Global Issues Library | Alexander Street

Global Issues Library

Global Issues Library reflects the key issues affecting our world today, including border issues, migrations, atrocities and human rights violations, security, revolution and protest, incarceration, disasters, and environmental issues. Through historical and contemporary events found in this database, students and scholars can learn about and contextualize the issues that have transformed the human experience globally. 

Global Issues Library will include around 180 thematical clusters of issues, topics, and events from the late 1780s to present that are key to understanding today’s world:  immigration, genocide, peacekeeping, climate change, water issues, key engineering failures, terrorism, human trafficking, and incarceration. Specific events explored include the U.S. and Mexico Border, the Rwandan Genocide, the Arab Spring, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and climate migrants in Asia Pacific.   

Issues and events are presented through a variety of perspectives—personal, governmental, legal, contemporary and retrospective—that demonstrate the interactions and interconnectedness of global issues and allow students and scholars to consider their world in new ways, such as: 

  • How atrocities and war happen and the aftermath of these crises across borders. 
  • How environmental issues and security issues affect displacement.
  • How institutions respond and have responded to global crisis.

Content Examples  

  • Access unique personal and official documents retracing the life of a family who lived in France during the German occupation, starting as they left Ukraine for France. Follow the history of the family after their deportation to Auschwitz, including official and personal documents.
  • Meet African migrants who survived a boat wreck as they tried to emigrate to Europe in the documentary film, African Exodus. 
  • Explore the horrors of the Cambodian genocide that took place from 1975 to 1979 under the Khmer Rouge in Alexander Laban Hinton’s book, Why Did They Kill?, to understand why mass murder happens and what motivates perpetrators to kill. 
  • Get the first-hand account of Souleymane Guengueng, the Chadian torture victim who spent three years in prison, and who helped bring to justice the former dictator Hissène Habré
  • Understand the controversy surrounding the Three Gorges Dam, a massive feat of engineering that took a step toward clean energy, but that displaced millions of people and caused significant ecological changes to the surrounding area, through documentaries, contemporary texts, and records of the dam’s construction.

Use Case

Teaching Power  

Covers all document types and media: Includes primary sources, books, oral histories, scholarly essays, conference proceedings, letters, diaries, images, plays, posters, documentaries, contextual monographs links to websites, and other archival documents.

Opportunities for comparative study: Content is organized around thematic units, such as the Cambodian genocide, the Burma-Myanmar Conflict, the Iranian Revolution, the European Union and its borders. This structure allows students to compare issues geographically, historically, or from other viewpoints.

Interdisciplinary: Aligned with how these topics are taught today, the Global Issues Library combines historical, political, international, sociological, anthropological, artistic, and human rights perspectives. It supports research and teaching in international studies, history, political science, sociology, security studies, peace studies, law, public policy, and anthropology. 

Advisory Board

Holly Ackerman, Librarian for Latin American, Iberian and Latino Studies, Duke University

Laetitia Atlani-Duault, Fellow at the French National Development Research Institute, Professor at IRD - CEPED (Sorbonne Paris Cité University, Paris V René Descartes), Director of the Collège d’Études Mondiales (CEM) at the Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme (FMSH)

Vanessa Barker, Docent and Associate Professor of Sociology, Stockholm University

Olivier Bercault, lawyer and researcher for Human Rights Watch

Mary Bosworth, Professor of Criminology, Fellow of St Cross College, University of Oxford; Professor of Criminology, Monash University, Australia; and Director of the Border Criminologies Network

Orville Vernon Burton, Distinguished Professor of History, Sociology, and Computer Science, Clemson University; and Director of the Clemson CyberInstitute

Phillip A. Cantrell, Associate Professor of Asian History, African History, World History, Longwood University

Yuk Wah Chan, Associate Professor, City University of Hong Kong

Melissa Checker, Hagedorn Professor of Urban Studies and Environmental Psychology, Queens College (CUNY)

Hastings Donnan, Director of the Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice and Co-Director of the Centre for International Borders Research, Queen’s University, Belfast

Baz Dreisinger, Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Hannah Elsisi, Lecturer in Modern Middle East History, King’s College London

Julie Murphy Erfani, Associate Professor, Arizona State University

Catherine Filloux, award-winning playwright, longtime social justice advocate

Pamela Graham, Director of the Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research, Columbia University, and Director of the Global Studies division of the Libraries

Amy S. Green, Chairperson & Associate Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Anna Gunderson, Professor of Political Science, Louisiana State University

Henk van Houtum, Head of the Nijmegen Centre for Border Research, Associate Professor of Political Geography and Geopolitics, Radboud University Nijmegen

Pranoto Iskandar, Founding Director, The Institute for Migrant Rights, Indonesia

Cathia Jenainati, Head of the School for Cross-Faculty Studies, University of Warwick

Lada Kochtcheeva, Associate Professor, Global Environmental Policy and Law, North Carolina State University

Richard Matthew, Associate Dean of Research and International Programs and Professor of Urban Planning, Public Policy and Political Science, University of California, Irvine

Molly Molloy, Research Librarian, Border and Latin American specialist, New Mexico State University Library

Vivian D. Nixon, Executive Director, College & Community Fellowship

James Oleson, Associate Professor, University of Auckland 

David Scheffer, Director, Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern University, former US ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues

Scott Schimmel, Assistant Professor of Communications, Environmental Science, University of Hawai’i

Andrew Taylor, Research Scientist, Research Analyst at Vera Institute of Justice

Ruti Teitel, Professor of Comparative Law, Chair, Global Law and Justice Colloquium, Co-Director, Institute for Global Law, Justice & Policy, New York Law School 

Unique and Exclusive Content Partners 

Includes archival materials that can only be found in Global Issues Library, such as collections from the National Archives in Kew, University of London, the Clinton Library, and others. 


Global Issues Library includes the full contents of the following collections: