GLOCAL Convenor Dr Duncan Ross writes:
Staff mobility is at the heart of the GLOCAL philosophy and delivery. By the end of their first year in the programme, all students have been taught by faculty from each of the four universities. Students spend time in Glasgow and Barcelona, of course, but, while there, colleagues travel from Göttingen to Glasgow, and from Rotterdam to Barcelona to deliver one of their courses.
This immediately focuses attention on the partnership nature of the programme, and helps to create a core identity that reaches beyond the individual universities or pathways. It continues in the second year, with Glasgow colleagues teaching a course in Rotterdam and Barcelona colleagues teaching a course in Göttingen.
Staff mobility is central not only to what we do, but how we do it; it enhances the connection between faculty and students, and it allows us to compare and learn from our different academic contexts and ways of doing things.
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Here are Dr Logemann’s reflections on this period of GLOCAL staff mobility.
Global Varieties of Capitalism – Göttingen Mobility in Glasgow 2019
Global markets differ the world over with unique regional dynamics, actors and institutions. Instead of studying globalization from a bird’s eye view, Global Varieties of Capitalism asks about the specific character of political economies from the perspective of specific local contexts in Europe, North America, Asia and Latin America. This GLOCAL core course uses the Varieties of Capitalism approach to explore institutional path dependencies, regional transitions and the peculiarities of capitalist economies across time and space. The very concept of capitalist market economies, students discover, looks very different if considered from the perspective of East Asian growth regions, post-Socialist economies in Central Asia or from the experience of Chile or Argentina. And, is there really such as thing as “Western Capitalism” when countries such as Germany and the United States display major differences in the way their political economies, business and labour relations are organized?
Taught as an intensive block seminar over just a few weeks, the course is demanding on students as well as on the visiting faculty from Göttingen (this year Dr Robert Bernsee and PhD Dr Jan Logemann). We feel that it is a tremendously rewarding experience, however, bringing together the collective insights and critical opinions from highly engaged students from all over the world. As students discuss in class and collaborate in groups projects, they learn as much from each other as from the texts and class lectures about local varieties in global markets. As in previous years, the highlight of this year’s course was again a full day of student group presentations on November 1st. Through intriguing case studies such as the rise of Bengaluru as India’s IT Hub, the role of Keiretsu in Japanese business, the coffee industry in Uganda, the emergence of a med-tech sector in Costa Rica, or Estonia’s push as a digital economy leader we gained insights into local developments and regional challenges within the global economy.
Dr Jan Logemann
In December 2019, Dr Aurèlia Mañé Estrada from the Universitat de Barcelona visited Göttingen to teach Topics in Globalisation.
Here are Dr Mañé’s reflections on this period of GLOCAL staff mobility.
Topics in Globalisation – Barcelona Mobility in Göttingen 2019
For the second year in a row, last December I enjoyed the amazing experience of teaching at the University of Göttingen with the extraordinary students of GLOCAL. It is a great effort, but an extremely rewarding experience, to share a few weeks with such brilliant and cosmopolitan students and with such welcoming colleagues as the teaching staff in Göttingen.
Unfortunately, this year I had less time than last year to share social activities with the students, but we were able to share a nice hot wine at the Christmas market.
We have been learning Political Economy of Energy together. I would like to think that the students after those intensive weeks of class, have learned to think about relationships and energy transition in a critical way. This is the main objective of the course and I wish I had provided them with the skills to decode the energetic events of the future.
For my own part, in both editions of GLOCAL, I have returned back to Barcelona with new thoughts on the subject as a result of the discussions we have had in class. For a lecturer, this is a gift.
For the next cohorts, which is the specific content of the course?
The course aims to analyse the phenomena of transition and energy geopolitics from the perspective of the Political Economy. To this end, the course will be structured in three main blocks.
The first block aims to explain how Political Economy has forged the energy narrative since the Industrial Revolution until now.
The main goal of this first block is to show that historically the choice of one or another way of capturing, transforming and using energy (energy model) is the result of a game of power, insofar energy relations are, at the end of the day, power interactions (Power is Power).
The second block seeks to explain how in the framework of the mainstream energy narrative, the construction of the Capitalist world order throughout the 20th century (from the First World War to the 1970s) turned into a very concrete structure of governance for the international oil industry (from the Seven Sisters to the OPEC). And, to explain that since the end of the Yalta order due to the disintegration of the Soviet Union we are witnessing its refurbishing and an anew of its financialization.
The third block will be the most speculative. Its objective is to think critically about the energy transition from a double perspective: to analyse the content of its narrative and to think of the energy transition as a change in world power relations.
Dr Aurèlia Mañé Estrada
Report on Creative Industries in the Global Economy (taught at the Erasmus University Rotterdam by visiting professor, Jeffrey Fear (University of Glasgow)
Dates taught: 15 Oct, 16 Oct, 29 Oct, 30 Oct, 12 Nov, 13 Nov
The last three years of GLOCAL, Jeffrey Fear (University of Glasgow) has taught Creative Industries in the Global Economy at Erasmus University Rotterdam. These have traditionally been taught in double-day sessions on a biweekly basis to minimize travel costs and provide some time to meet students after class socially. The class also bridges two quarters of EUR classes and is designed not to conflict with EUR classes. In 2020, the classes met virtually with the sessions recorded as one student could not make it to Rotterdam due to Covid so she could follow the discussion, which worked quite well. The last session is always a set of presentations by the students themselves that should not only provide a sort of rough draft of their essay for this individual class, but also potentially provide the basis for the future research for the Masters thesis. The one student in Colombia had to wake up at 4:30 AM to participate in the presentations, but did so. The 4,000 word essay is then due 2-3 weeks after the class ends. I think we all would prefer to meet in class face-to-face as in previous years. The double-day format makes those days very reading intensive, but spreading them out over two weeks helps to distribute the reading load.
The course takes a thematic and critical approach to the creative industries, but does not focus on just one. It examines core concepts such as creative economy, cultural discount, creative clusters, global production networks, translocality, entrepreneurship, gig economy, precariat, and the creative class. One 2015 global survey estimated that they created $2.2 trillion in revenue and around 30 million jobs. Yet they are not a new phenomenon (as there always has been entertainment, music or dance), but were repackaged and bundled together only at the end of the 20th century as policy concept. This concept of cultural and creative industries (CCI) now can be found in initiatives all around the globe. And viewing them just as a potential source of economic or commercial development may be a problem rather than the solution. Are they a source of development or a consequence of disposable income and consumerism? Countries and cities have increasingly identified creative industries as an important means of cultural branding, tourist attractions, and have increasingly used historical “heritage” as a competitive advantage. How much does this though change the culture of place? It also examines the changing industry dynamics caused by digitalization of cultural products. And much of the theory about creative industries has been generated in Europe, but do we see the same patterns in emerging markets?
The course proved particularly dynamic, free-flowing, engaging–and often humorous–due to the stellar engagement of the students themselves. It exemplified the “local creativities” in Global Market, Local Creativies of GLOCAL.
In the autumn-winter semester of 2020 two faculty members of Kyoto University (Prof. Takafumi Kurosawa and Dr. Steven Ivings) joined the teaching line-up on the “Global Varieties of Capitalism” course, reflecting the new participation of Kyoto University as a full consortium member of the Glocal programme. The addition of the Kyoto University staff provides the course with enhanced expertise on Japan in particular and the wider Asia-Pacific region in general. The course syllabus has been updated accordingly and Kyoto University faculty now provide a third of the teaching content including topics such as East Asian varieties of capitalism, Japanese capitalism, transition in East Europe and China, and multinational companies. The Kyoto University faculty also participated in the student presentation workshop together with teaching staff from the University of Glasgow and Göttingen University.
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic the course has been taught online in this academic session which has provided some challenges to students and staff alike. Nevertheless, the overall experience of teaching on this course have been extremely positive. Both Kyoto University faculty participating in the course have been extremely impressed by the quality of students on the programme in terms of the depth and breadth of their knowledge and their active participation in discussions and debates on the key issues on the course. The sessions taught by Kyoto University involved pre-recorded lectures followed by real-time interactive discussions on the content of the lecture and assigned readings. The interactive discussions involved both close discussions in small groups and debates at the class-level. For the most part this proved very effective as the vast majority of students had evidently prepared well for class and were able and willing to share their thoughts. For the instructors, the debates and discussions provided information on what the students had been able to understand and what required further elaboration. As such, they were able to supplement the lecture and reading materials by providing further information and clarification during the discussion classes. Overall, despite the complexity of the materials covered in the course and its delivery online across several time zones, the students performed impressively as demonstrated by their excellent presentations and presentation handouts. At the time of writing, the submission deadline for their essays has not passed, but the Kyoto University instructors anticipate written work of a very high standard.
Both Kyoto University faculty agree that it has been an absolute pleasure to participate in the teaching of this course together with faculty at Göttingen University, and look forward to future collaboration in developing the syllabus and eventually, when again possible, delivering the course in person.
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, a long-term research stay in Barcelona was cancelled. However, Paloma Fernández Pérez as the professor of the family business course at UB, invited me to give an online class on Family Firms and Entrepreneurial Families in Latin America. Even if the experience was reduced to one class, it was highly positive. The class presented some key topics and debates on the field, such as the discussion about resilience in large South American family businesses in the last decades, and presenting comments that can help to answer the question about the particular resources/practices they use to achieve such resilience in a context of continuous external turbulences. In this sense, the historical experience of Latin American business offers new and rich evidence for the analysis of the characteristics and the performance of economic players, enterprises include, in situations of significant external vulnerability and economic growth volatility. During the class, I have tried to show how a contextual and long-term approach is a beneficial way to disentangle the resilience experiences and elaborate on some less conventional insights into why some business agents have endured longer than others in emerging countries. In this respect, the class also discussed the internationalization of large family businesses in the last decades, focusing on examples of family multilatinas. The class also involved the presentation of short testimonies in a video of family business leaders. During the class, the students engaged and participated actively in discussions. The vast majority of students had prepared well for the class and were willing to share their thoughts. They also connected the Latin American experiences with other cases from emerging economies and previous discussions in the course. Overall, even though the experience was reduced to only one day by the pandemic and travel restrictions, it aligned well with Paloma Fernandez’s classes. Both Los Andes University and Barcelona faculty agree that it has been an absolute pleasure to participate in this course, and we are looking forward to future collaboration in developing teaching materials, and eventually, in 2022, delivering the class in person.
Dr Andrea Lluch. Universidad de los Andes, Bogota DC, Colombia, April 2021