Situating the U.S. in Globalization Paradigms: 1980-Present


One of the most relevant outcomes of social studies education today is the teaching of “globalization.” Failure to teach this topic situates social studies with a backward glance that prepares students for the 20th century  Additionally, too often globalization in U.S. history courses is limited to an economic phenomenon or misinterpreted as a process of global ‘Americanization.’ Conversely, globalization is better taught as interconnected political, social, economic, and cultural processes and projects.

Also, globalization has a profound impact on contemporary identities, identify formation, and subsequently the formation of the “other.” The process of “othering” categorizes people from one’s own distinctiveness. Typically, the process uses qualifiers to marginalize groups as not being “authentic” and relegate collectives to inferior positions.  Recognizing this cognitive practice frees students to better engage ‘globalization’, and other concepts, like ‘modernity’ and ‘culture’, with a nuanced approach emphasizing complexity and connections over simplicity and isolation.

Essential Questions:

  1. How can globalization be defined and that explanation be nuanced and problematized?
  2. What are the major systems and ideas involved in and impacted by globalization?
  3. To what extent is Thomas Friedman’s claim that the “world is flat” a valid one?
  4. What are the limits of seeing culture as static, packaged groups of beliefs, actions, and qualities?

Module Resources:

  1. Larry Ferlazzo Blog Response
    • How do you teach globalization?Four educators — John T. Spencer, Diana Laufenberg, Jennifer D. Klein, and Jason Flom — have contributed responses to Craig’s question.  In addition, I’ve included comments from readers.
  2. C3 Inquiry Lessons
  3. Secondary Sources/Informational Text
  4. Primary Sources


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