Book Launch for Professor Jason Ralph's 'On Global Learning'

Join Professor Jason Ralph as he introduces his new book to students and colleagues!

The Centre for Democratic Politics and the Centre for Global Security Challenges are delighted to host the launch of Professor Ralph’s new book On Global Learning: Pragmatic Constructivism, International Practice and the Challenge of Global Governance on 20th March 2024. The book is part of the prestigious Cambridge Studies in International Relations Series which is published by the British International Studies Association and Cambridge University Press.

Book cover of, "On Global Learning: Pragmatic Constructivism, International Practices and the Challenge of Global Governance"

Book cover of, "On Global Learning: Pragmatic Constructivism, International Practices and the Challenge of Global Governance"

This book addresses the difficulties posed by society’s ability to cope with change (global security, climate and health challenges) and argues that International Relations theory can help to meet these challenges. By bringing in Pragmatism from the margins, this book argues that International Relations practitioners can engage with these challenges and counter the populist and authoritarian challenges to global governance.

Abstract: Global security, climate and health challenges have created deep-seated unease about society’s capacity to cope with change. International Relations (IR) should be able to help practitioners respond.  This book demonstrates how, as a social theory developed in response to the processural ontologies and anti-foundational epistemologies of evolutionary theory, Pragmatism can help IR do that.  Bringing Pragmatism in from the margins, the book comprehensively engages norm, practice, realist and global IR theory to extend constructivism in a new normative direction. It draws on the ethical and democratic content in the work of classical Pragmatists, especially Jane Addams and John Dewey.  In so doing, it advances Critical theory, relating Pragmatist thought to the Frankfurt School, Feminism and the Race Theory of W.E.B DuBois. Part I develops a grounded and engaged normative approach that recommits society to democratic values as methods of individual and social learning.  Part II operationalises this approach by creating a ‘Pragmatic Constructivist’ test of global governance. This assesses the extent to which communities of practice are characterized by ‘inclusive reflexivity’ and ‘deliberative practical judgment’.  Society can have ‘faith’ in communities that meet these tests because their adapting practices have justified claims to epistemic authority.  This is a timely and important point in the context of the populist and authoritarian challenges to global governance. These two tests are applied to asses actual practice in the UN Security Council, the UNFCCC and the WHO. The concluding chapter addresses post-colonial concerns that Pragmatism is ‘of the West’.  A contrapuntal analysis identifies harmonies with non-Western, especially Confucian, IR, expanding the book’s reach.

The book launch is free to attend and will be held on Wednesday 20th March at 15:00–16:30 in the Clarendon Building, SR 2.01. This will be followed by a drinks reception.