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The Return of DP ‘GPS Book Club’

If you have a Grade 12 child at UNIS Hanoi, you know that May for the seniors is all about our IB exams. We might be sitting between 12-18 different ‘exams’ which are really essays in our different subjects, each designed to measure how much we have actually learned in our subjects.

Global politics is no different!!! Like other classes, we practice past papers, review concepts, identify strategies for success on our GPS exams but we also take part in a ‘GPS Book Club’.

The idea behind the GPS Book Club is to continually read and discuss good writing by political scientists, international relations specialists and others who write on various human rights, development, and peace and conflict topics.

Three months before our exams, each of us chooses a book on our interested topic. Some of us use the School library, have books at home, and some choose books from Mr A’s expansive GPS library.

David, who recently organised a visit to the ‘54 Traditions Gallery’ for his global politics year 1 colleagues, borrowed “…the ‘Return of History’ by Robert Kagan. The book is about the continuing conflict between liberal democratic and more autocratic ideologies following 9/11. It is a response to Francis Fukuyama’s article ‘The End of History?’ which basically argued that after the Cold War, there was only one political system left standing and that was liberal democracy. Times have changed.”

“One of the concepts we covered in GPS…” according to Chau Anh “…in our peace and conflict unit that interested me was violence. I chose ‘On Violence’ by Hannah Arendt. What I understand from what I am reading is that the presence of violence and acts of violence require context and structure. That is what Arendt is saying to me.”

Shinno remarked “…I am really interested in global diplomacy and geopolitics. I also like controversy and conspiracies. I knew from class that Henry Kissinger was a controversial character. Mr A has all his books. When Kissenger died a few weeks ago, I knew I wanted to read something by him. He is a good writer and ‘World Order’ focuses on the structure of international relations.”

Ivan told us “…I know Paul Collier from our unit on development, especially his work on poverty, welfare, and wellbeing. I was curious about his book ‘Wars, Guns, & Votes’ because it is a look into internal, domestic & intrastate wellbeing from the standpoint of human security and legitimacy. I’ve been challenged by Collier in a good way.”

“A lot of what we study in domestic and international politics deals with different types of groups and movements. Think of ‘Black Lives Matter’ or ‘Future for Fridays’ or ‘Boko Haram’” suggested Huyen Anh “…Charles Tilley has helped to create a framework where was can analyse and classify different social movements to understand why they form and how they might develop and influence different political issues. Reading good writing helps us write better.”