Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session



Course Description

This subject examines the paradoxes of contemporary globalization. Through lectures, discussions and student presentations, we will study the cultural, linguistic, social and political impact of globalization across broad international borders. We will consider answers to key questions such as: What are the contending definitions of globalization? What are the principal agents of change? How have those agents of change been transformed in our contemporary world? What’s new, what’s hybrid, and what’s traditional? What does it mean to be a world citizen? How can world citizens preserve cultural specificity? What is the political impact of global epidemics? Why is everyone arguing about trade agreements? How has globalization changed gender roles?

We will pay attention to the subtle interplay of history, geography, language and cultural norms that gave rise to specific ways of life. The materials for the course include fiction, nonfiction, audio pieces, maps and visual materials.

Course Format

This subject is a “communication intensive” class. That means that, in our work together, you will receive instruction in formal speaking and academic writing, and you will have the opportunity to strengthen these skills in response to extensive feedback on the varied assignments. Each student will write two essays—at least four pages each—in the course of the term. For the first essay, students will submit first versions that will be given provisional grades by the instructors; then students will see the writing advisor to improve a final version that will be graded by the instructors. For the second essay students will meet directly with the writing advisor to discuss the draft and then produce a second version to be graded by the instructors. In addition, students will submit three two-page response papers that will be graded. There will be two announced reading quizzes in the course of the term. You will learn and practice the art of giving oral presentations in speaking tasks scheduled throughout the semester and in final group project presentations. The final group project includes written submissions, including a formal proposal, that will be graded.

Course Expectations

You are expected to do the following:

  1. Attend all classes since class discussion is central to the course. Unexcused absences will automatically lower your grade.
  2. Prepare for class by reading, viewing and listening to the assigned material. Well-prepared students are crucial for the success of the class.
  3. View the films listed on the syllabus; they are an integral part of the course. They will be streamed and you will be able to view them on your own computers.
  4. Submit short response papers and longer essays as indicated on the syllabus. Due dates are indicated in the Calendar and Assignments sections. Unless you have a convincing excuse, any late paper will lower your grade.
  5. Work in groups on a team-based project for the second half of the semester. We will distribute guidelines for the team presentation by the third week of the semester.
  6. Please do not use laptops, tablets, netbooks or smart phones in class. Our course is a semester long conversation and, like any sustained exchange, benefits greatly from our undivided attention. We will use technology extensively throughout the semester; however, as far as your note-taking is concerned, I ask that you use pen and paper.
  7. Understand and practice academic integrity.
  8. Consult us if, at any time during the semester, you find yourself having trouble with work for the class. Do not wait until the end when it is too late.
  9. Share any suggestions regarding any aspect of the course—content, format, organization, assignments—by seeing me or by attaching a note to your papers.


The point value of each assignment (for a total of 100 points) follows:

Class attendance, participation & preparation 14%
Two reading quizzes 10%
Short response papers (2 x 8 points) 16%
Longer 4–5 page essays (2 x 20 points) 40%
Team presentations including written memo 20%

What You Can Expect

You can expect us to be interested in you, your contributions and your interactions in the class. We will provide timely feedback on your written and oral work. By the end of the semester, you can expect increased ease, fluency and appropriateness in written and oral expression; general insights into the complex interactions of geography, history, built environment, language and cultural norms; and confidence to engage in informed debates on globalization in a wider arena.

Required Texts

The following books should be purchased:

Otsuka, Julie. The Buddha in the Attic. Anchor Books, 2012. ISBN: 9780307744425. [Preview with Google Books]

Indiana, Rita. Papi: A Novel. Translated by Achy Obejas. University of Chicago Press, 2016. ISBN: 9780226244891. Preview with [Google Books]