POLI 3991: Globalization and Its Discontents

This is a Web seminar course that examines three economic institutions that are central to understanding the processes referred to as "globalization": the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization. The course develops a framework of the key concepts in discussions of globalization before exploring the political origins and current social consequences of these organizations and examining related issues of global governance, corporate accountability, and global justice.


After you have completed the work in this course, you should be able to:

  • Find and assess information relevant to issues of globalization on the Internet.
  • Participate in discussions about globalization in an informed manner.
  • Explain key terms used in discussions about economic globalization.
  • Develop a broad definition of globalization.
  • Discuss different ideologies in favour and against globalization.
  • Discuss the relationship between politics and economics.
  • Locate current political and economic discussions within a historical context.
  • Describe and critique the three political/economic institutions that are central to the process of globalization: the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
  • Analyze case studies on the international role of one or more of these political/economic institutions.
  • Identify and discuss some of the political consequences of globalization.
  • Outline and engage in the debates and issues around global governance and global justice.
  • Sustain an interest in reading, writing, and talking about contemporary issues in globalization.
  • Adopt a critical but receptive attitude towards alternative perspectives on political and social questions.
  • Evaluate contesting arguments about globalization and society by applying tests of logic and fact verification.
  • Develop a reasoned and social science-based approach to dealing with complex political and social questions connected to globalization.
  • Analyze the complex political and social questions related to globalization and produce informed judgments about them.
  • Appreciate the importance of the relationship between globalization and the European and North American colonization of the rest of the world.

Course outline

The course is divided into four units, which are further divided into topics of study:

Unit 1: Theoretical and Historical Framework for Discussing Globalization

  • Topic 1.1: Financial Global Crisis of the XXI Century
  • Topic 1.2: The Role of the Nation-State
  • Topic 1.3: Theoretical Perspectives on Political Economy
  • Topic 1.4: Globalization vs. Interventionism and Development

Unit 2: The Global Financial System

  • Topic 2.1: Economic Ideology and Globalization
  • Topic 2.2: Financial Globalization
  • Topic 2.3: The International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  • Topic 2.4: The World Bank

Unit 3: Free Trade Enforcement and Corporate Power vs. the Environment and Democracy

  • Topic 3.1: The Issue of Accountability
  • Topic 3.2: Free Trade Enforcement: WTO and NAFTA
  • Topic 3.3: Corporate Interests vs. Public Interests
  • Topic 3.4: Globalization and the Environment
  • Topic 3.5: Global Governance and Democratic Accountability

Unit 4: Resistance to Globalization and the Alternatives: Is World Justice Possible?

  • Topic 4.1: Some Consequences of Globalization
  • Topic 4.2: Social Movements and Social Change
  • Topic 4.3: Different Positions on the Future of Globalization
  • Topic 4.4: Cosmopolitanism and Globalization

Required text and materials

  1. No-nonsense Guide to Globalization. 3rd. edition. Ellwood, W. Ottawa: New Internationalist. (2010).
    Type: Book ISBN: 9780897071670
  1. The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy. Rodrik, D.. New York: Norton. (2011).
    Type: Book ISBN: 978-0-393-34128-7
  1. Unholy Trinity; the IMF, World Bank and WTO. 2nd edition. Peet, R.. New York: Zed Books. (2009).
    Type: Book ISBN: 9781848132528

Students enrolling in this course will need to source the following textbook on their own:

  1. Making Globalization Work. Stiglitz, J.. New York: Norton. (2006).
    Type: Book ISBN: 978-0-393-06122-2

You are responsible for viewing this video:

  1. Inside Job. Ferguson, C. & Marrs, A., (Producers). Los Angeles, CA: Sony Pictures Classics. (2010).
    Type: Type:Motion picture

Note: The video may be available for free at http://watchdocumentaries.com/inside-job/.

Additional requirements

Computer with Internet is required.


In order to successfully complete this course, you must obtain at least 50% on the final examination and 50% overall. The following chart shows how the final grade is determined for this course.

Assignment 1 15%
Assignment 2 15%
Assignment 3 15%
Assignment 4 15%
Web Discussions 15%
Final Project * 25%
TOTAL 100%

* Mandatory

Open Learning Faculty Member

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Primary communication through the Learning Environment's "Mail" tool or by phone. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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