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A History of World Societies, Sixth Edition
Web Exercises
Chapter 36: One Small Planet

As the world enters the twenty-first century, the pace of change has seemed to outstretch our ability to comprehend it. Phrases such as globalization, the global village, the information age, the end of history, and sovereignty at bay dominate the headlines. Contemporary analysts see our world more and more as one large community, not a system of competing nation states. Many of them view this trend positively and predict a more peaceful century than the last. Others are more pessimistic and note the tensions produced by the growing inequality of wealth between regions, the depletion of natural resources, and the resurgence of religious and ethnic conflict in the post-Cold War era. These Internet activities will explore this debate in order to place the global issues of the new millennium in perspective.

Helpful Hints:
  • You may want to begin by printing this page. As you explore different sites, use the printout to refer back to the instructions and questions detailed in each activity.
  • On many web sites you can increase the size of the images by clicking on them. Whenever possible, use the larger images to examine fine details in photographs.
Activity One:
  • One of the more profound developments of the last several decades of the twentieth century has been the rise of multinational corporations. For more information go to Multinational Corporations and read the section "Largest Corporations."  Where are these corporations, and how much wealth do they control?
  • For a closer look, visit General Motors - Global Locations. Click on at least one nation in each region listed here to see what GM is doing in that part of the world. For another example, go to and click on select a country at the bottom of the page. Choose one country from every continent to investigate McDonalds overseas activities. These are just two companies that represent globalization, or the process by which service industries and manufacturing enterprises are establishing enterprises on a truly global scale. Why do you think these companies have globalized? What factors have made this development possible? Think of all the changes in travel and communication since World War II.
Activity Two:
  • The consequences of this globalization have provoked a heated discussion among academics, governments, and contemporary analysts. For a positive view, see The Effects of Multinational Companies on Development. Explain the Novartis Foundation's defense of multinational corporate activity in the developing world. For another view of this activity, visit the BBC: Battle for Free Trade. Although it might take a while, click on all the hyperlinks at this site and view the audiovisual material. The protest at the World Trade Organization's Annual Meeting in Seattle during December 1999 caught many observers off guard. List the numerous grievances of the protestors. Explain their negative view on the impact of globalization on the developing world and describe any other negative positions they articulated. For example, what was their position on the impact of globalization on the environment? What was their view of the impact it had on workers' rights all over the world? Summarize the competing views of globalization expressed at these two sites. Which view do you share, the positive or negative outlook? Defend your answer.
Activity Three:
  • The controversy over globalization does not only revolve around its impact on developing nations. Read the essay Viven A. Schmidt, "The New World Order, Incorporated: The Rise of Business and the Decline of the Nation State," Daedalus, Vol. 124, no. 2 (Spring 1995). Analyze the impact of globalization on the industrial democracies. What economic goals did the nations listed here pursue after World War II? How has the globalization of business and financial markets challenged these goals? Analyze to what extent that globalization has challenged the sovereignty of nations. What limits do governments now face in deciding economic policy? Which interest groups have gained more power over national governments? Which interests groups have seen their influence decline? Give specific examples.
Activity Four:
  • The issues explored in Activity Three have produced a backlash in industrialized nations. For example see Joerg Haider: The Rise of an Austrian Extreme Rightist. Analyze the connection between the growing popularity of candidates such as Haider and globalization. What fears and concerns do they exploit? To which interest groups do you think they appeal?
Activity Five:
  • The uneasiness over globalization, as demonstrated in Seattle and in the rise of nationalist candidates, reflects a general uneasiness at the dawn of the twenty-first century. The Cold War dominated global affairs during the second half of the twentieth century. The abrupt end of that conflict between 1989 and 1991 forced analysts, particularly those in the West, to reevaluate their outlook on the future of the world.
  • Read the transcript from an interview given by Francis Fukuyama at Transcript: interview with Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History and the Last Man. For a different viewpoint, read The Clash of Civilizations by Samuel Huntington (this is the article on which his 1996 book was based).  Summarize each man's predictions for the future. Who is more optimistic and who is more pessimistic? How do they view the future of Western values, especially the ideas of liberal democracy or of popular sovereignty? Do they predict that these values will become universal or that they will be increasingly challenged? Do they envision a peaceful liberal international order where nations work toward common goals or a more fractured world order?
Activity Six:
  • Fukuyama and Huntington wrote their books several years ago. How have recent trends in global affairs confirmed or contradicted their views? To pursue this task, go to DND/CF : Operations : Current Operations.  Scroll down and choose one conflict for every continent for further investigation. Are the issues religious, ethnic, or nationalistic? In other words, are people fighting to further the interests of their nation, or are they fighting to liberate an ethnic or religious minority?
  • Visit the Official Website of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the ruling party in India today. Study the "Party History," "Party Philosophy," and the "Election Manifesto." You can access this information by clicking on these titles in the right-hand frame. Describe the goals of this political organization. Why has it been successful at the ballot box in the past few years?
  • Analyze the information at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: NON-PROLIFERATION: Nuclear Arsenals of the Non-NPT Nuclear Weapon States. Who are the main rivals of these three nations with nuclear capabilities? Describe the nature of this antagonism. Is it economic, religious, or ethnic?
Activity Seven:
  • Globalization has created a whole new set of realities beyond the narrow confines of nation states. One major consequence of the revolution in transportation that has transformed the world since 1945 has been the emergence and spread of the AIDS epidemic. For a history of the disease, go to History, Pictures, and Origins of HIV and AIDS. Read the links under "AIDS and HIV History," and "Origin of HIV and AIDS." According to scientists where and how did AIDS originate? How did it spread? Among whom did it spread in different regions of the world?
  • For the current status of the spread of this disease, see Report on the global HIV/AIDS epidemic June 1998. Be sure to click the right-pointing arrow at the bottom of the picture and continue reading this essay through the next frame. Where has AIDS spread since the outbreak of the epidemic? Where do scientists predict it will spread in the future? What is the connection between the spread of AIDS and globalization? Can you think of any past episodes in world history that resemble this current situation?