Cultural Diversity and European Integration
I'm teaching a world history course at Ewha Womans University this semester, but doing it very differently than I did with my history courses at Korea University. There, I taught six semesters of Western civilization, but I attempted to lecture to a mixed group -- some had excellent English skills and could follow in class, others had almost no English ability and couldn't even communicate during office hours.
From that experience, I've learned to focus on particular issues of particular times and promote discussion of the issues, and I've had opportunity to apply this approach at Yonsei University in its Underwood International College, where it worked with classes of 15 and under.
Here at Ewha, my class has around 50 students, most of whom have excellent English skills, so a lecture might work, but I've been trying something 'experimental' -- i.e., discussion, using discussions in small groups to prepare the students for a larger discussion among all. Here's how it works. After taking roll, I speak for five to ten minutes in an attempt to frame the issues to be discussed that day, then allow the students to segregate themselves into self-selected groups of around six individuals, where they discuss the answers to a list of questions on the readings that I've prepared in advance, after which, the students turn to a forty-minute classtime discussion where we discuss the answers to the questions as a class.
This seems to work.
But the time is approaching when I need to gauge what the students are learning, and that means research papers! Since the class is a first-semester freshman course, I'm asking for only a five-to-eight-page paper, and I expect only a simplified citation style, which I'll explain in a moment, but first things first!
The course is titled "Cultural Diversity and European Integration," and here is how I've conceived of it:
In Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order, Robert Kagan proposes that Europeans are "turning away from power . . . [and] moving . . . into a self-contained world of laws and rules and transnational negotiation and cooperation . . . . a post-historical paradise of peace and relative prosperity, the realization of Immanuel Kant's 'perpetual peace'" (page 3). But is this European perception of its role realistic or deluded? European integration has drawn together a collection of distinct nations, each characterized by its own particular culture, forming a truly multicultural organization. These nations, nevertheless, share much the same civilizational identity, as Samuel Huntington (Clash of Civilizations) would have agreed and Remi Brague (Eccentric Culture) would still attempt to set forth. But as Christopher Caldwell shows in Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West, the ongoing, extensive immigration from the world to Europe may be introducing a more radical version of cultural diversity, as groups adhering to other than Western identities increase and begin to practice, if not explicitly demand, cultural autonomy. Do such groups pose a political threat to the European paradise of peace? Were the Paris riots, for example, a harbinger of cultural -- perhaps even civilizational -- conflict to come? This course will focus upon such questions, broadly conceived.The readings week by week are organized as follows:
Weeks 1-2: Riots in EuropeArticles accompany each of these, but even without posting those here, I think that my focus is clear enough. Hence the question that I've raised for the students to consider:
Week 3: Culture and Conflict
Week 4: Multiculturalism and Cultural Relativism
Week 5: European Identity
Week 6: Islam in Europe
Week 7: European Decline
Week 8: European Union
It's time to start thinking about your project.That last paragraph gets at what I want, and to put it into question form, I'd ask:
The topic is the topic of this course: "Cultural Diversity and European Integration." By this time, you should be aware of the problems -- in terms of culture, anyway. There exist other problems as well, such as political, legal, economic, and so on, but we've not dealt much with these. However, if you can integrate any of these other problems into your research, feel free to do so.
Your paper will not be long, only 5 to 8 pages. This means that you must focus on what you consider the most crucial problem facing Europe in its attempt to integrate itself. You will need to identify the problem, show why it is a problem, and offer a well-reasoned opinion on whether the problem can be overcome.
What crucial problem confronts Europe in its attempt to integrate itself, why is this a problem, and can the problem be overcome?This question lends itself to formulation of a thesis statement of the following form:
Europe's major problem in integrating itself is "X", and this is a problem because "Y", and this problem cannot be overcome because "Z".Or one might be more positive:
Europe's major problem in integrating itself is "X", and this is a problem because "Y", but this problem can be overcome because "A".Or one might see plural rather than singular problems:
Europe's major problems in integrating itself are "X" and "X*", and these are problems because "Y" and "Y*", and these problems cannot be overcome because "Z" and "Z*".Or, more postively:
Europe's major problems in integrating itself are "X" and "X*", and these are problems because "Y" and "Y*", but these problems can be overcome because "A" and "A*".Students will need to reflect on these examples and come up with a reasonable thesis statement of their own, based on the readings and on their own reasearch.
The thesis should be placed at the end of a single introductory paragraph -- this is a short paper, after all! -- as that paragraph's final sentence. Following that introductory paragraph (which opens broadly and narrows down to the thesis) come a series of body paragraphs (each characterized by a topic sentence, supporting sentences, and a concluding sentence) that present the student's views, offering reasons and evidence to support the thesis statement. Concluding the paper will be a concluding paragraph that opens with the restated thesis statement and that broadens out to a close.
Here are what I expect as a simplified "Works Cited" bibliography:
Anderson, Tim. Culture of Postmodern European Watermills. 2010. [Book]That ought to suffice as a model -- it's in alphabetical order and covers most of what students are likely to use. So much for the bibliography. But students will also need to use in-text citations (i.e., not footnotes). Take the following paragraph as an example:
Blake, William. "Satanic Water Mills and Post-Capitalist Europe." Journal of European History. 2009. Volume 32. Number 3. Pages 3-11. [Journal Article]
Crumb, Walter. "A Rising Tide Washes Over European Watermills." Old York Times. January 3, 2008. Page C3.
Dumb, Johnny. "Religious Fanaticism in All Watermills." Euro-Skeptical Muser. 2007. [Website]
Even, Git N. "Watermills, Shmattermils!" Currents Magazine. May 2009. Pages 7-10. [Magazine]
An astonishing variety of opinions weigh in on the question of whether or not Europe can successfully cope with the appearance of new watermills as the old watermills decline in number. Some scholars say that multicultural watermills will overwhelm the European variety and stop Europe's attempt at integrating its many mills (Anderson, page 33), but if William Blake is right, even the European watermills were already corrupt, and he locates the problem in the evil nature of post-capitalism, which he terms 'Satanic' (Blake, page 7). Johnny Dumb, however, disagrees with Blake and points to the religious fanaticism that he finds rife in all watermills, for each rests upon a fundament and can thus be criticized for a sort of fundamentalism (Dumb). Yet, Walter Crumb agrees with Tim Anderson, arguing that the threat lies not with European mills, but with the rising tide of foreign watermills, and he offers the statistics to support his case (Crumb, page C3). But Git N. Even claims that no matter who is right, there's no difference, and admits, "I don't even care, and neither should you" (Even, page 10). Who is right? We will need to consider the various positions more carefully.That ought to prove amusing and thereby catch students' attention, but I suppose that I'll need to talk about these things in class today anyway since deadlines are approaching.
And thus goes my Gypsy Scholar day . . .