Course “Global Challenges for the 21st Century: The View from the South”

As the 21st century progresses it is clear that the world as a whole faces a number of major challenges ahead of it. Attempts to try to deal with these challenges, and the degree of success that comes with these attempts, will almost certainly shape the future of humankind for a long time to come, and perhaps will even determine the most basic, fundamental question of all – do we actually have a future? For most of us, the way we see and interpret these challenges, as well as the solutions that will be put forward, will be determined by the major political powers and socio-economic forces of the developed world, along with the global institutions that they control – the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation etc. But will the solutions be the right ones – not just for us but even more particularly for the less developed countries of the world located principally in the southern hemisphere, which are actually going to be the ones most affected by the coming challenges? Will the powerful states and institutions of the ‘North’ take on board the situation in the ‘South’? Will the southern hemisphere countries and their peoples be given a real voice to express themselves? How in fact do these challenges and problems look from their perspective? Do they look different? What if they have alternative solutions to put forward, what might these be? How and from where might these alternative solutions be formulated? Might any alternative solutions also have potential positive consequences for us, if they are allowed to be put forward and adopted?

It is these kinds of issues (and others) that will be at the heart of this course.

Outline of course

There will be 8 meetings (with each meeting lasting 3 academic hours). Each meeting will take the form of a short lecture followed by a seminar discussion. It is very much hoped that there will be lots of discussion and debate between all of us as equal participants in the seminar. There will also be some audio and video material for each seminar (in either English or Italian) and reading material will be provided for each seminar (which will principally relate to material in Italian). The key topics for discussion are designed to generate and provoke critical thought and reflection and it is therefore very much hoped that all students will be motivated to participate actively.


Session 1 – Tuesday 7 May – 15.00-17.15 – Introduction to the course.
Session 2 – Wednesday 8 May – 15.00-17.15 – The challenge of global poverty
Session 3 – Thursday 9 May – 15.00-17.15 – The challenge of population growth and feeding the world Session 4 – Friday 10 May – 15.00-17.15 – The challenge of sustainable life in the Age of the Anthropocene Session 5 – Tuesday 14 May – 15.00-17.15 – The challenge of urban slums
Session 6 – Wednesday 15 May – 15.00-17.15 – The challenge of mass migration [1] – Historical factors Session 7 – Thursday 16 May – 15.00-17.15 – The challenge of mass migration [2] – Contemporary factors Session 8 – Friday 17 May – 15.00-17.15 – What future lies ahead? 

Global Challenges for the 21st century – The view from the South – Messina May 2019