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Integrating Globalization into the Curriculum: Two Examples1

Christopher Corley, Minnesota State University
Jay Walsh, North Kingstown (RI) Senior High School


Introduction: Globalization and the Social Studies Curriculum

    Should analyses and discussion of globalization be left to journalists and social scientists?  At the broadest level, we might define globalization as "the acceleration of interregional contacts in speed, in increased volume and in widening range."2  Globalization has become one of the catch-words of our times. Richard J. Barnet and John Cavanagh have argued that "globalization is a popular term in both the academy and the press because it seems to capture the essential changes in the human condition that are taking place in our time."3  It is overwhelmingly an economic phenomenon, but it is also a political, religious, cultural, intellectual, and environmental one, and thus is open to a wide variety of analysis and study--including history. Despite its importance to understanding our own time, high school and university history teachers have been slow to integrate an analysis of globalization into their curricula and courses.  This article offers two examples of curriculum development and teaching strategies that we hope will prove useful for university historians and high school social studies teachers who are interested in integrating globalization into their courses. 1
    The slow integration of globalization into the history curriculum can be attributed first and foremost to the suspicious nature of historians. Globalization studies have been left largely to social and natural scientists, and for the most part they have gone about their work in an ahistorical manner. Undoubtedly influenced by the presentism that pervades modern society, many scholars of globalization perceive the phenomenon as "a radical disjuncture" with little historical precedent." "Historians," according to Patrick Manning, "have not been part of this sort of global studies movement largely because they decline to accept the ahistorical premise that underlies globalization."4 2
    Second, the study of globalization has not been embraced as serious scholarship by "national and regional specialists [who] leave global concerns to others," according to Antony G. Hopkins.5  Many such historians and social scientists, especially those whose research focuses on lesser developed countries and former colonies, are rightly skeptical of a phenomenon that seems to be coterminous with Americanization because of the dominance of American culture, politics, and capitalism.6 3
    Despite this resistance, it is possible--even imperative--to include globalization within both the social studies curriculum and the larger narratives of World, Western, and American history courses.  More than a decade ago, Theodore H. Von Laue stated that "the main purpose of world history is to help our students acquire a better grasp of the forces shaping our world both at present and in the foreseeable future….  Responsible world history, therefore, must begin with an effective grasp of the present in all its troubling aspects."7  Recent work by Antony G. Hopkins, Patrick Manning, and Peter Stearns have taken up Von Laue's challenge by providing excellent theoretical insights toward locating globalization within a general narrative of world history.8 These perspectives can and should be utilized by high school, community college, and university teachers who teach Western Civilization, World and American history surveys. If globalization is a phenomenon that is going to shape our students' lives, for better or worse, these scholars have shown that historians have an obligation to familiarize our students with the concept in a way that helps them to conceptualize their world. It is essential that students have the opportunity to analyze the concept of globalization. Students need to be prepared to face the challenges that their world brings to them, but it has been our experience that students lack the skills and disposition to look beyond their own experiences when examining global issues--if they examine them at all. 4
    We invited our students to think about the concept of globalization, including its history and its effects on their lives, in a way that made the students themselves active participants in the development of knowledge and understanding. True critical thinking and understanding needs to emerge from the students' own interests and experiences. At the same time, the students need to be invited to understand global issues from the perspective of others who inhabit the world with them. 5
    This article contributes to the emerging dialogue on the usefulness of integrating the phenomenon of globalization into history courses, and on the possibilities created when students actively define their interests in the classroom. It does so by offering two concrete examples of how the phenomenon of globalization might be integrated into the classroom. Our work is still preliminary, as these courses have only been attempted a few times. However, we hope that social studies and history instructors will agree that the first step towards incorporating globalization into the curriculum is to make some attempt to do so.  Indeed, while useful knowledge is certainly gained by both theoretical discussions and by authoritative, masterful tomes, teachers of world history know that it is also improved by pedagogical experiments in the classroom.


Part I -- The High School Senior Seminar, by Jay Walsh

    Challenging students to think globally is a task with which most History and Social Studies teachers grapple.  It was with this challenge in mind that I created a course designed to foster the students' abilities to critically analyze the concept of globalization. In the fall of 2003 I began teaching a Senior Seminar course entitled "Examining Globalization."  This course gives students the opportunity to explore issues through research and dialogue, to identify problems, to collaborate with peers to develop possible solutions, and to articulate the solutions in an attempt to affect a positive future for themselves, their community and the world.  I believe these skills are essential to the students' future successes in education, career, and lifelong learning.9  I found that when the themes of the classroom were developed from the students' own language and context, the students were more likely to be engaged with the material and were increasingly willing to critically analyze the material.  


I-A. Pedagogy

    Since my goal was to create an environment where students can actively learn about globalization and its effects, I felt it was critical that students develop an understanding of the ways their lives are interconnected with the lives of others in the world.10 To do this, I implemented the critical pedagogy outlined by Paulo Freire in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and by Ira Shor in Empowering Education.  Freire contends that the goal of education is humanization and liberation through critical consciousness.11  Critical consciousness, according to Freire, develops from a dialogic education where the themes of the course work are generated from the students' own languages and experiences.12  To achieve this critical consciousness, Ira Shor expanded on Freire's ideas and developed the "problem posing" method of education.13  Shor outlines six steps necessary for a "problem-posing" classroom that will ensure critical pedagogy.  The six steps consist of questioning the students, listening to their answers, identifying and representing their problems, introducing a broader critical perspective, studying alternative interpretations, and finding ways to act.  The final step is perhaps the most crucial--students must act upon their knowledge in order to transform themselves and society.  Paulo Freire refers to this as praxis, and argues that it is praxis that makes education complete. In his view, educators should strive to develop complete human beings who work to create a better world.14  8
    It was with this pedagogy in mind that I constructed the course.  I was determined that "Examining Globalization" would have the interests, desires, and experiences of the students at its core.  I endeavored (with varying levels of success) to ensure that the language and concerns of the students drove the curriculum, and that we engaged in a dialogue rather than in a teacher-centered education.


I-B. Beginning at the Beginning

    As I began to prepare the "Examining Globalization" course, I had a definite sense of uncertainty about the venture.  Almost half of the students in this course were students from a previous class, and I knew from that experience that they had a difficult time breaking away from the "just tell me what I need to know" mentality of learning.  Therefore, I knew that the tone for the semester needed to be set from the first moments of class.  If the students' voices were to be central to the class, I could not wait until after I introduced the syllabus, goals, expectations, materials, etc.  I knew that if I dropped the material on the students from the start that the initial tone of the class would be teacher-directed rather than student led. 10
    Our journey into exploring globalization began with a simple exercise that asked the students to examine their own ideals, beliefs, and experiences.  The students were handed a sheet with the following instructions:

            Take yourself back to the days before you were born.  Now, imagine that you are still inside of your mother's belly.  You have no idea what the world outside is like, you do not know what country you will be born into, if you will be male or female, rich or poor, or any of the other millions of things that could affect who you will turn out to be.  Can you imagine that?

            Thinking about the idea that you have no control over who, where, or what you may become, imagine the type of world in which you would like to be born.  Take some time to really think about what that world is like.  When you have imagined that world and have a good picture of it in your head please write about it in the space below. You may use the back of this sheet if you need more room.  Be as descriptive and complete as possible. 

This exercise prompted students to imagine the world as they wished it could be.15  Most students imagined a world that hardly resembled the world in which we live.  A few described the world exactly how it is today.  Regardless of what they wrote down, it began the process of connecting their own lives and experiences to others.  Students began to imagine how life would be if they were the "other" person.  Next, I asked students to compare the world that they imagined with the world in which they live (see appendix A).  After that, I asked students to write down the most pressing issues that faced the contemporary world.  They were to compile as thorough a list as possible and then rank them from the most to the least significant.  Finally, I grouped students into fours and asked them to compare their lists.  In doing so they needed to create one "top-ten" list for each group.  These four activities by themselves helped to set the mood for the rest of the class.  
    The rest of the semester was completely dependent on those opening activities. The students left class on the first day without a syllabus, materials, assignments, or the notion that I was going to "tell them everything that they needed to know."  I continued the "problem posing" method outlined by Ira Shor in the second class.  The "top-ten" lists from the first class period were posted around the room.  Before class even began, students circulated the classroom reading many of the lists comparing the issues that their peers identified. I had also prepared a list of  the "top tens" as a handout. When the second class period began, I grouped the students into fours (different groups this time) and asked them to categorize the issues they identified in the first class period.  After each group had finished categorizing all of the issues, I asked them to construct a title for the category.  There was a little confusion with this so I offered an example.  I pointed out that many of the issues revolved around wealth and poverty and suggested that those types of issues could be listed under "Economics" or "Haves and Have-Nots."  This was the first time that I openly indicated my thoughts about the course content.  Not surprisingly, all of the groups had a category titled either "Economics" or "Haves and Have-Nots."  The titles that the students developed also included Terrorism and Violence, Race, Equality, Environment, War, Gender, Power, Government, Hate, Health, and Culture.  These student-generated categories then became the themes for studying globalization in our course.  


I-C. Classroom Practices and Reflection: A Sample Unit on the Environment

    I also used Ira Shor's "problem posing" method at the beginning of each unit of study.  One example of this was our entry into "Globalization and the Environment." The first step of problem posing is questioning the students.  In this unit I questioned the students by using a "word splash".  I simply wrote the words "environmental issues" on the board and the students took turns writing whatever came to mind on the board.  The key to a word splash is that the students remain silent during the writing portion and reflect on what is being placed on the board.  13
    Listening to the students' answers was the second step in the problem posing method. When it became apparent that all of the students who wanted to write on the board had taken advantage of their opportunity, I initiated a dialogue on the topic.  Using the students' language from the board I posed a few questions that enabled us to determine what we knew, didn't know, or needed to learn about environmental issues.  As the students exchanged ideas I took notes and listened carefully to their responses and their attitudes toward the topic.  14
    The third step of the problem posing method is for the instructor to identify and represent the students' problems.  This was fairly easy to accomplish when we examined environmental issues, because the students had a wide range of experience and knowledge about environmental concerns.  From our previous experiences in class students understood the concept of the "race to the bottom" and the difficulties that local democracies have when they attempt to enforce regulations that are deemed "barriers to trade."  With those ideas in mind the students wanted to know how the environment could be protected while allowing undeveloped countries to become developed while still providing the resources demanded by developed nations. This became the "problem" for the unit.  15
     I combined the fourth and fifth steps (introducing a broader critical perspective and studying alternative interpretations) by asking students to explore policy arguments that supported a variety of solutions to environmental problems.  Students gathered a wide variety of sources, articles, speeches, and other primary sources and then critically analyzed those sources.  I incorporated reading materials, film and video, music, and data into the units in order to broaden the students' experiences and offer alternative interpretations.  For example, I used Ben Harper's song, "Excuse Me Mr.," which provides a look at environmental issues through the eyes of an artist most students are familiar with, thereby helping to make the connection between the content and their lives.16  Another source, the PBS documentary "Bill Moyers Reports: Trading Democracy," provides a focused examination of how NAFTA's Chapter 11 prevents local governments from protecting their environment from abusive multinational corporations.17 Finally, the Choices Program -- in collaboration with the Watson Institute's Center for Foreign Policy at Brown University -- has published a curriculum unit entitled "Global Environmental Problems: Implications for U.S. Policy," which is brimming with primary sources including Presidential speeches and statistical data that enable the students to examine environmental issues from multiple perspectives.18  Using critical reading strategies, the students deconstructed underlying assumptions held by the authors and then constructed their own understanding of how globalization affects the environment.  16
    Critical pedagogy is not complete until students are asked to act on their new understandings in order to transform themselves and their communities.  This sixth step to the problem posing methodology, finding ways to act, served as the usual method of assessment as the end of each unit.  In the environment unit, for example, students developed an environmental policy that they believed should be implemented and then forwarded their suggestions to the appropriate policy making institution.  Students developed methods for dealing with third world debt, and they wrote to their Congressional Delegation concerning the connection between American foreign policy and economic policy. 17
    The students' final projects were also aimed at initiating change. Originally the students decided to create a web site that informed other high school students about globalization and its causes and effects. After much discussion the students changed the method of publishing to a one issue newspaper that they would circulate in the community. They had worked hard to raise money to print their creation and then an unfortunate tragedy befell the senior class when one of their classmates was killed in a car accident. In the end, the students decided to contribute their funds to a scholarship in the student's name. 18
    Despite the events that prevented the publishing of the students' work, the connection between globalization and their lives was evident in the assignments designed to be a part of the newspaper. One student wrote passionately about her father's impending lay-off because his manufacturing position was being outsourced to Asia. Another student was equally passionate, but from a different perspective. He wrote about his father's anguish at having to lay off "hundreds" of workers because rising labor costs were making his corporation less competitive with foreign manufacturing. Other students wrote about ecological disasters, such as oil spills, that affect local fishing industries.  Three female students worked diligently to synthesize the impact that globalization has had on women around the globe. Their work never made it into the community, but the students did become intimately connected with globalization, and they are poised to act in the future.


I-D. Implications for Future Courses

    As successful as the semester was, there are lessons to be learned in order to improve the class for the future.  First, many students had a difficult time constructing their own meaning of the topic and instead relied on trying to give the answer they believed I wanted.  This problem was highlighted when, halfway through the semester, the students were assigned an essay that asked them to answer the question: "What does globalization mean to you?"  Even though we had already spent ten weeks studying the concept of globalization and constructing our own understandings of the topic, many students struggled with the assignment.  One student went so far as to copy her essay word for word from an online source.  This was a breakthrough moment for that student and the class.  Before I returned their essays I addressed some of my concerns with the class.  When I asked them why they did not fulfill the assignment by telling me what they thought about globalization they all responded with similar answers. "Globalization means something different to everyone." "It is too broad to define." "It is too complex to nail down." "Some people think it will save the world others think it will end it, how am I supposed to know what to think?"  The realization that students were trying to answer a question "correctly" rather than develop understandings of their own enabled us to solve that problem and move beyond it.      20
    The second problem I encountered was adequately preparing students for assigned readings before handing them out.  The context in which a piece was written, the background of the author, and the style of the author's prose were issues that I did not completely address in the beginning of the semester.  I thought that seniors in high school would be savvy enough to navigate these issues on their own, but most of them could not.  As the class progressed I made sure that I prepared students for the reading assignments by addressing these issues. 21
    Finally, the importance of dialogue needs to be explicitly addressed with students. Too often, the dialogue turned into debate.  Instead of the students collectively working toward understanding the issues at hand, they argued about whose position was correct.  Some students were shut out of the conversation by the most dominant ones, who adamantly voiced their positions.  It was necessary to take time in class to explicitly teach the students how to engage in dialogue. It took a few weeks to fully resolve this issue but after some gentle reminders by me and their peers, the shouters and debaters became proficient participants in dialogue.


I-E. The Challenge of Selecting Materials

    Implementing critical pedagogy, or the "problem-posing" method, leads to some unique challenges when selecting materials.  Because the school year begins with students generating the themes and each unit begins with the process of questioning the students, it is likely that any large cache of materials gathered by the instructor before the beginning of the course will undergo significant revisions.  Many sources will be excluded and many more will be added.  Part of the problem in selecting materials for a course like this lies in the immediacy of globalization.  New and significant treaties are constantly negotiated, the state of geopolitics is fluid, new research on environmental issues is released regularly, and cross-border cultural transmissions occur minute-by-minute.  All of these factors contribute to a growing availability of relevant information.  But a cooperative effort between the instructor and the students can lead to gathering sources that are useful and provide opportunities for the students to critically analyze the concept of globalization. 23
    Although I gathered some resources prior to the course, the students and I worked collectively to find resources that would help answer the questions developed at the beginning of each unit.  Students searched libraries, periodicals, and the Internet for information that would help them understand the topic that they were currently investigating.  Working in groups of three or four, students would then compare the documents they found, critically analyze the authors' arguments and positions, and then construct their own ideas concerning the topic.  Once that was completed, the class participated in a Socratic Seminar for the purpose of eliciting ideas, consensus, or conflicting ideas.  I then introduced a reading, film, or viewpoint intended to offer alternative interpretations of the topic.  24
    Because one of the goals of the course was to foster the ability to develop a critical understanding of globalization, I was less concerned about the quality of the original documents than I was about the students' abilities to deconstruct them.  There are a plethora of pro-globalization and anti-globalization resources on the Internet.  Deciding on their merits is part of the learning process for high school students.  Published texts and scholarly journals are also available for use.  The instructor should take the time to carefully review text selections and journal articles to ensure that they are not beyond the grasp of the students.  There are a few documentaries that I used in class that I would highly recommend. Life and Debt, a film by Stephanie Black, examines the impact of the WTO and the IMF on Jamaica and helps students put a face on those who are negatively impacted by "free trade."  This film is generally available in video rental outlets.  PBS aired Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy, a lengthy but informative look at the history of the global economy from the inception of the IMF, through the reforms of Reagan and Thatcher, to contemporary issues of globalization. One under-utilized resource that can help connect students to contemporary world issues is music.  Take the time, if you have it, to listen to the music that your students listen to.  There are a number of rock, punk, reggae, alternative, and hip-hop artists whose songs address many of the issues that the students struggle with in a course such as this.  I have found that some of the students who would otherwise remain disengaged become engaged when I dropped a song and some lyrics on them and ask them to analyze the themes that the artist is addressing and how those themes connect with our class.  25
    My experiences with teaching "Examining Globalization" are meant to serve as a model rather than a prescription. The context of each class, group(s) of students, community, and curriculum are different. It is my hope however, that some of these tools for encouraging student-centered learning and for learning about globalization will be helpful to a wide variety of teachers at many instructional levels.


Part II – The Freshmen World History Survey, by Christopher Corley

    At first glance, the college world history survey might not appear the appropriate place to consider the phenomenon of globalization. Globalization, by most accounts, is a recent development, and its full historical causes and consequences are far from being determined. Furthermore, many modern world history surveys that begin the global narrative in or around 1500 hardly have time to spare for World War II and the Holocaust, decolonization, and the Cold War, let alone the 1990s.  Professors who lead courses in western civilization and American history face similar issues once they reach the 1980s and 1990s.  Why add something else to the mix? How might we appropriately examine the topic while leaving sufficient time for our analyses of the other major events of the late twentieth century? 27
    These are only some of the questions university instructors face as they approach the modern world history survey.  Other important decisions include choosing appropriate readings, developing assignments and discussions, and weaving coherent themes through a challenging array of topics, places, peoples, ideas, and events. One possible theme might encourage the students to think about globalization as an historical phenomenon throughout the course of the semester, rather than mentioning it in the class before the final exam. One can also focus globalization as a major analytical theme in the course that students can also explore on their own. This portion of the article will describe my attempts to integrate globalization into the world history survey while encouraging students to actively develop their own intellectual interests.


II-A. Text and Themes:

    In order to weave these themes throughout the course, I have used Thomas Friedman's The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization in addition to a general survey and a reader.19  I try to combine an analysis of Friedman's approach to globalization with comparative discussions of other important periods of global interaction, notably the sixteenth-century encounters and late nineteenth-century New Imperialism. During the course of the semester, students individually research and write an essay comparing and contrasting some aspect of Friedman's analysis of globalization with another perspective from a different part of the globe. 29
    Friedman's text, although criticized on many different levels, is a useful and accessible introduction to globalization for college freshmen.20  Friedman, the Foreign Affairs columnist for The New York Times, earns his living by making complex international phenomena understandable for the average reader. He does this through succinct, interesting prose punctuated by stories, metaphors, and analogies that most college-level students can understand and appreciate. The most vociferous criticisms of Friedman's work have emerged from the left, many of whom argue that his rendition of globalization is merely a celebration of neoclassical liberal ideologies.21 Specialists have criticized his metaphors and analogies as simplistic explanations "not likely to satisfy those seeking scholarly rigor."22 Despite these and other important criticisms that I will develop later in the essay, I continue to use his text for two important pedagogical reasons that are established within the first week of my class.23 30
    First, Friedman's introductory chapter, "The World Is Ten Years Old," encourages readers to consider the impact of world events in their local communities and in their personal lives. Most traditional undergraduate students now enrolled in our community colleges and universities remember neither the fall of the Berlin Wall nor the dismantling of the Soviet Union. Their first political memories relate in one way or another to the Clinton Presidency, and their adolescence will forever be marked by the events of September 11, 2001.  My emphasis in the first week of class on events that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s tends to surprise students who believed historians only thought about chronologically or geographically-distant events. In his fourth chapter, Friedman argues that globalization is a system that has important effects on the ways that economies, nation-states, and cultures operate. Moreover, he believes that this system can be broadly compared to other periods, such as the "Cold War System" that operated between 1946 and 1989. While some have argued that his comparisons are facile, I believe that they sufficiently open the door to further historical analysis and exploration in the classroom.  The instructor can encourage students to consider the deeper roots of these modern changes and to introduce the study of globalization as an historical phenomenon central to the study of world history. 31
    Second, Friedman encourages readers to become proficient interpreters of modern events by thinking "globally."  If there ever were an opportune time to encourage students to use the different disciplines (i.e. general education and liberal arts course requirements) to broaden their perspective on life and their world, this is it. In a chapter entitled "Information Arbitrage," Friedman stresses the virtues of incorporating "new lenses" with which to see the world in a semi-autobiographical account of his intellectual journey from college student to his present position at The New York Times. Friedman's education was based in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, but as his career (and the world) changed, he incorporated other facets of interpretive skills in politics, diplomacy, culture, finance, technology, and the environment--his "six D's", or dimensions--that he believes make him "a globalist."24  Since he suspiciously leaves out the virtues of History as an important interpretive dimension, this provides yet another discussion for the first week of class, another opportunity to explain the virtues of world history for establishing an important intellectual dimension in the students' lives. 32
    After discussing the first few chapters of The Lexus and the Olive Tree during the first week of class, I leave the students to their individual reading of the book while the class focuses on the general historical narrative.  After another class discussion of the book in the second month of class (and several shorter forays into the book), the students write a short review analyzing Friedman's main argument and evidence.25 During our class discussions on Friedman's text, many students gradually come to realize that his view of globalization has been deeply shaped by his personal experiences. Friedman's ability to interview political, economic, intellectual, and cultural elites from throughout the world--many of whom have benefited from globalization--undoubtedly slants his overall perspective and interpretation. This is no more clear than in Friedman's insistence that free markets create open, democratic societies. This perspective, which some might identify as "neoliberal," "triumphalist," and exceedingly "western," strikes many students as odd, especially considering the cohabitation of authoritarian governments with capitalism in many parts of the world at different points in history.26 The "natural" connection between globalization and democratization has recently been criticized by Marc Plattner and Amy Chua, both of whom recognize that unfettered globalization could indeed endanger rather than foster emerging democracies around the globe.27 I might add that this critique was much easier for my students to identify in the spring of 2002 than when I taught the course in the 2000-2001 academic year, before the terrorist attacks of September, 2001 and the American recession. These events certainly had something to do with the students' interpretation of Friedman's ideas and evidence. 33
    During the course, I encourage students to consider not only the modern phenomenon of globalization, but also the ways in which we might be able to trace the precursors and developments of it over the course of many centuries. Emphasized in these discussions are the role of intellectual and technological change in global contacts, the development of the nation-state and its role in stimulating economic change, and the transfer of power, ideas, and cultures across civilizations. Although the debate about historicizing globalization is in its infancy, one potential model has been offered by Antony Hopkins.28  These potential themes and chronological periods, outlined below, might become the windows to comparing and contrasting emerging global contacts throughout the early modern period and into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 34

Historicizing Globalization, As Proposed by Antony Hopkins

Type of Globalization



Archaic Globalization


Global contacts encouraged by elite search for wealth, or by religious travelers; cities, migrants, specialization of labor



Reconfiguration of state systems; growth of finance, services, and preindustrial manufacturing.

Modern Globalization


Rise of the nation-state; spread of industrialization

Postcolonial Globalization


New supraterritorial organizations; new forms of regional integration emerge


II-B. Active Learning Through Student Research Projects:

    In the late 1990s, there was a pronounced discussion on the virtues of the Internet and World Wide Web for the classroom.29  One of the most utilized terms was "interactive," as in "interactively" engaging the students, or having the students learn material in an "interactive" manner. This term implied utilizing the World Wide Web so that students could independently explore facets of the human experience outside of a textbook. Ideally, it also involved a learning process whereby students reached their own conclusions by responding to a series of problems in which their responses generated new avenues for exploration and learning. One might wonder how genuinely interactive this learning process is. Surely many of these exercises simply replicate classroom discussion, research, and testing exercises on an individual level. Indeed, many college survey textbooks are accompanied by compact discs that do little more than offer student study guides, self-tests, and suggestions for further reading or Websites in another format. 35
    It might be possible to use the Internet and the World Wide Web in another way. Humanities and Social Science scholars use discussion groups (Listservs) every day to ask questions of their colleagues, to debate new theories, and to review recent publications.30  Our students use chat rooms more for social reasons than for work-related issues, but they too are comfortable communicating with another person, or group of people, in an Internet-style environment. Many online courses use the chatroom environment to generate discussion, and some traditional "bricks and mortar" classes offer chat rooms as a way for students to discuss material in another format. Why not harness some of this energy and technology into focusing student dialogue with someone they have not met--preferably someone from a different country--on an important issue such as globalization? 36
    In order to foster the students' critical analysis of Friedman's themes, argument, and evidence, I encouraged the students to develop a research and writing project in which the students juxtaposed a particular theme or example found in Friedman's text with foreign perspectives.31 They found their foreign perspectives through a two-pronged research agenda. On the one hand, students were encouraged to explore some aspect of the history of the theme or example of globalization that interested them. On the other hand, they were invited to search for different opinions emanating from other parts of the world. Given the potential linguistic barriers to this type of research, but aware of the possibilities of the Internet and the World Wide Web, I offered them two potential avenues for research. First, they could search for foreign perspectives in American newspapers and magazines. They could also use the World Wide Web to access foreign media outlets in order to gain an understanding of non-American perspectives. Second, I also assembled a number of non-American people who had agreed to be interviewed via e-mail by my students about their perspectives on globalization.32 Although these volunteers were disproportionately natives of "western" countries, and although most of them were in their twenties and thus more open to new ideas and trends, I believed that their opinions about globalization would sufficiently differ from those of my students so that the students could see the world from someone else's perspective. None of the volunteers were experts in the topic of globalization, although a few were enrolled in graduate programs in economics and business administration. For me, this was exactly the point of the project: to allow non-expert but informed global citizens the opportunity to discuss important issues. 37
    I gave the students the list of volunteers, the countries in which they lived, and their e-mail addresses. Then the students chose their interview subject from the list. Because I usually had at least double and sometimes triple the students than I had volunteers, I grouped the students so that they could conduct their interviews together.  The students were provided with general guidelines for interviews, and were encouraged to first introduce themselves and then to become more familiar with their subjects' lives by asking them about their upbringing, education, travel experiences, and even political affiliation. The students generally continued their interviews by asking about their subjects' general opinions about globalization, and then they used this part of the discussion to engage specific issues of concern to them. I had also provided a "fact-sheet" to the volunteers that described the texts and assignment to the students. 38
    The topics that the students chose for their research were as varied as the students and the volunteers. The students' choices of topics were deeply influenced by the opinions and interests of their e-mail correspondents. Friedman's emphasis on the difficulties that emerge when free-market capitalism erodes traditional cultures, foods, and traditions captivated the students' attentions. An overwhelming amount of essays focused on the impact of American culture throughout the world, and most of the students who were assigned French interview subjects chose this as the topic of their research. Some of students researched the causes, effects, and foreign perspectives on "Americanization" in its most general sense, but the most successful and detailed papers narrowed their topic to a specific cultural theme such as music, film, food, language, sports, and politics. 39
    Other students were interested in a pressing issue relating to globalization and applied their questions and research regarding the theme directly to the country that they had been assigned. For example, many of the students who were business majors focused on the foreign reception of business practices and new technologies, especially Internet commerce. Crime, drugs, and the human slave trade developed into interesting topics, as did those that focused on the environment and the debate over the Kyoto Treaty. Others focused on globalization's effects on the poor generally, including labor issues and abuse of workers, while some students focused more specifically on the fates of "underdeveloped" countries. 40
    Many students developed papers on the changing nature of the nation-state and the role of international organizations. Considering the number of volunteers from Europe, many projects examined the history of the European Union and the recent development of the Euro. One student examined why Norway has hesitated to join the EU, while another attempted to gauge the benefits of Spain's inclusion in the EU. Another international issue that many students wanted to address was the history and effects of free trade agreements, including the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). 41
    The fact that many of the volunteers live in former Soviet-bloc countries encouraged my students to examine the changes that had occurred in Eastern Europe since 1989. Interesting essays were developed on the adaptation of the former-communist countries (including Romania, Russia, and Poland) to capitalism, democracy, and global integration. Interesting essays were also developed with the aid of subjects who were culturally less further afield. Students with volunteers from Anglophone countries, such as Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom created interesting projects that compared the history, development, and changes of the social welfare system established in these countries with that of the United States. Some of the best papers were written by shocked students who never knew that Canada had a national health insurance system.


II-C. Assessment of the Project

    I had formulated several goals for the globalization project. First, I wanted the students to connect the events of the recent global past with those far more distant. I introduced them to the analytical concept of globalization in the hope that they might better interpret the complex issues of global contact from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. I also wanted to hone the students' analytical and research skills. I hoped that the students could learn how to dissect and analyze a complex argument about globalization, and then develop the skills necessary to independently analyze the merits of Friedman's argument with evidence that they themselves had culled and organized. The students were introduced to traditional research in the form of journals and monographs, and they were encouraged to develop other sources for their research, especially through the e-mail interviews and the analysis of foreign media outlets available on the World Wide Web. Finally, I hoped that they could clearly and cogently present their argument about globalization in a six to eight page essay. 43
    While I believe that the project was an overall success, there were a number of problems that should be addressed. First, the students had less success integrating globalization as an analytical concept in the early modern period than they did in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. While many of them could readily make connections to events in the 1800s, few could point to events from the 1600s or 1700s as precursors or models for late twentieth-century globalization. An exercise that encouraged students to map or model global contact in a comparative way might have been beneficial. 44
    The other problems relate to the project itself. First, the volunteers who so readily influenced my students' perspectives on globalization formed a rather skewed slice of available perspectives. Most, if not all, of these volunteers were young, affluent, more attuned to technological changes, and generally more willing to accept change in their own societies than the overall population of the countries and cultures that they represented. The interviews also sidestepped significant questions, either because the students were not aware of the implications of their questions, or because they did not want to offend their subjects. The students' forays into other sources were often marred by an uncomplicated and uncritical use of the World Wide Web. Some students treated information and perspectives from the BBC News website in the same way that they would a private site created by a person who felt like publicizing his or her own feelings about globalization. It was also extremely difficult for a few students to recognize that gaining a foreign perspective was actually a worthwhile endeavor. 45
    The most egregious problem of the project relates to the students' resistance to ideas, trends, research, or other evidence that conflicted and thus complicated their own arguments. This resulted in over generalized and sometimes uncritical theses such as "New Zealanders have agreed with the new technology [sic] and globalization expressed by Thomas Friedman." The historian's appreciation for dissenting views, for minority voices, and for evidence that qualifies a thesis is evidently very difficult for university freshmen to understand. The best way to alleviate this, in my opinion, is for the instructor to provide examples that explicitly qualify interesting theories about historical events in their own lectures and discussions.



    In the preface to The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Friedman acknowledged the frustrations involved in writing a book about a phenomenon that is changing so rapidly. While publishing "an electronic book" that could be constantly revised was out of the question, Friedman confessed that his "more realistic hope is that when the day comes years from now when this book can no longer reside on the Current Affairs shelf in bookstores, it will find a comfortable home in the History section…."33 While we historians might not promise Mr. Friedman that his book will ever find a "comfortable home" among our publications, we can confidently tell him that the time has already come for our students to carefully consider his analysis as they study the historical phenomenon of globalization. 47
    If the discipline of history changes with each generation, then globalization is one of the most important challenges that this generation of historians and educators faces. Should secondary school and university instructors incorporate some aspect of globalization into their curriculum and courses? We believe that the answer to the question really depends on the instructor's and/or department's individual goals. If one teaches world history because one believes it allows students to better understand their historic positions as global citizens, then globalization should in some way be worked into the curriculum.  Indeed, it should also be integrated into Western Civilization and American surveys, where the topic is just as profoundly important and where analytical insights provided by the model of globalization are just as useful. Here, we have offered two examples of how globalization might be integrated into the high school social studies curriculum and into college history surveys. While these examples are hardly the only ways of accomplishing such a goal, we hope that they may prove useful, and at the very least that they might encourage further discussion for teaching about a phenomenon that is fast becoming one of the central concerns of our times.


Biographical Note: Christopher Corley has taught the world history survey course for five years. He received his Ph.D. from Purdue University and is an Assistant Professor of History and Affiliate Faculty of Women's Studies at Minnesota State University in Moorhead, Minnesota. He recently published "Family Life and Social Trends," in World Eras, Volume 9: Europe in the Industrial Era, 1750-1914, ed. James Farr (Farmington Hills: Gale Research Group, 2003), 247-282.

Jay Walsh has taught high school world history for three years, the past two at North Kingstown Senior High School in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. A graduate of Rhode Island College, he also is the Social Studies Co-Curriculum Coordinator for the North Kingstown School District.


Appendix A:

The world as it is  vs. the world as I imagined it to be

         Okay, you had the opportunity to think about what type of world you would want to live in if you had the choice at birth.  Now take some time to look around the world we live in, how do they compare?  Is the actual world the same or different from your imagined world?  Use the chart below to compare your imagined world with the actual world we live in.


Further Resources for Teaching

A. Suggested Works on Globalization:

Amaladoss, Michael, ed. Globalization and its Victims: As Seen by the Victims. Delhi: Vidyajyoti Education and Welfare Society, 1999.

Beste, Steven D., Going Global: Teaching How Nations Interconnect. Culver City, CA: Social Studies School Services, 2001.

Chomsky, Noam. Profit Over People. New York: Seven Stories Press, 1999.

Chua, Amy. World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability. New York: Bantam Dell Publishing Group, 2002.

Friedman, Thomas L. The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization. New York: Anchor Books, 2000.

Gates, Jeff. Democracy at Risk: Rescuing Main Street from Wall Street. Cambridge: Perseus Publishing, 2001.

Gunn, Geoffrey C. First Globalization: The Eurasian Exchange, 1500-1800. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003.

Foreman-Peck, James, ed. Historical Foundations of Globalization. Northhampton, Mass: Edward Elgar, 1998.

Hertz, Noreena. The Silent Takeover: Global Capitalism and the Death of Democracy. New York: Free Press, 2001.

Hopkins, A. G., ed. Globalization in World History. New York: W.W. Norton, 2003.

Khor, Martin.  Rethinking Globalization: Critical Issues and Policy Choices. New York: Zed Books, 2001.

O'Rourke, Kevin, and Jeffrey G. Williamson. Globalization and History: The Evolution of a Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Economy. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999.

Sen, Amatya. Development as Freedom. New York: Anchor Books, 1999.

Stiglitz, Joseph E. Globalization and its Discontents. New York: W.W. Norton, 2002.

B. Suggested Works on Pedagogy and Method:

Bigelow, Bill and Bob Peterson. Rethinking Globalization: Teaching For Justice in an Unjust World. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools Press, 2002.

Dewey, John.  Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education.  New York: The Free Press, 1944.

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Trans. Myra Bergman Ramos. New York: Continuum, 2003.

Gillespie, Susan W., ed. Perspectives on Teaching Innovations: World and Global History. Washington, DC: American Historical Association, 1999.

Harf, James E., and Mark Owen Lombardi, eds. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Global Issues. Guilford, CT: McGraw-Hill/Dushkin, 2001.

Manning, Patrick. Navigating World History: Historians Create a Global Past. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

Mazlish, Bruce, and Ralph Buultjens, eds. Conceptualizing Global History. Boulder, Co: Westview Press, 1993.

Shor, Ira. Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

Stearns, Peter N. "Treating Globalization in History Surveys." The History Teacher 36 (2003): 153-160.

Trinkle, Dennis A., ed. Writing, Teaching, and Researching History in the Electronic Age: Historians and Computers. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1998.

Trinkle, Dennis A., and Scott A. Merriman, eds. Essays on Teaching with Technology.  Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2001.


C. Suggested Websites on Globalization:

International Forum on Globalization (IFG)

Globalization - Global Policy Forum

Globalization: Threat or Opportunity? An IMF Issues Brief


Documents Relating to the Process of Globalization


Globalization | A Special Segment on Globalization | A Project of The American Prospect

The Cato Institute: Globalization


World Bank Research - Globalization

Do the Seattle Protestors Have a Point?

Global Economy 10

Globalization in Focus

Global Trade Watch



1 This essay emerges from fruitful conversations with students and colleagues over the past few years. Jay Walsh would like to acknowledge his colleagues who were patient enough to continually entertain his thoughts and provide feedback.  He would also like to acknowledge his students who enabled him to grow and develop as a human being and an educator.  Chris Corley would like to especially acknowledge Dr. Douglas Karsner of Bloomsburg University and the panelists and audience for the panel "Accentuating the Positive, Eliminating the Negative: Utilizing Technology to Enhance the Learning Experience and to Reduce Geographic and Cultural Barriers." The panel was sponsored by the World History Association at the 2002 Meeting of the American Historical Association in San Francisco.  An earlier version of Corley's essay was presented to the Minnesota State University Moorhead Global Studies Colloquium Series on February 26, 2003.

2 This is the definition proposed by Peter Stearns. See his "Treating Globalization in History Surveys," The History Teacher 36 (2003): 154. Joseph Stiglitz defined globalization in purely economic terms as "the removal of barriers to free trade and the closer integration of national economies." A bit later in the text, he expanded it as "the closer integration of the countries and peoples of the world which has been brought about by the enormous reduction of costs of transportation and communication, and the breaking down of artificial barriers to the flows of goods, services, capital, knowledge, and (to a lesser extent) people across borders." Stiglitz, Globalization and its Discontents (New York: W.W. Norton, 2002), ix, 9.  The study of globalization might overlap with those that examine conflicts between different civilizations, but it is surely not analagous to them. Two of the most well-known works of this genre include, Benjamin R. Barber, Jihad vs. McWorld: Terrorism's Challenge to Democracy (New York: Ballantine Books, 2001); Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Touchstone Books/Simon and Schuster, 1997).

3 Richard J. Barnet and John Cavanagh, "A Globalizing Economy: Some Implications and Consequences," in Conceptualizing Global History, eds. Bruce Mazlish and Ralph Buultjens (Boulder: Westview Press, 1993), 153.

4 Patrick Manning, Navigating World History: Historians Create a Global Past (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 167, 169. Manning cites several new centers for the study of globalization, only one of which includes an historian.

5 Antony G. Hopkins, ed., Globalization in World History (New York: W.W. Norton, 2002), 2.

6 Manning, Navigating World History, 165.

7 Theodore H. Von Laue, "A Declaration of Interdependence: World History for the Twenty-First Century," in Susan W. Gillespie, ed., Perspectives on Teaching Innovations: World and Global History (Washington, D.C.: American Historical Association, 1999), 30.

8 A. G. Hopkins, ed., Globalization in World History; Patrick Manning, Navigating World History, esp. 163-180; Peter Stearns, "Treating Globalization in History Surveys," The History Teacher 36 (2003): 153-160.

9 I have been inspired in this belief by the critical pedagogy of Paulo Freire and Ira Shore. See Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, trans. Myra Bergman Ramos  (New York: Continuum, 2003); Ira Shor, Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change  (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992).

10 John Dewey,  Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education  (New York: The Free Press, 1944), 34-35.

11 Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 74-75.

12 Friere, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 96-97.

13 Ira Shor, Empowering Education.

14 Friere, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 87.

15 This intellectual exercise is called the "veil of ignorance." John Rawls first developed the idea of a "veil of ignorance," in order to establish a philosophical framework from which societies might arrive at just decisions about public policy, in his Theory of Justice (Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press, 1971). He later revised his explanation of the theory in Justice as Fairness: A Restatement (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2001).

16 Ben Harper and JP Plunier, "Excuse Me Mr.," in Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals: Live from Mars (New York: Virgin Records, 2001). Lyrics available online: <>

17 "Bill Moyers Reports: Trading Democracy," February 5, 2002. Transcripts may be found online: <>

18 Global Environmental Problems: Implications for U.S. Policy, 10th ed., (Providence: Brown University, 2003). Available online: <>

19 Thomas Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization (New York: Anchor Books, 2000). The work was first published in 1997 and underwent minor revisions for its second edition. The general survey that I currently use is Upshur, Terry, Holoka, Goff, and Cassar, World History Volume II. Since 1500: The Age of Global Integration, 4th ed. (Belmont, Cal: Wadsworth-Thomson Learning, 2002). The reader that I currently use is Alfred Andrea and James Overfield, The Human Record. Sources of Global History: Volume II, Since 1500, 4th ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001).

20 A good introduction to Friedman's thought, and criticisms of it, can be found in Thomas Friedman and Ignatio Ramonet, "Dueling Globalizations: A Debate Between Thomas L. Friedman and Ignacio Ramonet," Foreign Policy (Fall 1999): 110-127; Thomas Frank, Review of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, by Thomas Friedman, Harper's Magazine, October 1999; Josef Joffe, "One Dollar, One Vote," review of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, by Thomas Friedman, New York Times, 25 April 1999; Paul Krugman, "Understanding Globalization," review of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, by Thomas Friedman, The Washington Monthly, 31:6 (June 1999): 45.

21 See, for example, Mark Rupert, Ideologies of Globalization: Contending Visions for a New World Order (New York: Routledge, 2000). Rupert dislikes Friedman's argument so much that he has created his own "Anti-Friedman" website: <

22 Marc F. Plattner, "Exploring Globalization," Journal of Democracy 10 (1999): 166.

23 For a list of potential study questions, see my course web site <> and study guide <>

24 Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, 23.

25 See my guide to writing a book review <>

26 Hopkins, "The History of Globalization--and the Globalization of History," in Hopkins, ed., Globalization in World History, 43.

27 Amy Chua, World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability. (New York: Bantam Dell Publishing Group, 2002); Marc F. Plattner, "Globalization and Self-Government," Journal of Democracy 13 (2002): 54-67.

28 Hopkins, "Globalization--An Agenda for Historians," in Hopkins, ed., Globalization in World History, 4-11.

29 See, for example, Dennis A. Trinkle, ed., Writing, Teaching, and Researching History in the Electronic Age: Historians and Computers (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1998); and Dennis A. Trinkle and Scott A. Merriman, eds., Essays on Teaching with Technology (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2001).

30 See, for example, the discussion lists hosted by H-Net <>

31 My student guide to globalization assignment can be seen at <>

32 My volunteers totaled thirty-two in the fall of 2000 and thirty-eight in the spring of 2002. I am in a rather envious position for assembling volunteers, since I seek them out each summer at a camp in New Hampshire where they work. My partner is an employee of the camp. But I believe that this exercise could be carried out in almost any college or university if the professor is willing to make connections with their local international student office on campus.  In the spring semester of 2001 I did not utilize the volunteers; during this semester the students relied on foreign media outlets for much of their research. The volunteers were natives of Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, India, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

33 Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, x.


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