of science.
Joined by two experts on economics, R. Ramakumar, Professor at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and J. Mohan Rao, Professor Emeritus at University of Massachusetts, we discussed the socioeconomic implications of the lockdown on the regional and global level. COVID-19 is causing severe economic problems around the world. Global food supply chains are affected by lockdown measures and other problems caused by the outbreak. It becomes clear that many of the goods that we take for granted are in fact dependent on many factors that are vulnerable to the impacts of a state of unexpected crisis. Departing from the issue of food security, and with a special focus on India and the US, we talked about the economic-epidemiological dilemmas for policymakers, and their disproportionate global impacts.
If you want to read more, here is an article by R. Ramakumar: http://fas.org.in/blog/when-the-invisible-disappeared-migrant-labour-in-agriculture-in-the-pandemic/
For the second episode, we go more pragmatic and try to answer some questions that hold immense relevance today.The pandemic and the subsequent lockdown have made us all reflect on our dependence on technology. Though the most obvious use is online learning and work from home, the significance of technology is entrenched much deeper in our lives. We are in the anthropocene, but we are also, in a society filtered by media. A discourse on this leads to more underlying questions: what does citizenship of the future mean? What do emancipation and democracy entail in the 2020s? How can civil society organise in times dominated by digital communication technology?
We discuss what democracy, emancipation, activism, and civic engagement entail in light of COVID-19, and go on to a discussion about the public sphere of the future with our two guests: Doug Schuler, a Professor Emeritus at the Evergreen College in USA, who co-founded and runs the Public Sphere Project- which aims to create and support equitable and effective public spheres all over the world; and Siddesh Sarma, an alumnus of education and psychology of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai in India, who co-founded and presently heads the organization Leadership for Equity, that aims to work towards a more inclusive and equitable society by empowering public education systems.
Here is a suggested reading list provided by Doug Schuler, to help gain more insight:
For the first episode of CEA Global Voices, we were joined by two experts on epidemiology: Catalina Gonzalez Uribe, Master in Anthropology as well as MSc in Social Epidemiology, as well as Doctorate in Epidemiology and Public Health from University of Los Andes, Colombia; and Maarten van Wijhe from Roskilde University, Denmark, postdoctoral researcher on epidemiology, who works with the historical and statistical aspects of infectious diseases. Both universities are part of Critical Edge Alliance (CEA), a global collaborative framework for innovative, student-centered, and critical universities around the world which has brought us together to create this podcast.
With the aim to understand the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of its historical context, we explored past, present, and future together: what makes this pandemic different from those in the past? Why and how did this pandemic catch so many completely off guard? What are the present challenges and future implications of COVID-19? Joined by Catalina, an epidemiologist with an interdisciplinary orientation having also studied psychology and anthropology, and Maarten, who contributed historical insights, we crossed boundaries and found a means to connect using our computers and critical minds. Together, we created something larger than the sum of its parts: a shared understanding of what makes our present meaningful and historical.