| By Mary Ruby |
Global perspective. These words are increasingly uttered by educators and employers who understand that this combination of mindset and acquired skill is a critical element for interacting, working, and succeeding in the 21st-century world.
As a senior content developer at Gale, my goal is to bring people information not only to meet their needs but to spark curiosity and encourage further investigation and learning. In recent years, the challenge has expanded to building international coverage, appealing to a global audience, and aligning content with topics studied at the collegiate level.
This latter ambition is tied to trends in education, from the nearly 40% increase in International Baccalaureate schools over the past five years1 to the growth of global studies degree programs, ranging from associate to doctoral levels. Common links among these curricula are an interdisciplinary approach, a focus on global issues, and the cultivation of cross-cultural awareness. For instance, at the University of California, Berkeley, a learning goal of its Global Studies program is “apply[ing] an interdisciplinary approach to the study of contemporary global issues,” while the College of William & Mary notes that students will explore “the ways in which global forces are realized in and through local contexts, and the interconnections between global regions.”
The aforementioned factors figured prominently in the development of Gale’s newest academic series, Legal Issues Across the Globe, which showcases the diversity of legal approaches to issues making headlines worldwide. Each of the six chapters in Volume One is devoted to a single topic and presents twelve country essays examining how the nation’s history and culture have influenced legislative and judicial actions on the matter.
To firmly establish global coverage, editor Thomas Riggs and his ten advisors (themselves hailing from ten different countries) selected timely issues and in every chapter included at least one representative country from each of the following regions:
- Eastern and Central Asia
- South Asia
- Sub-Saharan Africa
- The Middle East and North Africa
- Europe, including Russia
- Central and South America, including the Caribbean
- The United States and Canada
As a result, Volume One of Legal Issues Across the Globe boasts entries on fifty different countries and, because entries are equally weighted, no single viewpoint or country is given precedence. The common structure of the essays—introduction, historical and cultural background, legislation, outcome and trends, and bibliography—provides opportunity for comparison and multilayered analysis.
A challenge in creating such content is assembling the group of international contributors to select, create, and review the work for accuracy. The following infographic depicts the countries in which the volume’s contributors work (with the caveat that some, including several listed in the United States, are natives of other countries): view infographic.
Most of the academic contributors to Legal Issues Across the Globe are professors of law, but editor Thomas Riggs and his staff sought experts in other academic disciplines—including communications, criminal justice, political science, and sociology—when warranted by the entry topic. The chapters cover issues that are both controversial and newsworthy, including police misconduct, policy toward refugees, and the legal status of marijuana. Additionally, topics offer multiple ways for instructors to infuse global content into their classes.
For example, the country essays included in Volume One’s chapter on same-sex relationships—on Argentina, Canada, China, Ghana, India, Italy, Lebanon, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, and the United States—could serve as supporting material for the course Gender and Sexuality in World Civilizations, which is offered as part of the University of Chicago’s Global Studies program.2
Likewise, at Boston University, the Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies class on Reproductive Rights and Justice,3 which “analyzes the history, cultural and societal attitudes, and politics of reproduction and sexual health in the United States and globally” ties in nicely with Legal Issues Across the Globe’s chapter on the sexual and reproductive rights of women, covering Brazil, Colombia, India, Iran, Ireland, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, the Solomon Islands, and the United States.
And Stanford Law School students signing up for the class Free Speech in the Age of the Internet4 could prepare by reading the internet freedom of speech chapter in Legal Issues Across the Globe, which explores the topic in China, Cuba, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Jordan, Russia, Sri Lanka, Uganda, the United States, and Venezuela.
By highlighting the diversity of approaches to the same issue, Legal Issues Across the Globe offers students the opportunity to expand their horizons and challenge their assumptions. And with entries that provide a window into a range of world cultures, Legal Issues Across the Globe can help foster a global perspective.
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