The Pew Research Center 2018 found that the global public pays more attention to national news and local news than to international news.
According to that survey, 57 percent of people worldwide follow international news. If you focus only on the United States, this number will increase to 68 percent. This is a smaller number than the following national and local news outlets.
Robert Brathwaite, a professor of international relations, thinks that one of the main reasons why students do not pay attention to international events is that they are not given proper reasons to care.
“I think, whether it’s as a professor or a policymaker, we don’t make a good enough case for why these things are important,” Brathwaite said.
Whether it’s exciting or not, Johanna Schuster-Craig, a professor of global studies in the arts and humanities, says the luxury of not caring for people outside of our city or state can no longer be afforded.
“Covid showed us that,” he said. “But so is climate change. We are all dependent on each other and we can’t get out of the epidemic if we don’t all follow the same rules, and we can’t get out of climate change unless we all follow the same set of rules.”
Chloe Weigel, a senior in social relations and policy and history, pointed to the Michigan State University Model United Nations, or MSUMUN, as a way for students to practice researching international events. The focus of the organization is international engagement, but also to give students the opportunity to discuss and research topics.
Weigel, MSUMUN’s chief of staff, said it can be difficult for many students to get involved in world events because it is difficult to distance themselves from their busy lives at school and other activities.
“But there are so many great ways to get involved on campus,” Weigel said. “I think again, what should we focus on; How can you engage and organize students? ”
Schuster-Craig said the best way for students to learn more is to just read more.
“I think one of the things that keeps people from being interested is that they feel stupid,” says Schuster-Craig. And it’s a very simple problem to fix: just read more. “
Brathwaite said he believes more students should consider taking classes that involve a subject they don’t know much about.
“All students have to pay some credit every time,” Brathwaite said. “I think it involves things that no one is familiar with, not only does it give you this new knowledge about international events … but I think it helps build new skill sets in some ways.”
Schuster-Craig said it is also important to pay attention to international news to understand the importance of engaging with international governments. He thinks an important debate happening around the world right now is whether the United States and European countries will issue patents for the vaccine so that other countries can produce the vaccine.
Students can visit the website of MSU’s International Studies Program to get relevant information about different countries and continents.
Why the entire United States falls into this pattern of focusing only on national news or local news, Schuster-Craig said he believes this is how people are taught to think about the United States.
“Americans are taught that America is the best,” he said. “And if America is the best, you don’t have to know anything about anyone else.”
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