Welcome to the jungle

Course Description & Goals

 In this course we will examine the history and the material processes of globalization through its cultural characteristics. While the exact definition of globalization is contentious, many of us are now able to imagine a single planetary space linked by its technological, socio-economic, and political structures. This imaginary has a remarkable—though often unquestioned and illusory—influence on our personal and collective daily lives. From the ways we think of ourselves as citizens to the impact we have on ecological systems, globalization has had an unprecedented impact on the present and future equality and quality of existence.

We will strive to understand the complexities and contradictions of globalization in both its theoretical discourses as well as its material realities. Therefore, we will refrain from simplistic judgments that globalization is either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and instead attempt to interrogate its dynamic character. Throughout the course, close attention will be paid to the processes of production, circulation, and consumption. This trajectory will act as a framework to specify the questions we have about needs, distribution, and politics. The arc from where something is made to where it is consumed will be an ongoing preoccupation of ours, with emphasis on the interrelated oil, housing, food, and “culture” industries.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Students who successfully complete the course will have a nuanced understanding of globalization and the ability to critically engage with interdisciplinary scholarship about globalization. Including the abilities to:

  • Critically approach the discourses on the processes of globalization and its cultural manifestations
  • Apply critiques and theories to contemporary case studies
  • Examine the interrelationship of the global and local through material and cultural practices
  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of global power structures and inequalities
  • Discuss key challenges posed by globalization as positively and negatively impacted by real world policies and actions
  • Read critically, formulate research questions, engage in research and present findings in clear prose

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