Communication and globalisation: A justification for critical pedagogy
This paper, situated in critical pedagogy, argues that communication educators need to examine the basic communication course, a general education requirement for many undergraduate students, in the context of globalisation. The paper first explores the concept of globalisation and its adverse impact on college students. It contends that the model of intercultural praxis can be utilised for curriculum development to revise the basic communication course. It concludes by challenging readers to envision transformative models of teaching, engaging and developing curricula for a new globalised critical praxis of citizenship education in introductory communication courses
Keywords: basic communication course; globalisation; communication education; power; intercultural praxis; critical pedagogy; oral communication; general education
The 'free market' ideology is the reigning viewpoint of our time (Centeno and Cohen 2012). Its success in withering criticism has not entirely thwarted growing moral repugnance to the gross injustices it is spawning, particularly its callous indifference to human suffering and contribution to vast environmental degradation. Increasingly, questions are raised regarding the erosion of democratic accountability in the 'new world order' in which corporations wield so much power over the basic conditions of life on the planet (Shapiro 2006: 201). Globalisation, however, is not new. For centuries, Europeans in particular, but others as well, have traversed the globe to buy and trade, invading and upsetting local ways of life and traditions. In some ways this is positive, as civilisation clearly advances along with trade and the liberalising effect of interacting with diverse people. For these and other reasons, some view globalism as inevitable and desirable and willingly embrace it (e.g., Friedman 2007; Lechner 2005; Nye 2002).
On the other hand, many people around the world regard globalisation with suspicion, viewing it as a threat to jobs, culture and the environment. As critics point out, globalisation increasingly leads to inequality between countries, wealth for a few, and mounting poverty for many. Moreover, globalisation is linked to such environmental disasters as global warming, deforestation and accelerated reduction in biodiversity (Nye 2002, 2009; Gore 2013). Sorrells and Nakagawa (2008) argue that the current wave of globalisation, deeply rooted in an ideology of European colonisation and Western imperialism, has thrust people from different countries and cultures together into shared physical and virtual workplaces, schools and communities in unprecedented ways, often benefiting the stronger over the weak. The inequities in our society are evident in how communication technology is allocated in our world. Sorrells (2008) reports that while technological advances enable about 15 per cent of the earth's inhabitants to connect to the world on wireless laptops at home or in our favorite coffee spots, more than 50 per cent of the earth's population lives below the poverty line. These people start their day without the basic necessities of sufficient food, clean water and safe shelter. They have become an exploited population whose lands, resources, or labour is the engine of world economic growth but who see few of the benefits that are produced.
The problem, notes Sorrells (ibid), is that for many in the US, their continuing belief in their 'exceptionalism' and moral superiority as a civilisation influences how they understand and interpret their world and other cultures, rendering social injustice invisible: 'These hidden assumptions mask historically inequitable relations of power that contribute to the maintenance of social, political, and economic injustice' (ibid: 21). To remedy this situation, Sorrells advocates:
[a] critical approach to culture, sense-making, processes, and everyday lived practices [which] challenges these ethnocentric attitudes and nurtures the ability to understand cultures from within the cultures' frame of reference rather than interpreting and negatively evaluating other cultures from one's own cultural position (ibid).
Thankfully, educators have begun to take note of the impact that the market and social forces of globalisation have had on schools and colleges (Currie and Newson 1998; Slaughter 1997). Some argue that the market and social forces of globalisation have had an adverse impact on schools and colleges (Torres 2002; Wang, Lin, Spalding, Odell and Klecka 2011). Smith (2002), for example, points out that many schools have become locations for branding and sites for policy-market solutions and corporate expansion. Ritzer (2000) contends that education has become a victim of McDonaldisation which is the 'process by which the principles of the fast food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as the rest of the world' (ibid: 1). The four principles are efficiency, calculability, predictability and control. Ritzer (2000, 2004) argues that these principles can be found in a variety of industries within US society. The principles can also be applied to higher education.
The principle of efficiency is the concept of finding the most favourable and fastest method of achieving your desired result. In higher education, the use of multiple choice tests and scantron sheets allow professors to grade tests with less expenditure of time and energy. The second principle is calculabilty, the method of reducing all or most decisions down to numbers. The use of multiple choice questions, scantron sheets, and the use of grading rubrics helps reduce subjectivity and reflection, and thus time. The third principle is predictability, in which the options and choices are set, therefore being more efficient. Students only have the option of enrolling in a freshman composition course to meet the general education requirement for written communication instead of the option of a course on African American playwrights that is writing intensive. The fourth principle of control is the precise management of all these duties that entails the careful training of personnel and the aid of technology. Control not only involves the flow of production but the consumption of this as well. Entering freshers are taught to be efficient with the advisor's time by perhaps working in a small group with a professional advisor before being assigned to a faculty advisor. Some schools are even more clever and efficient and students are advised in a freshers orientation course. They are trained to come to the advising session prepared with a selection of courses and make maximum use of their allotted time.
Communication educators do not always acknowledge the role we play in endangering our democracy and our planet. It is imperative that we reevaluate communication curricula through the lens of globalisation. We argue that communication can be employed to assist students in learning how to use cultural critique to question the existing power structures within our society that disempower and disenfranchise certain groups. Communication educators can help realise this vision by developing a pedagogy that encourages an appreciation and understanding of diverse and marginalised voices in our world and focus on how to use rhetoric to foster social justice, advocacy and peace (see Swartz 1997).
Below, we examine the need to reevaluate and redescribe communication-related courses in the context of globalisation. We argue that the standard method for teaching these courses is limited in its approach to helping students communicate competently in a global society. Students must be able to critically examine the world around them and use communication to co-create a more peaceful and equitable world for all the earth's inhabitants. More specifically, our purpose is to develop a pedagogy in which students become more effective communicators in a global society. This vision can be realised through intercultural praxis, developed by Kathryn Sorrells (2013). This intercultural praxis model calls for 'critical, reflective, engaged thinking and action' (ibid: 15) that enables educators to help their students understand other cultures, find their voice, engage in critical dialogue and become empowered to use communication to advocate for social justice. We argue that this model, originally developed for studying intercultural communication in the context of globalisation, can also be used as a curriculum development framework to teach the basic communication course and highlight how the classroom can be a place of social change and provide a powerful environment for creating dialogue, emancipation and empowerment. The next section of the paper provides a closer examination of globalisation, exploring various definitions, descriptions and its adverse impact on education.
Globalisation: Ideology, pathology or just something we do
Globalisation is not one thing or even a common experience or phenomenon. Its experiences are uneven and continuouly changing. In India, China or Vietnam, globalisation may look like economic prosperity and opportunity, at least on the suface, while in regions such as Central America it may look like greed, exploitation or empire (Blum 2005; Hardt and Negri 2001).
President Barack Obama, in his June 2009 speech in Cairo, Egypt, said the purpose of his visit was to forge a new relationship between the US and Muslims worldwide. This was important for the new American president given the two on-going wars against predominantly Muslim nations in Iraq and Afghanistan (as well as the long-threatened war against Iran). Yet Obama's speech was much more than that. He addressed several key international issues, including economic development, opportunity and globalisation - the inequality of which animates much US adventurism:
I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and changing communities. In all nations - including my own - this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we will lose control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities - those things we must cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith (AmericaNews.com 2009, para. 62).
The competing and in some cases contradictory descriptions of globalisation - the fear, the lack of trust the developing world reasonably has about this reinvigorated Western project - suggest that the experience of globalisation is built on deeply embedded historical and philosophical experiences arising from strikingly different views or assessments. US citizens, after all, forget their history. The subaltern, however, have long memories. What Nye (2009) defines as globalisation, 'the increase in worldwide networks of interdependence' (ibid: para. 3), others may see as networks of dependence as in colonialism or neo-colonialism.
In this section we follow Sorrells (2008) in examining three dimensions of globalisation: social/cultural, political and economic. We acknowledge there are other facets of globalisation, including environmental and military which, while important, are outside the scope of our study.
The first type of globalisation, social/cultural globalisation, includes the dissemination, infusion, or exchange of ideas, images, artifacts, customs, cultures and interactions of people. The dimensions of social/cultural globalisation impact on people's ways of thinking, believing, behaving and communicating. As people travel across the world, they take their culture with them and, even if inadvertantly, recreate a sense of the familiar or home. In addition, people returning home from their travels take artifacts or reminders of the places they have visited. While the complicated notion of culture cannot be reduced to an item packed in a suitcase, the mementos we take or leave are important in representing our cultures, the languages we speak, the beliefs we hold and the practices we carry out.
The second type of globalisation is political. Sorrells (2008) argues there is a growing trend toward political globalisation. She cites an increased interconnectedness between nation-state politics, the development of bodies of global governance, and a global development of resistance in response to increased inequities in political power. Following the fall of the former Soviet Union in 1990, there has been a growing assumption that capitalism and democracy together will bring about global prosperity and peace. This assumption of 'democratisation', however, is highly suspect (Leys 2001; Nsouli 2008; Nye 2009; Palley 2006), as some observers and sceptics of globalisation conclude that the political agendas associated with 'democratisation' are closely related to the free-trade agreements of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), none of which deliver democracry in the sense of ensuring substantive equality for all (Swartz 2004).
Political globalisation, however, does not necessarily lead to democracy. As Barber (1992) elucidates, there is another tension, that between tribalism and globalism. He characterises tribalism and cultural terrorism such as jihad to describe approximately a hundred faiths that oppose 'every kind of interdependence, every kind of artificial social cooperation and civic mutuality' (ibid: 53). In contrast, Barber characterises capitalistic, corporate seduction with fast food, computers, technology, popular music and television as McWorld. These two clashes of culture and ideology create a dialectic in which the 'planet is falling precipitately apart and coming reluctantly together at the very same moment' (ibid: 53). He refers to this cultural clash 'as the two axial principles of our age' and argues they are both 'threatening to democracy' (ibid).
Finally there is economic globalisation: many economists, businesspeople, and journalists view globalisation and the world economy as one (Nye 2002). Friedman views it as the international system that replaced the one established by the Cold War involving the integration of capital, technology and information across national borders, creating a single global market or 'village' (Friedman 2007). What the champions of this view overlook is that the rules and regulations that govern this virtual community are displaced and unconnected from the actual world in which people live. Few object, after all, when the costs of development occur far away, but feel differently when the factory or waste site is in their backyard. When government ceases being local, the human cost of our politics are rendered invisible.
Globalisation and its discontents: Empowering our students
Life is seldom fair; nevertheless, we take hope in institutions (such as struggling public universities) that at least help prevent or ameliorate grave injustice by keeping the idea of a critical citizenry alive. Globalisation, at least potentially, removes this hope from us when it undermines institutions that ensure/support democratic, constitutional or human rights. On the other hand, we find hope in the many acts of resistance to globalisation by young people as they represent a reassertion of the spirit animating democracry (i.e., the Occupy and Black Lives Matter movements).
Clearly, resistance to globalisation and its adverse effects are erupting around the globe (most recently, for example, with the negative example of Brexit). Protestors are angry about the inequities between rich and impoverished countries, the policies of the Group of Eight (G-8), IMF and the World Bank, the lack of intervention from the United Nations, and the increasing militarisation and domination of foreign countries in the name of 'democracy' and 'freedom'. In recent decades, anti-globalisation protests have disrupted meetings around the world, including those of the IMF, World Bank and WTO, among others. Demonstrations were held during the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank in 1988 in West Berlin. Since then, protesters against globalisation have marched faithfully during WTO, IMF and World Bank meetings. The first mass anti-capitalist, anti-globalisation protest took place on 18 June 1999, when thousands of militant protesters took to the streets in more than 40 cities around the world including London, England, and Eugene, Oregon, in a mass movement known as the Global Carnival against Capital (Dodson, 2003). The event also came to be known as the J18.
The second major anti-globalisation protest, known as the Battle of Seattle or N30, occurred some five months later on 30 November 1999, in Seattle, Washington. With an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 protesters in attendance, the massive gathering turned violent, more than 600 people were arrested, and opening ceremonies of the WTO meeting were cancelled. The protest, however, continued throughout the four-day meeting. On 26 September 2000, 9,000 protesters in Prague voiced their fury and frustration over economics. The Seattle Times reported at least 69 people were injured and 44 hospitalised. News reports called Prague a 'smoky battle zone' (Seattle Times 2000: para. 4) filled with the chants of demonstrators yelling: 'London, Seattle, continue the battle' (ibid: para. 3) as they converged on Prague's Wenceslas Square, where peace protesters had gathered more than 10 years earlier to speak out against communism.
A later protest against the WTO in Seattle in 2001 resulted in more than 1,300 trade organisations and social movements from more than 80 countries. Since 2001, additional protests held in Quebec, Canada, Davos, Switzerland, and other places have become symbols of the festering and growing feelings of frustration and resentment about the unfair gap between rich and poor and the power inequities that exemplify globalisation (Sorrells 2008). These meetings, rallies and protests are being held around the world to develop programmes, strategies and oppositional forces to combat the various forms of globalisation - environmental, military, economic and others. The patchwork quilt of forces has formed a loosely-woven blanket of resistance: 'This decentralized, multi-headed swarm of a movement has succeeded in educating and radicalizing a generation of activists around the world' (Klein 2002: 2).
During 2011-2012, the movement against the inequities of globalisation experienced a burst of new energy with the 'Occupy Wall-Street' or, more generally, the 'Occupy Movement' (Balardini 2012). Watching these protests from our classrooms was invigorating - we cheered and spoke words of encouragement to our students, even giving academic credit for those who chose to be involved or excused their absence from class. As professors, we can think of no higher calling than to urge our students out of the classroom and onto the streets to apply and live the principles of social justice we profess. More recently, the Black Lives Matters movement has captured the attention of people living in the United States, as millions of Americans confront the ugly reality of systemic poverty, injustice and racism experienced by minority communities. Many of our students are actively involved with our blessing and occasional strategic advice. In a class taught by one of our colleagues, students founded a non-profit organisation to resist gentrification and related injustices to minority communities in Denver, CO, getting news coverage in the Guardian (see Tracey 2016).
Below we more systematically examine the influences of globalisation, power, consumerism and their adverse impact on youth and higher education. We conclude with the question: how do we envision a new globalised and critical praxis of citizenship education in the communication classroom? Or, more bluntly, how do we prepare the next generation of student protesters, keeping alive the spirit that animates our students today?
Power, Disneyisation of higher education and globalisation
Essential to our understanding of the consequential grip of globalisation on higher education is the consideration of the notions of power and consumerism. Power can be viewed as something that is imposed on or held over someone that other people do not have. In this sense power can be seen as coercion, control, or manipulation through language, thought, or action. In some cases, people are rendered helpless, defenceless and unable to respond or escape - physically or mentally (Swartz, Campbell and Pestana 2009). Power can also mean something different. For instance, Foucault challenges us to critically examine the relationship between power and the way it is understood, how it develops, its intricacy, how it functions and how it is formed. He notes that power is not something that is only hierarchical in nature, uniform or top down only in its approach; it is something that is pervasive, insidious, and grows and manifests itself within society. Power not only rests on the elements of repression and ideology, but goes a step further:
Power is taken above all carrying the force of a prohibition. Now I believe that this is a wholly negative, narrow, skeleton conception of power, one which has been curiously widespread. If power were never anything but repressive, if it never did anything but to say no, do you really think one would be brought to obey it? (Foucault 1984: 61).
Foucault further argues that power can be understood in terms of discipline and the function of rule, norms and regulations, reified through policies and procedures. It is through this normalisation of power that it becomes a process, it is enforced, and the language becomes codified:
What makes power hold good, what makes it accepted, is simply the fact that it doesn't only weigh on us as a force that says no, but that it traverses and produces things, it induces pleasure, forms knowledge, produces discourse. It needs to be considered as a productive network which runs through the whole social body, much more than as a negative instance whose function is repression (ibid).
An example is Barber's (1992) concept of McWorld, which he uses to describe the capitalistic spell that mesmerises consumers from fast food like McDonald's to MTV, fast computers, fast music and glamorous makeup and clothes. Ritz also observed this concept of 'McDonaldisation', as cited in Swartz et al. (2009). Ritz's critique also extends to mainstream America where 'McMansions' are becoming more prevalent in the suburbs - a sign of progress and affluence. The McDonald's mentality has become embedded in American culture. Bryman (1999) compares this idea to the policies, procedures, operations and marketing of the Disney theme parks, whose practices are being adopted across America as well as around the globe. Disney's amusement parks consist of fantasy worlds that transport the visitor to a different global location and even to outer space.
The bigger-than-life theme is also evident in oversized malls such as the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. The casinos and hotels of Las Vegas, also often built around a theme, transport the visitor to another world. Hotel visitors can travel around the globe: Caesar's Palace becomes Italy; New York, New York becomes a cosmopolitan city; Circus Circus becomes the ultimate children's three-ring circus event. Visitors are constantly surrounded by merchandise, food courts, casinos and amusement. Bryman (1999), who refers to this as the 'dedifferentiation of consumption' argues that the 'general trend of consumption associated with different institutional spheres becomes interlocked with each other and increasingly difficult to distinguish' (ibid: 33). This is apparent in Las Vegas where, he argues, guests may enter the hotel through a lobby filled with merchandise and a casino. Like Disney World, Las Vegas hotels offer themes and settings that carry the consumer into a make-believe universe. Bryman goes further to say that in this process, 'conventional distinctions between casinos, hotels, restaurants, shopping, and theme parks collapse' (ibid: 36).
The interlocking elements of globalisation have become weapons in what Giroux (2003b) characterises as 'the war against youth' (ibid: 145). He argues that neoliberal capitalism has created weapons to destroy our youth: inadequate healthcare, food, education, unemployment, corporate downsizing and corporate deregulation, among other basic necessities. These 'youth' are our students, our children, our friends. Unfortunately for many, culture has become a product to purchase as consumers and they are fluent in the language of capitalism.
The economic and market forces of capitalism and consumerism have changed the language we use in how we present ourselves and how we assess the behaviour of others (Fassett and Warren 2007; Giroux 2003b; Smith 2002; Sorrells 2008; Swartz 2006; Swartz et al. 2009). Stars such as Michael Jordan, Beyoncé, Martha Stewart, Kim Kardashian, and Queen Latifah market themselves as a brand. We are conditioned through advertising and the media to consume the products being sold for self-gratification and to be accepted by society. Giroux (2003b) argues that no longer defined as a form of self-development, 'individuality is reduced to the endless pursuit of mass-mediated interests and pleasures' (ibid: 154).
Zygmunt Bauman warns: 'Globalization is on everybody's lips, a fad word fast turning into a shibboleth, a magic incarnation, a passkey meant to unlock the gates to all present and future mysteries.' 'For some,' he continues, '“globalization” is the cause of our unhappiness' (as cited in Ibrahim 2007: 102). Bauman's stance astutely characterises the tensions that surround globalisation. Advocates such as New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman, Yahoo founder Jerry Yang, global corporate leaders and world organisations such as the WTO view it as an avenue for possibilities, profit, opportunity and expansion. However, sceptics of globalisation and public intellectuals such as McLaren, Giroux, Shapiro, Sorrells and many others are angered by the devastation, destruction and despair that globalisation has caused our youth, society, democracy and planet. We find compelling Giroux's question that educators must ask themselves in the context of globalisation:
Under this insufferable climate of increased repression and unabated exploitation, young people become the new casualties in an ongoing war against justice, freedom, citizenship, and democracy. What is happening to our children in America and what are its implications for addressing the future of higher education? (Giroux 2003a: 145).
In the context of globalisation, many critical educators continue to envision a different world and engage in a critical pedagogy that is transformative and helps students imagine that another world is possible. In the words of Paulo Freire (1994), teachers and students become 'critical co-investigators' and create projects of social justice, emancipation, peace, economic equity, global citizenship, cultural critique, dialogue, democracy, empowered voices and those yet to be imagined. For example, we teach variations of the following throughout our courses as appropriate: that is, issues of law, diversity and community as they have been played out historically in the construction of U.S. culture. We immerse students in hundreds of primary source historical documents (such as advertisements, archival newspaper articles, comics, court decisions, old photographs, personal letters from historical figures, statutes, videos and other cultural artifacts), along with critical, historical, legal, narrative, philosophical and sociological approaches to study diversity and the conflict that often surrounds the quest for economic, moral and social inclusion in this country. The overarching method of exploration is our and our student's moral imaginations - our ability to conceptualise and name the constraints placed on us by language and/or conceptual barriers so as to become morally intelligent agents in our relationships with others as well as to be more conscientious citizens in our increasingly heterogeneous and interdependent society.
In this way, we follow Freire, and help our students to envision a new 'globalized and critical praxis of citizenship education' (ibid: 89) in all that we do, but particularly in the undergraduate basic communication course. We argue that parrhesia, the Greek concept of 'fearless and bold speech' in the context of globalisation is fading (Patterson and Swartz 2014). The future of democracy, dissent, fearless and bold speech and educating for critical consciousness is being threatened around the globe. It is critical for communication scholars to examine our pedagogical practices and explore multiple and competing ways of knowing and learning in the college communication classroom.
The need for a global perspective in communication education
Deanna Sellnow and Jason Martin (2010) contend that one of the questions that 'continually perplexes basic communication course teacher-scholars is simultaneously simple and complex: just what is the basic course in communication?' (ibid: 33). We define the basic communication course as 'that course required or recommended for a significant number of undergraduates or that course which the department has or would recommend as a requirement for ... all or most undergraduates' (Morreale, Hanna and Gibson 1999: 3). Beyond this general definition, there are many opinions that surface regarding the content, how it should be taught and who should teach this course. One frequently asked question is: 'Should the course be focused more for skills for the workplace or to help students function as citizens in a democracy?'
In view of the above question, it is important to evaluate the course for several reasons. First, the basic communication course is included in the majority of two- and four-year colleges and universities and assists institutions in meeting its general education requirements. The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) reports that 56 per cent of the institutions surveyed showed that general education has become an increasing priority among their institutions, while only 3 per cent report that it is diminishing in importance (Glenn 2009). The survey also indicated that 89 per cent reported their colleges were either reevaluating or making modifications to their general education requirements. Carol Schneider, Association of American Colleges and Universities president, argued that a general education should produce graduates with 'a deep and flexible set of skills' and hence not rely too heavily on a narrow, technical, pre-professional model of education (as cited in Glenn 2009: A8). Furthermore, Schneider, citing a 2006 survey conducted by employers, noted that businesses also wanted colleges to emphasise written and oral communication, cross-cultural team communication skills, and other skills not directly linked to a specialised field of study (as cited in Glenn 2009).
Second, it is important to assess the ideological shifts in rhetoric in the context of globalisation. In higher education before 1885, public speaking was a skill used to engage in academic discourse and for citizenship issues. And although in the beginning public speaking was recognised as a skill to engage in critical issues, the course later developed into a focus on the basic skills of public address and elocution (Cohen 1994). This shift from the perspective of public speaking as a social- and critical-performance class to a class focused on standard, universal (i.e., Anglo-middle-class) delivery skills is an important shift that needs acknowledgement. Increased scholarship interest in areas such as feminist theory, intercultural communication and critical theory has increased. The absence of these perspectives in the most basic communication course, however, signals a gap between vision and reality as it relates to helping our students become competent communicators in the global village.
Furthermore, understanding how people use messages to create meaning and communicate across various contexts, cultures and media is of critical importance in a global society (Korn 2000). Scholars outside of the field of communication also attest to the centrality of communication education. McCloskey, a professor of economics, presents three primary reasons to support her argument: 'A nation of new minorities needs better communication skills; we are existing in a communication revolution with the same magnitude as the invention of printing; and many people earn their living through the use of talk' (as cited in Morreale, Osborn and Pearson 2000: 225). Hence, McCloskey concludes that the field of communication studies is critical to interdisciplinary teaching and research, but its theories must match the diverse identifications of our students.
A nationwide study conducted by Bollag (2005) concurs with this assertion. Results show there is a growing consensus among educators, business leaders and accreditors on what skills are necessary for all undergraduates. These include good written and oral communication skills, critical-thinking skills and the ability to work in teams. The data suggest, however, that many students finish college with serious deficiencies in these areas.
The fourth reason is that being a culturally competent communicator will help participants become responsible in the world, socially and culturally (Berry 2005; Fassett and Warren 2007; Gamble and Gamble 2008; Jaffe 2001; Jenefsky 1996; Morreale et al. 2000; Scudder 2004). There is a growing recognition among educators and business leaders that working, worshipping and living among people of other cultures will be inevitable for many in our society. 'Communication can be easy at play. It's harder at work, especially when there are significant differences in cultures, goals, and perspectives' (Scudder 2004: 559).
Scudder acknowledges that technological advances have made it easier to talk to one another but have not necessarily resulted in more effective communication. He argues too much communication is 'me to me'. The method leads to failure. In this context there is much work to be done in the area of globalisation. Consequently, in the 21st century, an increasing number of employees will be required to adjust their communication skills to the competency level of their communication partners. Therefore, communication educators must teach their students to become culturally competent communicators in a global society. To this end it is important to unmask 'white privilege' and undermine its normative power in limiting citizenship so narrowly, particularly in the critical arena of education (Matias 2016).
Many communication educators articulate that utilising critical pedagogy is a liberating and empowering classroom concept; however, in the classroom it may be more complex to implement from a practical perspective on a daily basis (Carter 2005; Cooks 2010). Those who do engage their students in the 'analysis and critique of power, identity, culture and schooling toward social justice and social change' (Cooks 2010: 296) find it to be transformative. Giroux (1994) states that critical pedagogy connects the intricate relationship among structures, identities and pedagogies. Giroux states that critical pedagogy ...
... signals how questions of audience, voice, power, and evaluation actively work to construct particular relations between teachers and students, institutions, and society, and classroom and communities... Pedagogy in the critical sense illuminates the relationship among knowledge, authority, and power (1994: 297).
In this section, we will briefly explain the model or concept of intercultural praxis and how it can be applied as a pedagogical framework for our study of the basic communication course. Sorrells (2016) contends that the concept of intercultural praxis is useful as a pedagogical tool to help guide students and provide them with an alternative 'way of being in the world that joins critical, reflective, and engaged analysis with informed action for socially responsible action for global justice' (ibid: 234). We further extend Sorrells' belief that intercultural praxis can develop students' intercultural competency to the notion that this concept can also be used to develop communication competency for students enrolled in the basic course in the context of globalisation. The following six entry points of inquiry, framing, positioning, dialogue, reflection and action were used as concepts to deconstruct the basic communication course in the context of globalisation.
As a place of entry for intercultural praxis, inquiry means a desire to know, ask and learn. Exploratory inquiry about those who are unlike us leads us to engaging with others. We are willing to take risks and be open to other perspectives. In relation to curriculum, inquiry is viewed as an invitation to question. It is used as a space for exploration (Patterson 2011). Questions are asked such as whose knowledge is presented? What ideologies are reinforced? (Sorrells 2010). Inquiry in the basic course may encourage your students to develop an informative speech on the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, or the Brexit vote in the UK, and to engage the causes of both. It may also increase a student's willingness to invite someone who is different from them to join their group for a class project and to explore collectively the reasons why certain social tensions exist.
When we think about the concept of framing, we reflect upon how our thoughts and our actions - our very sense of vision of the world - are limited by our conscious and unconscious frames (Patterson 2011). As a port of entry in intercultural praxis, framing means that we are able to zoom in and focus on the particular details of a specific exchange or interaction. Engaging in framing allows us to become more audience-centred in the basic course. In developing a speech assignment, the educator may consider requiring the student to develop a persuasive presentation from the perspective of an immigrant group in our society. Entering the port of framing would encourage the student to develop more sophisticated inquiry skills and require them to interview someone such as a Hispanic immigrant in order to conduct research on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme (DACA).
Sorrells (2010) contends that positioning refers to curriculum as a politics of location. It is critical to be able to locate 'knowing' in one's body/experience. It makes one mindful of the material, intellectual, and practical consequences of curriculum and how it relates to ourselves. Moreover, it allows the educator to look at different ways of helping students develop a way of knowing - other than the textbook. Positioning allows us to explore how to use our access to power, privilege, status and education to speak out for those who do not have access to the resources, cultural capital and audience, starting with our students. The entry port of positioning allows us to model for our students how to reflect upon whose voice is heard and whose voice is silenced depending upon the situation and the audience. The concept teaches students to interrogate critically sources beyond the traditional scholarly references that we teach from an academic standpoint but also whose 'truth' is being represented from the various media outlets and how those intersect and possibly contradict our students' lived experiences. Once students are able to make connections between reality as portrayed to them and the reality of their experiences, we can move our students to engaging in meaningful dialogue.
The entry port of dialogue invites the educator to view curriculum as a site of dynamic and substantive meaning-making. Regardless of the student's discipline or field of study, a dialogic form of education is essential in helping students problematise and understand their world. It is through dialogue that educators can reinvent our classroom and create spaces of freedom (Patterson 2011) in which students can begin to inquire about global issues or their impact. One of our students attended a protest rally for six African American teenagers convicted of beating a white student at Jena High School in Louisiana. The student travelled with other campus students. When he returned he was excited to reflect upon his experiences and then develop a persuasive speech for his classmates, animating life into what might have been a mere news story.
The concept of reflection allows the educator to review their pedagogy, what was effective that day, what was not effective. It allows us to consider our pedagogy for areas of synergy and growth. In participating in reflection as an educator, we are better able to help our students step back and reflect upon their assignments and readings beyond the current class and make connections. Reflection may mean keeping an instructional journal or developing a pedagogy circle with other instructors or even taking the time out of our research commitments to pen essays on pedagogy. Once we have informed our pedagogy and engaged in reflection, we can then help our students and our colleagues use their newly developed communication tools for action.
Intercultural praxis challenges us to move beyond curious inquiry, framing, positioning and reflecting, but to also take action (Patterson 2011). In curriculum as in teaching itself, action is a site for engagement. It allows us to connect what we are with what we know and with the needs of our students and to exemplify the engaged knower in the learning process. Curriculum planning involving action looks at how can we encourage and engage our students to make a difference in society and to encourage them to make being a change-agent a priority. In intercultural praxis educators are able to push beyond the boundaries of the textbook and the standard syllabus to help students see that education is not about preparation for a future life, but a life-affirming act of self-creation in the here-and-now with immediate impact on the community.
It is time to collectively and critically interrogate the impact of globalisation on our educational process. We must first understand the geopolitical history and forces that shape society and our world - globalisation. This paper is our attempt to encourage engagement in this critical discourse. We have explored the concept of globalisation and its various definitions and descriptions as well as the influences of globalisation, power, consumerism and its adverse impact on youth with an emphasis on higher education. Within this context, how do we envision a new globalised critical praxis of citizenship education in early level communication-related university courses? The classroom is representative of our world; it can be a site of social change, self-reflection and development of our critical consciousness. The lessons learned in our schools can either help us create a more peaceful society or lead to more destruction and demise.
We can connect our students and classrooms to issues that impact our local community, nation and world. We must revision the basic course in a way that can aid with the evolution of this course in a world that is coping with the myriad faces of globalisation.
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Note on the contributor
Andrea Patterson-Masuka (PhD, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2011) is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies at Winston-Salem State University. A former journalist, she has co-edited three books and has published several essays and book chapters focusing on intercultural communication, racism, social justice and the basic communication course. As a critical communication scholar and teacher, what grounds her research is a concern for social justice. Her research interests are in social justice, critical theory, intercultural communication, the basic communication course and critical service learning.
Omar Swartz (PhD, Purdue University, 1995; J.D., Duke University, 2001, magna cum laude) is Associate Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver. His areas of research and teaching are law and diversity, First Amendment studies, cultural criticism and philosophical problems in the social sciences. He is the author or editor of 12 books and more than 100 essays, book chapters and reviews.