Global Perspectives: From Detroit to the Philippines

Global Perspectives: From Detroit to the Philippines

Professor Karen Miller (History) discussed the connection between her own research and the relevance of the college-wide Global Learning Competency.

Managing Inequality by Karen R. Miller

Managing Inequality by Karen R. Miller

My goal is to have engaged conversations with faculty across disciplines about what the scale of global inquiry looks like. In my own work, I have moved from being a US historian of American cities (Detroit, specifically) to an historian who is exploring the role of the US in the world. I am now researching and writing about the US presence in the Philippines between 1898 and the 1950s, from the moment the Philippines became a US colony to about ten years after it gained political sovereignty. I am really interested in the relationship between these two fields of study. How are American cities, which look like domestic spaces, intertwined with global phenomena? Part of this answer is clearly immigration and immigrants, but how else are these spaces linked? Governmentally? Economically? Ideologically? Does global inquiry provide us with a different kind of lens for understanding both domestic and international spaces and relations?

Americans guarding Pasig River bridge, 1898

Americans guarding Pasig River bridge, 1898, See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Those are my research interests and they are very closely tied to my pedagogical interests. I am very interested in a national dialogue among American historians about how to internationalize the teaching of US history. So, how can my course readings and assignments help students make connections between these spaces and histories? How can low-stakes and high-stakes writing, small group activities, and other forms of student-centered learning help me create a classroom where these forms of inquiry are understood, valued, and taken up by students?

I think that it’s really exciting to have a Global Learning competency and I like the way that we are approaching it as a college — allowing for community-wide discussions about how to understand and interpret this new competency. The seminar is a way to support that discussion. Because it is year-long and will be a continuing conversation, it will allow us to dig deeper than we might be able to in conversations that last through a single meeting. We are looking for ways to think about and understand Global Learning and discussing strategies for implementing it in our classrooms. I love how interdisciplinary the seminar is. I am really struck by how much we have to say to each other across disciplines, and how much the questions that we are all raising — from natural science to the humanities are interlinked.  As the seminar progresses, faculty will take these strategies back to their departments and programs, and continue these conversations there.”