GLO 100 Introduction to Global Studies

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to concepts and methods used in the interdisciplinary field of Global Studies. The goal of this course is to develop the skills needed to understand complex problems related to global interconnectedness.

A major component of the course is a team-based project involving two assignments — a commodity chain analysis and an ethnography of consumption. Here is a brief description of the former:

Your team needs to select a globally-traded commodity produced in another country that can be purchased locally in Newport—anything from a food like farmed salmon to a manufactured item like a cell phone – and create a commodity chain analysis of this product in the form of a digital presentation.

A commodity chain analysis demonstrates the linkages between the production, distribution, and consumption of a specific commodity. It also analyzes the social and environmental effects of the different stages of the commodity’s production and consumption and reveals something about the people involved in these stages. Your analysis should answer these questions:

  • Where does the commodity, or the key components that go into its production, come from?
  • What are the different stages (shipment, assembly, manufacture, distribution, marketing) it goes through from its foreign origin to final point of sale in Newport and who is involved in each stage?
  • What kinds of economic transactions occur along the commodity chain? Who benefits from or gets harmed by them, and how/why?

Partial Syllabus

Tom Mueller, “Slippery Business: The Trade in Adulterated Olive Oil,” The New Yorker, 13 August 2007.

Reading response:

  • Does the McWine “race to the bottom” hypothesis discussed by Veseth explain the market for olive oil? Why? If not, why is it incorrect for wine but correct for olive oil?

John Ikenberry, “Ch. 2: Globalization as American Hegemony,” Globalization Theory: Approaches and Controversies, David Held and Anthony McGrew, Polity Press, 2007.

Reading response:

  • Was the USA’s strategy of linking American hegemony with a global system of open markets a success? Why? Be sure to define what you mean by “success.”

Paige West, “Making the Market: Specialty Coffee, Generational Pitches, and Papua New Guinea,” Antipode 42(3) (2010): 690–718.

Reading response:

  • Do specialty coffees reduce the economic and social inequities associated with global trade? Why?

“The Economics of Bollywood,” MRU,

“Planet Money Makes a T-Shirt,” Planet Money,

Reading response:

  • Why is movie production geographically clustered but t-shirt production is not? Does this agree with what Ethan Zuckerman said about bits versus atoms? Why?

Ethnographic case studies – Read your choice of:

  • Katharine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
  • Leslie T. Chang, Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China