The Pew Research Center found in 2018, that the global public focuses more on national news and local news than it does on international news.
According to that study, 57 percent of people throughout the world follow international news. If you focus solely on the U.S., that number grows to 68 percent. This is a small number compared to the numbers for national and local news following.
International relations professor, Robert Brathwaite, thinks that one of the main reasons that students do not pay attention to international events is because they are not given a good reason to care.
“I think, whether it be even me as a professor or policymakers sometimes, we don’t make a good enough case for why these things matter,” Brathwaite said.
Whether it is engaging or not, professor of global studies in arts and humanities Johanna Schuster-Craig said that the luxury to not care for people outside of our town or state is no longer afforded.
“COVID has shown us that," she said. "But so has climate change. We are all dependent on each other and we’re not going to get out of the pandemic unless everybody plays by the same set of rules, and we’re also not going to get out of climate change unless everybody plays by the same set of rules.”
Social relations and policy and history senior Chloe Weigel points 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 a chance to discuss topics and research them.
Weigel, who is the chief of staff for MSUMUN, said that for many students it can be difficult to engage in world events since it is hard to remove themselves from their busy lives of school and other activities.
“But there’s a lot of great ways to get involved on campus is the thing,” Weigel said. “I think that’s again, what we should be focusing on; how can you engage and mobilize students.”
Schuster-Craig said one of the best ways for students to learn more is to simply just read more.
“I think one of those things that stops people from getting interested is just feeling like they’re stupid," Schuster-Craig said. "Feeling like they don’t know enough to comment on anything that’s happening. And that’s a really easy problem to fix: just read more.”
Brathwaite said he believes more students should consider taking classes that are engaging in a topic they might not know much about.
“All students in some way need to fill out some credits every so often,” Brathwaite said. “I think engaging with topics that one isn’t familiar with, not only does it give you this new knowledge about maybe international events ... But I think it also, in some ways, helps generate new skill sets.”
Paying attention to international news is also important for understanding what is worth engaging with international governments about, Schuster-Craig said. She thinks one of the important debates happening right now globally is whether the U.S. and European countries will release vaccine patents so other nations can make the vaccine.
Students can visit MSU’s International Studies Program website to find relevant information about different countries and continents.
As for why the entire U.S. falls into this pattern of only paying attention to national news or local news, Schuster-Craig said she believes it is because of how people are taught to think about the United States.
“Americans are taught that America is the best," she said. "And if America is the best, then you don’t have to know anything about anybody else.”
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