Globalization, Sustainability, and Justice [CRN 83351]

Discipline: Political Science
Instructor: van der Westhuizen
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1540
End: 1700
Field Work: Day 1 | October 28, 2019 | Ghana
Prerequisites: One (1) international relations course OR one (1) comparative government and politics course Download Syllabus

This course intends to provide students with a ‘big picture’ mode of analysis, to grasp the complex interplay between globalization, sustainability, and justice. To do so, the course is structured into two main parts. The first examines the causes of globalization and introduces the analytical framework through which we will explore the globalization/sustainability interface. Within this framework, globalization consists of three spheres or ‘worlds’: the transnational policy-making world (consisting of national governments, big corporations and international organizations); the dissident world (comprising various social movements) and the covert world (mafia’s, arms traders, mercenaries etc.) all of them operating within the confines of biosphere increasingly under stress. To explore the crises and contradictions that emerge from globalization and sustainability, the second part of the course focusses on the critical role played by the fossil fuel industry and its implications for sustainability. Drawing on the ‘resource curse’ literature, we will examine the ‘resource curse’ debate in relation to a number of oil and other fossil fuel producers on our voyage, namely Ghana, Ecuador, Trinidad and Tobago and possibly, Brazil and how these countries deal with issues of sustainability, keeping in mind the role of national governments, big corporations as well as social movements.

Field Work

Country: Ghana
Day: 1
Date: October 28, 2019

In class we will be discussing the process of globalization. Governments in the developing world are often very vulnerable to the demands of companies in the extractive sector, often at the risk of sustainability. How NGOs seek to pressure governments to be aware of the impact of globalization especially in relation to the environment, makes for a worthy field class to examine how NGOS frame issues and how NGOs seek to mobilize international support for their cause.

Our field class has been specifically designed to connect to one of the components of our globalization framework, namely the ‘dissident world’ or the world of NGOs, social movements and the role of civil society. Given our specific focus on extractive resources and globalization, our visit to Friends of the Earth in Accra, Ghana is to understand the problems NGOs often face in making both governments and companies aware of the consequences of mining, timber and other forms of natural resource extraction for both ordinary people and the environment.

Learning Objectives:

1. For students to see ‘what’ and NGO is, what they do and how they operate
2. We visit Friends of the Earth (FOE) specifically as an NGO concerned with environmental sustainability issues
3. To interact with staff at FOE to understand what are the problems NGOs face in getting support for their campaigns (this is also their writing assignment after the field class)