The international studies group meets monthly, usually on the 4th Monday of the month, apart from December and August. We are working together to build our understanding of the world we live in.
The method we use is to work through a book over several months, tackling one, two or three chapters at a time. Different members of the group prepare and lead on different chapters, but there is no obligation to do this for those who prefer not to. We have lively discussions; we do not always agree with the authors we are reading, but we back up our discussions with research elsewhere on the internet or in the media, or call on other things we have read or personal experiences. It is very interesting to make links between different books and their view of the world. None of us started as experts, but our understanding is growing!
We meet in each other's houses, including Steyning, Henfield, Storrington and Shoreham.
These are the books we have worked through so far:
June 2010 to October 2011: "When China Rules the World – the rise of the Middle Kingdom and the end of the Western World" by Martin Jacques
November 2011 to October 2012: "The New Brazil" by Riordan Roett
November 2012 to February 2013: "After the Arab Spring: How Islamists Hijacked The Middle East Revolts" by John R Bradley
March 2013 to June 2013: "Time to start thinking: America and the spectre of decline" by Edward Luce
July to October 2013 "The Morality of China in Africa: The Middle Kingdom and the Dark Continent" by Stephen Chan.
November 2013 to February 2014 "No One's World: The West, the Rising Rest, and the Coming Global Turn" by Charles A. Kupchan
March to July 2014 "India, the Road Ahead" by Mark Tully
September to November 2014 "Borders: A Very Short Introduction" by Alexandar C Diener & Joshua Hagen
January to June 2015: "The New Cold War: Putin's threat to Russia and the West" by Edward Lucas.
September 2015 to February 2016: "Britain for Sale" by Alex Brummer.
March to November 2016 "Turkish Awakening- Behind the Scenes of Modern Turkey" by Alev Scott.
January 2017 to November 2017 "Globalisation a very short introduction" by Manfred B Steger.
January to June 2018 "Bangladesh confronts climate change: Keeping our heads above water" by Manoj Roy, Joseph Hanlon and David Hulme.
September 2018 to February 2019 "Asia's Cauldron; The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific" by Robert D Kaplan.
March to July 2019 "The Retreat of Western Liberalism" by Edward Luce.
September 2019 to January 2020 "Nigeria, what everyone needs to know" by John Campbell and Matthew T. Page.
From March 2020 "The New Silk Road - the present and future of the world" by Peter Frankopan.
We each buy a copy of the book, and many thanks to Steyning Bookshop and group member Val Bullen who have organised us to source our books locally.
Ideas for our next book welcome. In general we alternate between a book that deals with global or transnational issues and a book that tackles a specific country.
What we ask of our books is that they be intelligent, reasonably readable, specific and affordable, treading a fine line between breadth and depth.
Our format has developed so that from time to time we hold a meeting where members can each bring along a recent cutting or other media publication on an international theme to discuss, and if we feel it works with the current book we divide the meeting between looking at one or two chapters and sharing more up to date information and views.
This may include discussing views put forward by an expert external to the group. We had looked for a book dealing with language issues in international matters, but not found one we felt suitable for the group. Justin Young kindly brought his expertise to bear, and found and shared a paper in advance 'Translation in Multilateral Diplomacy: Cultural and Political Hurdles' by Aziza Afkir. In July 2018 the choice was to view and discuss a talk available on the internet from the writer Parag Khanna, author of 'Connectography: Mapping the future of global civilisation’, together with a shorter interesting TEDx talk video by Rush Doshi on 'China, India and the future of Asia'. In February 2019, following discussion of the Epilogue from the Kaplan book, we also watched two videos one concerning China & the South China Sea, the other NATO & the US perspective on Europe as explained in a presentation in Hungary. We are grateful to group member Brian Webb for finding these videos for us. In February 2020 four group members will each lead a brief discussion on some intergovernmental organisations: NATO, CIS, IPCC and WEF.
Our aim is to complement, not compete with, other groups dealing with international matters.
At present we have a waiting list for joining the group.
Please contact Hannah Robins on 01273 492202 if you would like to discuss any issues related to the group.