Message from the Director

Monday, August 24, 2020 - 8:15am

Letter from the director:

As I write to you, three pandemics are raging across our country and around the world. I use that word – rage – advisedly. It captures much of the mood of our moment: the COVID-19 pandemic’s spread is facilitated in part by rage against transnational processes that have transformed the way we live, driving obscene inequality and growing insecurity for many people. This rage has been perversely misdirected toward science, toward public institutions, and toward the most vulnerable members of our communities, with tragic effects for the health of people and planet alike. At the same time, righteous rage against the pandemic of callous, pervasive, and persistent racism and indifference to the value and dignity of Black lives has propelled a diverse coalition of citizens into the streets to challenge the legacies of slavery, colonialism, and domination that have profoundly shaped -- and continue to shape -- our societies. All of this takes place amid what must be described as a pandemic of rage and resentment evident in resurgent ethnonationalism and turbo-charged by the democracy-destroying algorithms of social media.

The Global Studies Center remains committed to the hard work of understanding these trends and the processes that drive them and to highlighting the productive possibilities and alternatives that can give us hope in difficult times.

I’m proud of the work we’ve done this summer to address these challenging issues. In partnership with the Pittsburgh Human Rights City Alliance, we hosted a series of webinars, Learning from Covid-19, that explored the local and global impacts of the pandemic on housing, health and healthcare, public budgets, and more, with explicit attention to race and racism. With the Pitt Global Hub, we hosted a series of conversations on Racialized Police Violence in Global Perspective, providing an opportunity for members of the University community to learn more about the global dimensions of what many people wrongly imagine is a distinctively American problem. We are thrilled to offer an expanded version of this series as a one-credit course, in partnership with the Department of Africana Studies, this fall. We also hosted an interdisciplinary workshop for global educators to equip teachers at all levels with the skills they need to teach global connections to their students and to disrupt familiar and problematic narratives that perpetuate ignorance and misunderstanding.

We know that this fall is going to be a difficult time for everyone. Simply managing our daily lives amid a constantly shifting set of public health directives and University operational postures is difficult enough, and for many of us that uncertainty is exacerbated by care obligations, personal health concerns, capricious and cruel government policies and policing, and economic uncertainty for ourselves and those we love. For many of our students and colleagues, all of this is refracted and amplified through the prism of racism in our University, our neighborhoods, our public institutions, and our politics – racism that is sure to become more overt and more vitriolic as the political campaign season kicks into gear. Many of us legitimately worry about the upcoming election and about whether we will wake up on November 4th in a democracy or a dictatorship. Most prosaically, though certainly not trivially, many of us are worn down by the slow-building stress, anxiety, and alienation that comes from relentless months of working in and looking at rectangles within the rectangles of our screens.

With all of this in mind, we’ve created a fall program that emphasizes relaxed opportunities for learning and spaces for community. In the meantime, we’re developing new programs, credentials, and modalities for engagement that we hope will propel the Center forward with renewed vigor and vitality. Through all of this, our mission remains unchanged: to serve you by helping to connect the dots and to promote global thinking and learning across our campus and our city. We look forward to reconnecting with you, to hearing your suggestions and concerns, and to carrying on the important work that unites us.


In solidarity,



The Covid-19 outbreak and related containment measures have taken their toll on GSC's programming for the remainder of the semester. While we have had to cancel many events, others have been postponed or will take place in an online format. More information is available across our website, or you can contact us individually or at


This crisis illustrates powerfully why the kind of global thinking the GSC promotes is so essential in our times. It's simply impossible to understand this pandemic, the responses to it, and its likely implications through national or regional imaginaries. The movement of people is newly constrained both within and across borders, and social and economic systems are teetering as a result. The devastating effects of these unfolding events on marginalized, minoritized, and impoverished people manifest within a broader context: the globalization of supply chains, the casualization of employment, the ongoing transfer of wealth from the poor and the public to the wealthy, the resulting surge in economic inequality and related rise in precarity for those left behind, and the ethno-nationalist rhetoric and ideologies through which anger over these trends is increasingly channeled all cry out for study through a global analytic frame.


@PittGSC remains committed to studying these transnational phenomena in ways that illuminate our current condition and clarify alternatives and possibilities for the future.



Dr. Michael Goodhart