Globalization: The Crucial Phase

Globalization: The Crucial Phase

Globalization: The Crucial Phase

Globalization: The Crucial Phase


Throughout human history, the rate of world population growth overall has been outpaced by the rate of urban population growth. Right now, more the half the world's population lives in cities, and that proportion will only increase in the next fifty years. Rapid urban growth accelerates the exchange of ideas, the expansion of social networks, and the diversity of human interactions that accompany globalization. The present century is therefore the crucial phase, when the world's increasing interconnectedness may give rise to innovation and collaboration or intensify conflict and environmental disaster.

Bringing together scholars of anthropology and social science as well as law and medicine, Globalization: The Crucial Phase presents a holistic and comprehensive understanding of the way the world is changing. The contributors reveal the changing scale of social, economic, and financial diversity, examine the impact of globalization on the environment, health, and nutrition; and consider the initiatives to address the social problems and opportunities that arise from global migration. Collectively, these diverse interdisciplinary perspectives provide an introduction to vital research and policy initiatives in a period that will bring great challenges but also great potential.

Contributors : Nancy Biller, Christina Catanese, Robert J. Collins, Megan Doherty, Zhengxia Dou, Richard J. Estes, James Ferguson, David Galligan, Mauro Guillén, Cameron Hu, John D. Keenan, Alan Kelly, Janet M. Monge, Marjorie Muecke, Neal Nathanson, Sarah Paoletti, Adriana Petryna, Alan Ruby, Theodore G. Schurr, Brian Spooner, Joseph S. Sun, Zhiguo Wu, Huiquan Zhou.


In 1999, I invited Lee Cassanelli (in History and African Studies) and Mauro Guillén (in Management and Sociology) to work with me (in the Museum, Anthropology, South Asian and Near Eastern Studies) to design a course on “Globalization in Historical Perspective.” The occasion was a call from the then Dean of the College of Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) for a new series of original team-taught interdisciplinary courses that would form a five-year experimental Pilot Curriculum for the General Requirement part of the BA degree. In the following years the course gradually developed into a program: we added research seminars, engaged in discussion of methodological problems, and formulated longer term objectives. Most importantly we began to work out a clearer formulation of the essential continuities between the functions of the Museum and of education and research more generally throughout the modern curriculum as it continues to change.

In 2005 with help from the SAS Instructional Technology Program we began work on a website ( A year later the Penn Institute for Urban Research (PIUR) provided funding for us to develop a campus-wide Faculty Forum on Globalization. As our Forum became known, an increasing number of faculty and students from a variety of disciplines and professions in each of Penn’s twelve schools joined us and began to recontextualize their work from international to global. What’s the difference? Briefly, international connects—from one to other national locations; global reconceptualizes—in terms of trajectories of world history, informed from the past, in expectation of what may come, as everything becomes more intensively interconnected. This reconceptualization . . .

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