Globalization is one of the most powerful sources of change in the world today. It can be thought of as a process by which countries come closer together through increasing contact, communication, and trade, to create a single global system in which developments in one part of the world influence individuals and communities elsewhere in the world. In the first part of the course we shall consider the major dimensions of globalization, looking at the history of the concept and exploring the impacts of economic, social and cultural forces. The focus of the course then shifts to examine one of the major events impacting our world today: China’s recent arrival on the global stage as an economic, political, and cultural power. Our analysis begins with a look at some of the internal consequences of China’s reform and restructuring over the last three decades, focusing on the state’s attempts to restructure the economy, reduce poverty, and raise the quality of life for the people. We also consider some of the external impacts of China’s globalization in Asia and Africa, emphasizing four dimensions: its new-found economic strength; its increasing political importance as a global superpower; its struggle to locate and extract resources from all corners of the globe; and its attempts to persuade other states to go along with its goals and objectives without compulsion or inducement, through the use of its “soft power.” The geography of our Spring 2017 SAS voyage allows us to take a close-up look at these processes, including a visit to Shanghai, one of the upcoming “command and control” centers of the world economy. Before and after this we visit Japan and India, key locations in the geography of economic and political globalization, both of which have important but contentious relationships with China. We shall also visit other Asian countries — Vietnam and Myanmar — where Chinese investment, as well as political and cultural influence is increasingly crucial to national and regional economies. The last three ports we visit are in Africa, where China has focussed on securing the long-term energy and raw material supplies needed to sustain its rapid development, and investing in massive infrastructure projects in many countries. For all of these destinations, lecture materials, readings, films, and field work will be utilized to give students a hands-on and dynamic look at the processes of globalization as they are evolving.
By the end of this this class students should be able to:
- Describe the main debates and controversies surrounding globalization, with an emphasis on Asia and Africa;
- Appreciate some of the advantages and benefits that globalization (especially in economic terms) brings to parts of the “global South”;
- Appreciate China’s role in contemporary globalization trends: in cultural, economic and political terms;
- Analyze the ties and tensions of uneven global development;
- Interpret and propose solutions to the adverse consequences of globalization forces;
- Understand some of the efforts to oppose and resist the forces of globalization in different parts of the world;
- Evaluate the way in which global forces have impacts on personal choices and everyday life in a range of cities around the world.
Field WorkCountry: China
Date: January 31, 2017
The field class will begin at the United States Consulate, where students will be briefed by experts on some of the history and geography of Shanghai’s extraordinary rise to economic and cultural prominence in contemporary China. Students will also meet with local urban experts to hear about some of the problems faced by a city of this scale, and to learn about the planning strategies for containing the city and making its future development sustainable. Visits will also be arranged to the Pudong district on the east side of the river from the old colonial core, including (if time allows) a tour to the summit of one of the city’s tallest buildings, and a visit to the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, to see the three-dimensional model of urban Shanghai, which shows the existing urban structure and the spatial dimensions of alternative plans for the future. Both activities will help students to grasp the sheer immensity of this sprawling city, and to appreciate its role in China’s globalization and economic development over the past three decades.
1. Assess and evaluate the extraordinary growth of Shanghai and its metropolitan region, in economic, demographic and spatial terms
2. Appreciate and understand Shanghai’s pivotal role in China’s economic and urban development