Globalization and You

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Course Date: 31 March 2014 to 09 June 2014 (10 weeks)

Price: free

Course Summary

This course offers an evidence-based analysis of globalization that addresses what is happening to us personally as well as economically amidst the market-led processes of global integration.

Estimated Workload: 2-3 hours/week

Course Instructors

Matthew Sparke

Dr. Matthew Sparke is a Professor of Geography and International Studies, and Director of the Integrated Social Sciences at the University of Washington. He is the author of many articles on globalization as well as two books, Introducing Globalization: Ties, Tensions and Uneven Integration (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013)  and In the Space of Theory: Post Foundational Geographies of the Nation-State (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005).

Dr. Sparke has won the University of Washington's lifetime Distinguished Teacher Award for his teaching about globalization, as well as prizes for excellence in global education from the pan-Hellenic association and Jackson School of International Studies.

Course Description

Particular attention is paid to the ways market-led macro-economic reforms associated with globalization (such as free trade agreements and privatization initiatives) have come together with much more micro innovations in how personal behavior is organized by market forces (rethinking education as a personal investment practice, for example, or outsourcing dating to for-profit companies).  Mediating between these macro and micro scales of capitalist transformation are a wide array of other market-based mechanisms examined in the course.  From bond risk ratings to the market metrics shaping FICO scores, personalized medicine and online mapping, these market-mechanisms require close examination. Tracing their influence with an awareness of their material geographic variation and unevenness, the course offers an alternative to economistic assumptions about choice-maximizing behavior on a ‘level playing field’. It explores instead the complex uneven development dynamics of globalization in ways that allow you to see how your own personal perspectives on these dynamics are at once outcomes and enablers of economic and social change.  And, by doing so, the course aims in turn at enabling you to be a more engaged participant in the ongoing debates over the direction these dynamics should take.  Key words that are debated, defined and/or explained in the course include: globalization, interdependency, discourse, capitalism, neoliberalism, value, financialization, harmonization, competition, governance, governmentality, power, citizenship, choice, accountability, enclaving, geopolitics, biopolitics, biocapital and global health.


Is there a statement of completion or certificate issued for this course?
No, there is not a credential awarded for this course.


Course goal:
To enable you to comprehend market-led globalization in ways that allow you to evaluate how your own life and personal choices are shaped by market forces and associated global ties.

Course-level learning objectives:
At the end of this class you will be able to:

  • Describe the main debates and controversies surrounding globalization;
  • Analyze the ties and tensions of uneven global development;
  • Understand the growing impact of global market integration;
  • Synthesize knowledge of market globalization with your own experiences of market forces and market reforms;
  • Evaluate the way in which market forces define and delimit personal choices and everyday life globally;
  • Develop capacity to respond and reflect personally amidst the ties and tensions of market-led globalization.

Assignment Overview:
Here are some of the course assignments and activities: 

  • Video lectures: Most of the course content is delivered through video lectures. Each video runs 10-12 minutes
  • Discussion forums: This class thrives on discussion. Multiple discussion forums are designed to develop out of the lectures. You will have the ability to articulate your own views on globalization as well as learn from your fellow students from around the world.
  • Quizzes: Many video lectures have short quizzes embedded that allow you to check your grasp of basic knowledge as the course proceeds.
  • Peer Assessment Assignments - There are peer assessment activities available for this course.  By participating in these, and reading and responding to the work of others, you can also help improve your own learning and understanding.


Week 1: Course overview and Globalization
- part i) Definitions: introducing a world of iInterdependency and a word
- part ii) The ties that bind: outlining the networks of global interdependency
- part iii) Maps of the invisible and unequal: building your global knowledge of uneven global integration
Week 2: Discourse
- part i) Dominant discourse on globalization
- part ii) Dissident discourse on globalization
- part iii) Decoding discourse you use about globalization
Week 3: Commodities
- part i) World trade
- part ii) Commodity chains
- part iii) TNCs, brand identity and the commodification of yourself
Week 4: Labor
- part i) Worker worlds and changing geographical divisions of labor
- part ii) Worker solidarity and changing social divisions of labor
- part iii) Training yourself to be a global worker
Week 5: Money
- part i) Making sense of your money and global financial news
- part ii) From bretton woods to the rise of global finance
- part iii) Inequality, poverty and the market discipline of debt
Week 6: Law
- part i) Trade agreements and the globalization of commercial law
- part ii) Courts human rights and judicial globalization
- part iii) Personal rights and responsibilities amidst the grassroots globalization of law
Week 7: Governance
- part i) Market rule and the end of the nation-state
- part ii) IGOs, global development and neoliberal governance
- part iii) NGOs, personal behavior and neoliberal governmentality
Week 8: Space
- part i) Uneven development, geopolitics and geoeconomics
- part ii) Global cities and speculative urbanism
- part iii) Enclaves, slums and citizenship
Week 9: Health
- part i) Interdependent ecologies of global change
- part ii) Molecular biomedicine and global health
- part iii) Globalization and the global determinants of health
Week 10: Responses and Conclusion
- part i) Globalization and the 3 'Rs' of reaction, resistance and resilience
- part ii) Comparing and contrasting reaction and resistance as alternative responses to global neoliberalization
- part iii) Conceptualizing resilience, resistance and response-ability in global education innovation

Suggested Reading

Matthew Sparke, Introducing Globalization: Ties, Tensions and Uneven Integration (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013)

Randy Martin,  Financialization of daily life  (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2002)

Arlie Russell Hochschild, A. The outsourced self: Intimate life in market times (New York, NY: Metropolitan Books, 2012)

Course Workload

2-3 hours/week

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