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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Benjamin Richard Gardner
BISGST 303
Bothell Campus

History and Globalization

The phenomenon of globalization has attracted the attention of many academic disciplines which often attribute novelty to trends that have in fact been around for centuries. Provides a historical perspective on current debates about globalization. Approaches may vary with instructor.

Class description

"History and Globalization" (Autumn 2013): This core global studies course looks at globalization as a set of historical and geographical relationships. We will investigate the debates about globalization to understand the origins of the global political economy, the processes, institutions, and ideological prisms through which it works, and how these forces intersect with existing geographic differences and inequalities. We will explore the question: How does our understanding of the global economic interconnectedness shape our ideas about society, governance and politics?

By looking at continuities from the colonial period to the present, we will ask how selective global linkages have produced different effects throughout the world. We will explore the connections that bind political economic processes and cultural forces; how identities and inequalities have been forged together through ongoing struggles over the environment, citizenship, economic production, trade, humanitarianism, and development. Throughout the course we will question our assumptions about history and globalization, and in the process challenge many of the common characterizations of politics and development in the world today.

Topics include: History of global inequality; representation of the Global South; migration; free trade/fair trade and coffee; gender and globalization, and anti-globalization social movements.

Student learning goals

1) Articulate a working definition of globalization which reflects historical, cultural, political, economic, and gendered processes.

2) Understand the historical, economic, political, and gendered forces that cause, perpetuate, and sustain global inequalities.

3) Develop a concrete understanding of globalization which is attentive to the material and symbolic relationships that shape the uneven distribution of the costs and benefits of global capitalism.

4) Articulate how different understandings and representations of globalization lead to different analyses of the creation of poverty and wealth.

5) Understand some of the ways grassroots social movements have organized to register their opposition to globalization.

6) Learn and apply a variety of methods to ask and answer critical questions related to global studies issues and problems.

General method of instruction

The course will be a mix of lecture, active learning in-class, and discussion. We will use a variety of different types of texts including: social science, history, journalistic, economic, ethnographic, and films. Required texts: Williams, Glyn, Paula Meth, and Katie Willis. 2009. Geographies of Developing Areas: The Global South in a Changing World. NY: Routledge. And a course reader

Recommended preparation

There are many ways to approach the topic of globalization; this course will largely draw from the theoretical traditions of political economy and cultural studies. I do not expect you to be well versed in economic or cultural theory to take this course; indeed you will see that the language of political economy and cultural politics are quite different than that of contemporary economics. Nevertheless, we will use many terms and concepts that may seem difficult at first. While I will do my best to explain those concepts that are critical to the course material, as well as provide other tools you will need, ultimately it is your responsibility to do well. This means active and timely reading, regular participation in class, and seeking help when you need it. It is extremely difficult to do well in the class if you do not attend class on a regular basis and do all of the reading.

Class assignments and grading

Research Assignments: A short research and writing assignment that will ask you to analyze the changing meaning and value of a currency from Africa, Asia, Latin America or the Caribbean. A quarter long commodity chain research assignment. In groups, student's analyze a global commodity like, coffee, corn, chocolate, copper, oil, etc... Students conduct research using traditional primary and secondary source material, as well as creating an interactive map, using google maps, to visualize global relationships and dynamics.

Course contribution: Engaged and respectful participation in class and in group assignments. Online writing and responses to weekly readings and activities.

This is a writing and reading intensive course with a significant research component. You will have weekly reading responses and write-ups, a midterm and final exam, and a group research project and presentation based on a google map representation of a global commodity chain.

Written assignments will be graded on sound analysis, clear writing, and attention to detail. Part of your grade will be based on informed contributions to the class and your group research project and presentation.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Benjamin Richard Gardner
Date: 05/26/2013