Module 18: globalisation introduction

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Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future
© UNESCO 2010



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

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