Knowledge and Global Order

The reticence to alter the confines of our respective knowledge frameworks is critical for transnational and transcultural relations. Nevertheless, this debate seems to be underscored by infinitely complex issues and an overall impasse in establishing common grounds of understanding. In even worse scenarios, the debate is cut short by defeatist claims about the incompatibility of divergent moral truths, or in extremis, by postulates of an irreversible “clash of civilizations”.  Yet, as overwhelming as this polemic appears, it ultimately boils down to the nature of our knowledge, the manner and content of what and how much “we know”, or “think” we know.

A first problem that is easy to identify is the limitedness of distinct national curricula which alongside the purpose of education, projects national biases and dichotomies. The education system in nearly every country is usually more concerned with providing knowledge of local and national history rather than global history. However, there needs to be a paradigmatic (and perhaps, also pragmatic) shift toward being open to learning about global histories and cultures. Today, more than ever before, the world is interconnected through globalization in the form of trade, the exchange of ideas, and closer interpersonal contact between people from different cultures and with different knowledge bases.

Globalization can create tension both within and between cultures as a result of increased contact with distant “others” and rapid exposure mediated by social media and information technologies. The solution at hand appears obvious and easily attainable: we need ways of spreading knowledge that can serve to nurture co-existence among people and groups in a globalizing world, reducing ignorance and mythologies that create rigorous classifications and `otherness`. Such education is critical in improving intercultural relations and creating a sense of commonness based on our shared histories.

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