Pulitzer-prize winning columnist Thomas L. Friedman defines globalization as the international system that replaced the Cold War system. It is the integration of capital, technology and information across national borders in a way that is creating a single global market and, to some degree, a global village. riedman's critically-acclaimed book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, was a central part of a new class this spring at Union, appropriately titled, “Globalization.''
It was the second Minerva-sponsored course, following Election 2004, a hugely popular class offered that fall.
Students play a key role in a Minerva class by helping shape the curriculum and choosing the instructors.
Eight faculty members taught how globalization affects everything from the type of food people eat to the music they listen to. There was no midterm; students took a series of mini-exams.
Among the topics were “The Economic Case for Globalization: Is Free Trade a Good Thing,'' taught by Economics Professor Tomas Dvorak; “The Digital Divide: Outsourcing and Offshoring of Jobs,'' with Computer Science Professor Valerie Barr; and “The Effects of Globalization in the Distribution and Meaning of Popular Music,'' taught by Anthropology Professor Derek Pardue.
Other professors included George Shaw (Geology), Ashraf Ghaly (Engineering and Computer Science), and Kenji Tierney, George Gmelch and Sharon Gmelch (Anthropology).
“It's really neat,'' senior Emily Clark said of the Minerva course concept. “It gives students exposure to different professors and teaching styles. With so many different subject matters, students are also more likely to find something that truly engages them.''
Clark was chair of the committee that organized the class. Other members included Amy Bell ‘06, Michael Eisnach '07 and Professor George Gmelch.
Clark, an anthropology and modern languages major, found the idea of a class on globalization intriguing.
“I didn't know much about the politics of globalization or the economics,'' said Clark, a resident of Beuth House, which sponsors the class. “But I can see it through a cultural lens. This class gave me a better understanding of what it all means.''
In addition to Friedman's best-selling book, students also watched several segments of “Commanding Heights,” an award-winning PBS documentary on globalization.
“Globalization is such an interesting topic, not only for the students, but for me, as well,'' said George Gmelch, who lectured on its role in sports.