Every now and then you come across a class which really changes your perspective entirely. For me that happened last semester when I took History 012: Globalization and its Historical Significance. The interdisciplinary class, lectured by Professor Guillen of the Lauder Institute, Professor Spooner of the Anthropology Department, and Professor Cassanelli of the History Department, looked at the phenomenon of globalization now as well as the historical processes which have lead us up to this point. We tackled a variety of topics and issues from global finance to the globalization of sport (think the Olympics or the World Cup) to the ever politically relevant topic of immigration.
This class opened my eyes in a couple of different ways. The first and most obvious, was that my actual understanding of globalization changed dramatically. Before taking History 012, I always thought about globalization strictly with respect to trade. The globalization of trade has become a buzz-topic of sorts in recent years, but globalization goes so much further than that. Globalization involves the creation of supranational organizations, cultures, institutions, and worldwide experiences. Today a resident of New York City probably has more in common with an individual living in London or the urban areas of the Pearl River Delta (a densely populated area in China) than they do with someone in rural Iowa or even upstate New York. Similarly, globalization does not just mean the spread of Western technologies and ideology. Instead, it has to do with the integration and mixing of diverse cultures and philosophies into a more global society.
But beyond just what I learned about globalization itself, this class really opened my eyes to the value and importance of interdisciplinary study. As a mathematical economics major I hear a lot about interdisciplinary work, but it wasn’t until I saw it take place within one class that I understood what makes it and the work done in the College so important. It was only through the synthesis of Professor Guillen’s knowledge of the global financial system and global politics, Professor Spooner’s expertise regarding the social origins of globalization and its unevenness, and Professor Cassanelli’s deep understanding of African culture that we were finally able to put together the pieces and get a complete understanding of globalization. Globalization and its Historical Significance really put into perspective for me what it means to truly take a multi-disciplinary look at a problem or a phenomenon, in order to come to a much more complete answer or understanding. I look forward to taking more classes like this during the rest of my time at Penn!