Lecture 1: A new world order?
Welcome to this course, Geography 20, Globalization. My name is Bob Acker, and my
office hours and e-mail address are on the syllabus that’s being distributed.
Your grade is comprised as follows: there will be a takehome midterm worth 20 percent
of the grade, a final exam worth 55 percent, and there will be 10 one or two page weekly essays
worth a total of 25 percent. You’ll discuss the assignments in section, and the sections will meet
next week. This reminds me to introduce your section leaders, Tingfei Fan, with Sections 101,
105 and 106, and Nick Salazar, with sections 102, 103 and 104. Sections meet next door in
This course is probably more difficult than the average lower division class, partly
because the subject is the economy of the whole world and what’s happening and going to
happen to it. Because the course is so big and so complex, I’ve devised two supplemental ways
to get course material to you. First, lectures will be posted on line in a Google group for this
course. In order to get into the group, send me an e-mail and I’ll enroll you in the group.
Second, the lectures will be podcasted, if that’s a word, at two websites, webcast.berkeley.edu
In this introductory lecture, I want to get a perspective on what the course is about. Next
time, I’ll discuss globalization from a historical perspective: Does it have deep historical roots or
is it a brand new phenomenon?
First, what is globalization? I’m going to start with a basic definition, which we’ll
amplify over the course of this semester: Globalization is the process of organizing the economy
on a global scale, so that products, investments, techniques and people are able to move freely
anywhere in the world in search of markets and opportunities, and the social, political and
cultural consequences that flow from that form of economic organization.
Globalization may be the most important thing in the world, and it’s certainly one of the
most ubiquitous. The opportunities it opens, the problems it causes, the adjustments it requires,
are the stuff of every issue of every day’s newspaper. And the reason for this ubiquity is that
globalization has become the new basic structure of the economy of the world. At the same time,
and as we’ll see as the course progresses, there’s nothing smooth or guaranteed about the process
of globalization. The process of globalization is much more advanced now than it was 30 years
ago, and it may be still more advanced 30 years from now, but it will not be a smooth ride at all.