A History of World Societies,
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.
- 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
- 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 McDonalds.com
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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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?
- 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?
- 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
- 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?
- 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?