Hart house is hosting the first-ever Hart House Global Commons on March 22. Students from Sciences Po in Reims, France, and Indiana University Bloomington in Indiana, USA, will join U of T students virtually in a discussion about the rise of nationalist movements around the world. We have already heard from two U of T students and one IU Bloomington student about their involvement in this much needed global conversation, and now we turn to Sciences Po students Katarina, and Sebastian.Why did you choose to get involved? K: I was made aware of this initiative through a specific class that I am taking at Sciences Po, Citizens and Politics. I was motivated by this particular subject, in light of recent events, and wanted to understand how they came about from a practical and theoretical framework, their repercussions, and get my fellow peers’ take on the events through discussions.SM: I chose to get involved in this project because this semester I am taking three classes in political sciences, two of which focus especially on political representation.
In your opinion, how is the topic of nationalism relevant to students today?K: New nationalism is relevant to all segments of society due to the pervasiveness of the issues as well as its successful rise in prominence and power. As students from all around the world, new nationalism is a phenomenon that we will have to address from multiple standpoints and contexts.
SM: I think Nationalism is a currently relevant topic to students since it is reviving in many states around the world. Let’s think about America First, or the racist statements of Marine Le Pen in France and Matteo Salvini in Italy. As a European, I feel moreover that nationalism is nowadays strongly linked with the EU, since indeed nationalist (and many times populist) movements blame the EU as a scapegoat for contemporary economic and political issues, and advocate for the return of a more nation-centered political agenda, independent [of] international trends and institutions.
What would you say to a fellow student who was unsure about attending Global Commons?K: This conversation is a unique opportunity to exchange views between students from multiple universities and develop these views, and should therefore definitely not be missed.SM: I would tell her such a possibility […] can open her eyes concerning such a hot topic, and that it would be a unique opportunity to listen to different points of view and ideas to better understand what she thinks herself.
How do you feel about students from universities abroad getting involved? What would you ask them if you could meet them in person?K: As a student currently studying at a university not in her native country, I have seen how enriching it is to talk to students from different backgrounds as it adds much more to a conversation than simply if everyone has had the same experiences. I would ask if there is a specific way that nationalism has impacted their personal lives directly or indirectly?SM: I think that having students of different nationalities from different universities makes such a project more far-reaching and ambitious. I think that it will be really interesting to listen to other students and to understand what they think in order to better define what I think myself too. If I were to meet them in person I’d ask them why they decided to participate in this project and whether they think nationalism will gain importance and power in the future.