Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Database: Global Issues in Context

More and more databases are taking a specific (yet often very ambitious) approach to research these days. One that Sawyer Library has recently acquired through the BRLS regional contract is Global Issues in Context (GIC). This high-concept resource gives students country and regional information. But it goes beyond simple facts and figures. It tries to explore major issues--be they social, political, medical or environmental--and present them as challenges faced by nations around the world. Gale/Cengage sums up the product this way: "Global Issues in Context empowers users with the tools they need to understand today’s world issues from a global perspective."

It's a lofty goal. And makes for an interesting database to explore. Content includes 400 full-text English-language news sources, magazines and academic journals, such as The London Times, New African, Al Jazeera, Moscow Times and the BBC; more than 250 issue pages with topic overviews and global perspectives, reference and primary source documents, statistics, periodicals, web sites, and multimedia; and 193 country pods that feature in-depth cultural information, statistics, maps, flags, and encyclopedia articles.

There are various browse features from the product home page. And there are indications of new content recently added. If you know an issue and country you want to explore, you can certainly just use the Basic Search box in the upper right. For example, when I did a search for AIDS and South Africa, I got relevant editorials from the New York Times, news articles from AIDS Weekly, and to the right was offered appropriate video news stories from PBS's News Hour with Jim Lehrer. In the left frame, I was offered a variety of document types, so I could choose to look specifically at a "Topic Overview" or a "Country Overview" if I liked. In short, many material options are offered. And the overview articles--like "South Africa's Struggle with AIDS" from History Behind the Headlines: The Origins of Conflicts Worldwide--often come from reference books published by Gale and their publishing partners.

If you want to start simply, click on the "Browse Issues and Topics" tab on the opening screen. Then you can either click through the eight issue categories, or choose the other tab on that page to "Browse Regions." If I choose this option, click on Europe, then Southern Europe, I can then either pick a country (like Greece) or a topic (like "Cyprus Conflict" or "European Union Expansion") to delve into.

Interestingly, Gale/Cengage says that this database serves "a wide variety of subject areas, including sociology, current events, civics, politics, science, economics, cultural/religious studies, women’s studies [and] human rights." I would say that, here at Suffolk, this database would be of special interest to government/international relations students. But it might be even more useful for SBS students in their globalization course who are trying to understand the social dynamics of potential business markets.

Although neither exhaustive nor especially "scholarly," GIC definitely provides a useful grounding in the issues we face in our increasingly complex and interconnected world.

For further information, here is a quick PDF from Gale, and a link to a stored webinar.

[FIND Global Issues in Context on our "Databases by Subject" Lists for "Business and Management" and for the "Social Sciences".]

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