|Teaching Civic Engagement Globally is the result of collaborative work spanning scholars from multiple disciplines, fields, and careers. Political scientists, educators, and students have joined to produce important, timely research.|
by Dmitry A. Lanko, St. Petersburg State University
In Russia, a vast majority, equally those with a college degree and those who have not completed a high school, are interested in foreign policy, with the foreign and the defense ministers always being among top five most popular politicians. At the same time, most Russians are not interested in personally engaging in foreign policymaking thanks to widespread belief that a successful foreign policy is a result of properly understood geopolitically predetermined national interest. If everything is predetermined, why personally engage? This chapter assumes that it is a problem with Russian foreign policy, and it offers a solution. It presents an in-class foreign policymaking simulation course offered to graduate students in a Russian university, which allows the students attending it to assess the extent, to which foreign policy begins at home, based on their own experience. Analysis of the students’ feedback from 12 years of implementation of the course demonstrates that contrary to previous literature on international relations pedagogy in Russia, participants of the course tend to rarely refer to geopolitics and national interest when asked to rationalize a foreign policy choice.
Instead, the students refer to economic, humanitarian, soft security, and environmental reasons more often, which positively influences their civic engagement in foreign policymaking in multiple ways. That concerns all students almost equally, regardless of their gender or country of previous education. The chapter proposes to amend traditional nation-oriented approach to teaching foreign policy to graduate students with group-oriented foreign policy analysis. In accordance with the nation-oriented approach, students in international relations classes are often asked to think about what the consequences of a particular foreign policy choice to a particular nation could be, and how the nation could pursue its foreign policy choices in the best possible way. In accordance with the group-oriented approach, students are asked what the consequences of a particular foreign policy choice to a particular business or a group of people could be, and how the business or the group could influence foreign policy choices made on the national level in the best possible way.
Thus, group-oriented foreign policy analysis – the term proposed in this chapter – is client-oriented advice relevant to a decision in the field of foreign policy, where the client is not necessarily a governmental institution, but any group influenced by international affairs. Those groups are businesses, non-profits, non-associated minorities, individual activists, etc. The chapter concludes that improvement of students’ civic engagement in foreign policymaking is not the only effect of introducing group-oriented foreign policy analysis alongside traditional nation-oriented foreign policy analysis in international relations classes. Also, it helps improving international relations courses in the situation, when most students are not interested in becoming diplomats of the country, in which the course is taught, either because they are international students or because they simply aim at other careers than civil, diplomatic, or military service.
About Teaching Civic Engagement Globally
Educators around the globe are facing challenges in teaching politics in an era in which populist values are on the rise, authoritarian governance is legitimized, and core democratic tenets are regularly undermined. To combat anti-democratic outcomes and citizens’ apathy, Teaching Civic Engagement Globally provides a wide range of pedagogical tools to help the current generation learn to effectively navigate debates and lead changes in local, national, and global politics. Contributors discuss key theoretical discussions and challenges regarding global civic engagement education, highlight successful evidence-based pedagogical approaches, and review effective ways to reach across disciplines and the global education community.