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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Benjamin Richard Gardner
BCULST 589
Bothell Campus

Topics in Global Cultural Studies

Links a specific area of study, such as hip hop. YouTube, or garbage, to global cultural studies and the methodologies of visual, material, textual, or arts-based research. Offered: AWSpS.

Class description

"Globalization and Development" (Winter 2013): DESCRIPTION

What is the relationship between development and poverty? Why are countries rich in natural resources often so poor? Why are some conflicts described as political and others cultural? What are the consequences when people migrate to cities? What does it mean to live in a global world? What does it mean for producers of commodities like clothes, coffee or cars? What does it mean for consumers of those products?

This course addresses these and other questions about globalization, development and politics. This class explores the economic, political, ecological and cultural forces that shape states and societies across the globe. We will examine the particular legacies of colonialism in assessing whether and how postcolonial development has failed, and also come to terms with the post-1980 reforms- usually referred to as neoliberalism- in which the global economic and political system has been subject to structural adjustment and reform.

Globalization is often described as the worldwide intensification of social, political and economic relationships. Some claim that this increasingly interconnected world opens up opportunities for economic prosperity and democratic processes. Others claim that these interconnections economically dispossess and politically marginalize certain groups, societies and people at the expense of the already powerful and wealthy.

Based on common sense assumptions about what globalization is and what it means, people take positions alternatively advocating for the intensification of global processes, regulating them, or resisting them. Such framings of globalization posit it as a set of malleable relationships that are subject to the whim of human desire and thought.

This course looks at globalization as a set of historical and geographical relationships on different regions and groups. 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?

Student learning goals

Critically analyze the different ways various countries are represented and their political effects.

Recognize the proliferation of competing theories and assumptions about globalization and development in everyday public discourse (e.g. on the radio, in the newspaper, or in conservations with friends). And then, connect these ideas to academic debates in order to critically assess the merits and drawbacks of both.

Apply theoretical positions to concrete cases of development/underdevelopment, trade/ sustainable livelihoods, and global poverty and justice.

Understand the historical relationships that mediate the meaning and value of different national and regional currencies. Analyze the movement of global commodities and their influence on different countries and social groups within that commodity chain process. Examine the potential efficacy of one or two social movement strategies against globalization.

Above all, students are asked to apply ideas from the course to contemporary issues, concerns and problems. By the end of the course students should be able to understand and communicate how global change is influenced by a) social relations within and across regions; b) various forms of economic production; and c) geographic representations of progress and development.

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. This course brings together graduate students from different disciplines and programs. We will work collaboratively connecting diverse disciplinary questions, theories and methods to explore the emerging interdisciplinary fields of global studies, development studies and cultural studies.

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

This is a writing and reading intensive course with a significant research component. You will have weekly reading responses and write-ups, and a quarter long commodity chain research assignment. In groups of 3-4, 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.

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: 10/08/2012