Students turned their minds to the relationships and tensions between state sovereignty and international collaboration in the Global Issues seminar in St Catz yesterday. There was a hum of excitement and true investment in the subject matter, as students uncovered ever more examples from current affairs to inject into the discussion.
Of course, no seminar on global issues is complete without at least one mention of Donald J Trump, and yesterday’s was no exception to this rule. Students considered the President’s recent decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change, to rapid and unequivocal censure from the international community―Britain’s own Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, asserted that Trump could not “simply walk out of the room when the heat is on”. In this way, the President’s action (if he is indeed able to carry it through) and show of US sovereignty presents a direct threat to the wellbeing of something in which we all have the most direct stake: the planet.
Hard on the heels of Trump came an evocation of Brexit, the UK’s own recent exercise in sovereignty at the expense of international cooperation. Students wondered whether the concept of sovereignty is one outdated in the age of globalisation, mass migration, and increasing interconnectedness―it is true that ORA itself demonstrates how ideas and enterprises are concertedly crossing international boundaries, and one might justly wonder how relevant these boundaries continue to be.
After facing off with these hard questions and ideas, students enjoyed an evening of escapism in the hands of Creation Theatre―their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream saw students utterly immersed in the action, solving clues and using props themselves to further the plot and move it, physically, through the streets of Oxford.