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November 7, 2002 Globalization experts congregate at Concordia



Participants of the IPSA symposium at Concordia.

(click on photo to enlarge)

by Melanie Takefman

Although members of the International Political Science Association convened at IPSA’s Concordia headquarters on Oct. 24-26 to discuss the effects of globalization throughout the world, they are aware that those effects are highly visible at home.

The symposium, entitled Mastering Globalization: New States Strategies, was organized by Political Science Professor Guy Lachapelle and his colleague Stéphane Paquin, who are also secretary-general and secretariat coordinator of IPSA, respectively.

“There are no more barriers. Globalization affects everybody,” said Lachapelle.

IPSA is an academic consortium uniting 44 political science associations and 1,200 additional members. The fact that it is based at Concordia reflects the “de-territorialization” of ideas that accompanies globalization.

Furthermore, Concordia’s new engineering, computer science and fine arts building exemplifies the significance of the electronic revolution, as well as the way in which it touches every discipline, Lachapelle said. “The symposium highlights IPSA’s presence in Montreal.”

Similarly, Montreal represents the international exchange of ideas. After Boston, Montreal is home to the highest number of university graduate students in North America. Moreover, Quebec’s economy is the fifth most open in the world. Sixty per cent of products are exported, and 85 per cent of those exports are sold to the United States.

Increasingly, people are identifying themselves as North Americans and global citizens as well as Quebecers and Canadians, Lachapelle said.

One of the symposium’s themes was “globalization and the fragmentation of nations.” The national identities of sub-states like Quebec, Catalonia and Scotland were examined in the context of supranational forces. Lachapelle said that 180 national groups currently demand more autonomy.

André Lecours, an assistant professor of political science at Concordia, spoke at the IPSA symposium on the accommodation of national identities in North America and Europe.

While countries like Belgium and Spain have decentralized their federal systems of governance to increase regional autonomy, Canada’s “rigid majoritarian structure” caused the resurgence of Quebec nationalism in the 1990s, he said.

“Meech Lake was an opportunity to settle the problem [of giving Quebec distinct society status] long-term.

“Even though the odds were great towards a change in the constitution, there was a group of leaders in Canada who did not employ politics of accommodation. They believed that there is something fundamentally wrong with inequality or unevenness.”

If politicians from the rest of Canada had accommodated Quebec’s demands, there would not have been a referendum, he added.

According to Paquin, globalization comes with a universal acceptance of common rules: an open market, democracy and the desire to be rich.

“There is enough wealth in the world to eliminate poverty, but we can’t distribute it.” Thus, the challenge over the next few years will be to distribute the wealth to different parts of the world and to promote equality, he said.

As the members of IPSA debate the implications of the global revolution, Lachapelle and Paquin are leading their own revolution within the association.

Since Lachapelle took over as secretary-general in 2001, he has tried to attract more researchers to IPSA and to increase its visibility on the international political scene. IPSA is currently reviewing the requests of the political science associations of Portugal and Kazakhstan to join.

In addition to the International Political Science Review and the International Political Science Abstracts, IPSA now publishes a revamped periodical called Participation, which profiles national associations and newsworthy political trends.

IPSA has traditionally attracted specialists in international relations and comparative politics because of its wide scope and membership. Recently, however, IPSA acted as a political consultant at the Francophonie summit last month and to the World Bank.

IPSA was founded in 1949 by UNESCO to promote the study of social sciences.

Visit IPSA's web site at http://www.ipsa.ca.