Description: At the beginning of the 21st century, global and national elites and international financial institutions such as the WTO, IMF and World Bank claim that there are no alternatives to capitalist globalization. They claim that the world must be restructured according to the “free market” and “free trade” principles that open up countries to the products, services and investment of multinational corporations, reduce social relations to commercial transactions and impose Western development models on diverse cultures.
In this program, we will study diverse social movements and thinkers who are offering alternative ideas for organizing global society and meeting human needs. Many alternative visions have developed within the emerging global justice movement, yet they also draw on historical precedents and various traditions of resistance. We’ll examine alternatives to the dominant forms and institutions of globalization and strategies to achieve them. We’ll explore different theories and strategies that have developed around the world, including those influenced by socialist, anarchist, ecological, feminist and perspectives of the Global South. We’ll devote considerable time to case studies of existing or possible alternatives, for example Cuba, Venezuela and movements in Bolivia. The program will critically analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each tradition and proposed alternatives, with students formulating their own views and analytic approaches.
A central feature of the debate about globalization is how “free trade” principles and practices impact environment, public health and community life. We’ll learn how women’s rights advocates, workers, farmers, environmental activists, health advocates and consumers provide vantage points on how things are changing, as well as models for resistance, solidarity and sustainability.
Required Books: (in order of use)
(available at Evergreen Bookstore)
Ursula LeGuin The Dispossessed Harper Paperback
Oscar Olivera Cochabamba South End Press
Michael Yates Naming the System Monthly Review Press
Paul Farmer Pathologies of Power University of California
Aviva Chomsky et.al. The Cuba Reader Duke University Press
Jeffrey Sachs The End of Poverty Gardners Books
Joel Kovel The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or
The End of the World? Zed Books
(If bookstore doesn’t have Kovel, check out www.addall.com)
Additional Readings: Intermittently there will be augmenting readings…articles or book chapters. These will be sent out on the listserve or handed out.
ASSIGNMENTS & DUE DATES: (Assignments must be typed, double-spaced.)
Opening Short Essay: Framing Your Question (Due Friday, 9/30)
In a short essay (1 pg), develop a key question that you bring to this class. Why is this question important to you? Do you have any preliminary answers?
Do you see any relationship between themes in Dispossessed and Cochabamba? For example, compare and contrast the implicit alternatives in Bolivia’s social movements with the alternative society of Anarres. What’s your judgement of these alternatives? Write a 3-pg thesis-driven essay.
Experimental Writing (Assigment available 10/19; Due Friday, 10/21)
In the spirit of experimental forms of protest, we’ll try several short experimental forms of writing to open up some novel thinking space. (A more detailed handout on the assignment available 10/19; assignment @ 4 pgs.)
Take-Home Exam (Available Wed, 10/26; Due Wed, 11/2)
You will have one-week to work on this exam, which will involve a set of keyword identifications/elaborations and a choice of conceptual essay questions. This will be about 8-10 pgs.
Synthesis Paper (Due Friday, 12/2)
Critically evaluate how alternative prescriptions offered by Farmer, Chomsky et.al, Sachs and Kovel provide solutions to health/environmental problems of global concern.
(There will be a more detailed handout on 11/18 for this 8-9 pg. paper.)
Group Projects: Exploring Projects, Perspectives and Places
There will be a detailed handout later. The essential features and dates:
Week Four 10/19 Workshop forming Project Groups @ themes, issues.
Week Seven: Work-in-Progress Consultations, Brief Written Report.
Week Ten: Wed and Friday “Exploring Alternatives”
Group presentations, interactive workshops, poster sessions, etc.
Credit: Full Credit will be earned by doing all of the following:
Reading assigned texts in advance of class.
Participating in class activities (participation is active listening, speaking and thinking.)
Attending class (as attendance is a precondition of participation, absences will diminish your ability to earn full credit.)
Completing all assignments by the date due.
Writing a narrative self-evaluation for your transcript and an evaluation of your faculty seminar leader.
Attending an evaluation conference at the end of the quarter.
If you do all of the above at the passing level, you will earn 16 credits. The quality of the work you accomplish will be described in a narrative evaluation.
Follow and discuss current events that relate to program themes by reading daily newspaper and/or listening to radio news programs.
Continually work to improve your reading, writing and critical thinking skills.
Be able to critically analyze the strengths and weaknesses of different alternatives to capitalist globalization.
Develop awareness of your own worldview and be able to develop you own vision of alternatives to capitalist globalization.
Learn more about efforts around the world to resist and propose alternatives to capitalist globalization.
Reading Response Format:
You will NOT be required to write a weekly reading response paper. Sometimes we will hand out reading guides and ask you to answer specific questions in order to assist your preparation. But in general, we ask you to read each text, with the exception of The Cuba Reader, as making an argument about “alternatives to capitalist globalization” from a particular perspective. For preparation, we ask you to identify the following features of each text:
theoretical/political tradition or framework (e.g., marxist, anarchist, eco-feminist)
formulation of primary problem with capitalist globalization