Module 18: globalisation introduction

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If climate change is the key process in the natural world impacting on sustainable development, then globalisation is the parallel process in the human world, creating both opportunities for, and barriers to, sustainable development.

Globalisation is the ongoing process that is linking people, neighbourhoods, cities, regions and countries much more closely together than they have ever been before. This has resulted in our lives being intertwined with people in all parts of the world via the food we eat, the clothing we wear, the music we listen to, the information we get and the ideas we hold.

This interconnectedness amongst humans on the planet is sometimes also referred to as the ‘global village’ where the barriers of national and international boundaries become less relevant and the world, figuratively, a smaller place. The process is driven economically by international financial flows and trade, technologically by information technology and mass media entertainment, and very significantly, also by very human means such as cultural exchanges, migration and international tourism. As one commentator remarked, we now live in a networked world.

While globalisation is not a new process, it has accelerated rapidly since World War II, and is having many effects on people, the environment, cultures, national governments, economic development and human well-being in countries around the world. Many of these impacts are beneficial, but Jimmy Carter, a former President of the USA, has pointed out that many people are missing out on these benefits:

Globalisation, as defined by rich people like us, is a very nice thing… you are talking about the Internet, you are talking about cell phones, you are talking about computers. This doesn’t affect two-thirds of the people of the world.

Source: Jimmy Carter Quotes & Speeches

These issues make the development of an understanding of globalisation, its various integrated forms, its driving forces and its impacts a vitally important education objective. Such a understanding can provide young people with critical insights into the social, cultural and political impacts of the globalising impacts of economic integration and communication technologies – as well as provide them with capacities to assess the costs and benefits in their lives an communities and those of people in other parts of the world. This provides an important ethical, as well as analytical, dimension to the study of globalisation.


  • To understand basic concepts, processes and trends associated with globalisation;

  • To assess the impacts of globalisation and the wide range of reactions they have caused around the world;

  • To understand the interconnected nature of the major drivers of globalisation;

  • To appreciate the complexity of teaching about globalisation; and

  • To develop a rationale for integrating a global perspective in Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future.


  1. Growing Connections

  2. Circles and Systems

  3. What is globisation?

  4. Drivers of globalisation

  5. Evaluating globalisation

  6. Globalisation: Further Investigations

  7. Reflection


Anderson, S., Cavanagh, J. and Lee, T. (2005) Field Guide to the Global Economy, 2nd edition, Institute for Policy Studies, Washington DC.

Bardhan, P. (2005) Globalization, Inequality and Poverty: An Overview, University of California, Berkeley.

Bhagwati, J. (2004) In Defense of Globalization, Oxford University Press, New York.

Bhalla, S. (2002) Imagine There’s No Country. Poverty, Inequality, and Growth in the Era of Globalization, Institute for International Economics, Washington DC.

Broad, R. and Cavanagh, J. (2008) Development Redefined: How the Market Met its Match, Institue for Policy Studies, Washington DC.

Held, D. et al.(1999) Global transformations: politics, economics and culture, Stanford University Press, Stanford CA.

Hicks, D. and Holden, C. (eds) (2007) Teaching the Global Dimension: Key Principles and Effective Practice, Routledge, London.

Lash, S. and Lury, C. (2007) Global Culture Industry: The Mediation of Things, Polity Press, London.

Reich, R. (2007) Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life, Vintage Books, New York.

Richardson, R. (2004) Here, There and Everywhere: Belonging, Identity and Equality in Schools, Trentham Books, Stoke-on-Trent.

Steger, M. (2008) Globalisation: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Steger, M. (2009) Globalisation: The Great Ideological Struggle of the twenty-first Century, Rowman and Littlefield, Lanham MD.

Stiglitz, J. (2002) Globalisation and Its Discontents, Norton & Company Inc., New York.

Stiglitz, J. (2006) Making Globalization Work, Norton and Company, Inc., New York.

Veseth, M. (2005) Globaloney: Unraveling the Myths of Globalisation, Rowman and Littlefield, Lanham MD.

Wolk, M. (2004) Why Globalisation Works, Yale University Press.

World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation (2004) A Fair Globalisation: Creating Opportunities for All, International Labour Organisation, Geneva.



Center for Global Development

Centre for Research on Globalization (Canada) – Global Research

Center for Strategic and International Studies (State University of New York) – Globalization 101

Focus on the Global South

Global Policy Forum

Brookings Institute Center for Global Economy and Development – Globalisation Guide

UN Millennium Development Goal Indicators Database

WIDER (World Institute for Development Economics Research)

World Bank – Inequality Around the World

World Commission on Globalisation: A Fair Globalisation – Creating Opportunities for All


We wish to thank the Yale Centre for the Study of Globalisation for providing the “Small Screen, Smaller World” to include on the CDRom version of this programme.


This module was written for UNESCO by John Fien.

The production of this module was funded by the Japanese Funds-in-Trust.


Begin by opening your learning journal for this activity.


All day every day we are linked to ideas, processes and products from all over the world. For example, consider the morning routine of a typical student.

Hover over any word in the story, which you think links the young person to a global connection somewhere in the world each morning. How many global connections can you find?

As I wake up, I throw back the sheets and blankets, get out of bed and put on my slippers. I then go to the bathroom where I wash with soap and water. Returning to my bedroom, I take off my pyjamas and put on my clothes and shoes for school. I look out the window to check the likely weather – cold and rainy – and decide that I had better wear a jacket to keep me warm. Downstairs in the kitchen, I eat a bowl of cereal and drink a cup of coffee while watching CNN. Realising I am running late, I rush upstairs to clean my teeth. Downstairs again, I pull on my jacket and hat, pick up my books and head out the door to the bus stop.

Read the story again, this time with all the global connections included.

Q1: The story Good Morning World! was written to try to be “typical” and have some relevance to students in as many parts of the world as possible. Rewrite both forms of the story so that it more accurately described the typical morning of young people in your country.

Typically, these cultural, economic and environmental aspects of globalisation are the ones most often considered when people think about globalisation. These will also be a focus of this module as they strongly affect the prospects for sustainable development, both positively and negatively.

However, growing ideas about the need for international understanding and a global culture of peace. This is an important aspect of globalisation and Education for Sustainable Development.


Robert Muller was born in a disputed area of Belgium in 1923, the son of a hat maker. He was raised in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France, which endured so much political and cultural turmoil that his grandparents switched nationalities five times (French, German, French, German, and French) without leaving their village.

During World War II, Robert Muller lived under Nazi occupation and was imprisoned by the Gestapo. He then became a refugee, and later a member of the French Resistance.

On the night of the French liberation from Germany at the end of the war, he stood in a field and wept for all the young people whose lives were lost. That night Muller swore he would devote his life to peace.

In 1947, Robert Muller won an essay contest on world government. The prize was an internship at the newly-created United Nations in New York. He devoted the next 40 years to the UN, working behind the scenes on global cooperation to bring about a lasting world peace. He rose through the ranks of the UN to the highest appointed position: Assistant Secretary-General. He was nicknamed the “Prophet of Hope” for his spirit of peace and his many contributions to the United Nations.


Among the many honours for his efforts to build a global culture of peace, Robert Muller was made Chancellor of the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica. He was also awarded the Albert Schweitzer International Prize for the Humanities, the Eleanor Roosevelt Man of Vision Award, and the World Citizenship Award from the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

UNESCO awarded him the 1989 Peace Education Prize in recognition of World Core Curriculum that he wrote. This outlined four areas of essential knowledge:

  1. Our Planetary Home and Place in the Universe

  2. Our Place in Time

  3. The Family of Humanity

  4. The Miracle of Individual Life

Q2: Many people see globalisation as something to do with international finance and trade, multinational compaies the Internet, Hollywood and Boolywood movies and other threats to local identity and culture. Why do you think Robert Muller’s World Core Curriculum seems to be much wider than this?


As a result of his work on the World Core Curriculum, Robert Muller is know as “the father of global education”. This is the challenge he posed to governments and teachers:

A child born today will be faced as an adult, almost daily, with problems of a global interdependent nature, be it peace, food, the quality of life, inflation, or scarcity of resources. He (sic) will be both an actor and a beneficiary or a victim in the total world fabric, and he may rightly ask: “Why was I not warned? Why was I not better educated? Why did my teachers not tell me about these problems and indicate my behaviour as a member of an interdependent human race?”

It is, therefore, the duty and the self-enlightened interest of governments to educate their children properly about the type of world in which they are going to live. They must inform them of the action, the endeavour, and the recommendations of their global organisations … and prepare their young people to assume responsibility for the consequences of their actions and help in the care of several billion more fellow humans on Earth.

Source: Muller, R. (1982) New Genesis. Shaping a Global Spirituality, Doubleday, New York.

Q3: When you read arguments as persuasive as this quotation, it is hard to understand why all school curricula do not have a strong global perspective. Yet, this is not the case in many parts of the world. What reasons do you think curriculum writers or teachers may have for neglecting the global perspective?

Q4: How would you answer them?

Save your answers to Questions 2-4 in your learning journal as you will return to them at the end of this module.


Begin by opening your learning journal for this activity.


As well as Robert Muller, many other global educators and peace makers have won the UNESCO Peace Education Prize. Some include:

1981   Helena Kekkonen (Finland)

1986   Paulo Freire (Brazil)

1990   Rigoberta Menchú Tum (Guatemala)

1992   Mother Teresa of Calcutta

1994   The Venerable Prayudh Payutto (Thailand)

1996   Chiara Lubich (Italy)

1997   François Giraud (France)

2000   Toh Swee-Hin (Australia)

2001   Bishop Nelson Onono-Onweng (Uganda)

2006   Christopher Gregory Weeramantry (Sri Lanka)

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