How the study of politics gives hope in times of uncertainty

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama

A political landscape is a place of volatility and unpredictability, prone to shocks and spills, and marred by scandals galore.

It’s almost been a year since Trump’s inauguration, and the world still reels from the shock of his election. China continues to flex its looming muscles, taunted by a free world leader who pundits still deem a diplomatic novice, prompting experts to predict the nation’s rise to becoming a global force to be reckoned with by 2050. Meanwhile, the Eurozone stands at breaking point, plagued by the shadow of Brexit and baffled in the wake of a decision seemingly void of any ‘strong and stable’ plan.

A recent report from investment banking heavyweight Goldman Sachs revealed that rising political instability and dissatisfaction from within the EU itself is partially correlated to economic stress and globalisation.

“The simple answer is globalization and technology,” explains David Brady, renowned Professor of Political Science.

“Specifically,” he adds, “our research has shown that political instability has corresponded with a decline in the share of industrial or manufacturing employment.

“The sharp loss in manufacturing jobs over the last several decades due to technological advances and offshoring substantially cut the number of industrial workers, who had dominated the political landscape for most of the 20th century.”

In a bureaucratic climate wrought with change and uncertainty, it’s the socialist, almost ‘anti-politics’ parties that stir the population. The most recent UK general election, for example, drew a colossal 60 percent favour for Corbyn’s Labour party among 18-24 year olds, signalling a 25-year high in terms of youth and BME turnout – a landmark result now dubbed the ‘youthquake’ of modern politics.

But this mood is certainly not exclusive to the UK; resistance to rising globalisation and the free-flow of immigrants has shifted votes towards the likes of FN, or the ‘People’s Party’, in Denmark, while parties like Syriza in Greece or Podemos in Spain continue to draw support from anti-austerity platforms.

These turbulent times can seem somewhat overwhelming, but it’s nothing global politics hasn’t seen before. In June 1972, the world was swept up in the storm of the Watergate Scandal, arguably the most dramatic cover-up in political history. This was an event that ultimately led to America’s first Presidential resignation, and changed the face of politics forever…

But this governmental tempest sparked a shift in global attitude, triggered by the BBC’s decision to produce a TV series that would comment on the tensions of this iconic era. Respected Political Economist, J.K. Galbraith, would front the acclaimed production and subsequent book, both of which were titled The Age of Uncertainty, and sought to examine the insidious issues embedded deep within contemporary politics.

What this shows us is that history has a habit of repeating itself.

Nixon’s decision to fleece the American people instigated change that was desperately needed, and as we continue to choke on the stream of Trump’s seemingly endless schemes and faux pas, you can’t help but draw certain parallels and feel the humidity of change within the air.

As author Deepak Chopra once said: “All great changes are preceded by chaos.”

We, as people and civilians, are far stronger together than the bureaucrats at the top. As seen in the UK election and across the world, young people – the demographic most commonly underestimated and overlooked – are stepping up to take charge of their future and fight for change. Those who dedicate their minds to the study of politics will drive the revolution, refining influential policies that will transform global government.

World-leading institutions like the University of York – whose Department of Politics ranks within the UK Top 10 (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018) – stand at the frontier of this ground-shaking transition.

“We are home to a prestigious, lively and international community of students and academics at the forefront of research in the main political areas of conflict and development, international politics, political theory and public policy,” says Professor Martin Smith, Head of the Department.

“Our staff advise governments and international organisations on a wide range of issues, and regularly contribute to the news media and current affairs programmes throughout the world,” adds the Professor.

“Now is an exciting time to be studying Politics, and our degree courses at the University of York place you at the heart of current political thinking, research and debate.”

So why wait any longer? It’s time for us to be the change that we seek. You could be the one the world is waiting for.

This article is sponsored by the Department of Politics at the University of York, an elite, Russell Group institution committed to excellence in the pursuit of Political teaching and research. From International Politics to International Relations; Social and Political Sciences to Philosophy, Politics and Economics; this Top 10 UK political specialist prepares students for success in a competitive graduate world.

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