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Big Era Nine: Panorama Unit

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1945 - Present

Why This Unit?

This unit focuses on the meaning of globalization, its impact on the world, and the varying reactions to this new ideology and system. Scholars have not yet settled on an exact definition of globalization. One definition is that it “denotes the expanding scale, growing magnitude, speeding up, and deepening impact of transcontinental flows and patterns of social interaction.” Globalism is not an entirely new concept. Karl Marx used the term, as did Adam Smith. In the 1970s, however, the symbols and reality of globalism took off with dramatic speed, and soon it circled the planet like the communications satellites that helped make it possible. By the end of the twentieth century, the terms “globalism” and “globalization” had become part of almost every American’s vocabulary. The terms also spread around the world in the same way that the names Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, Madonna, and Barack Obama have done. Whatever we think of the process, none of us can escape its effects. We sometimes refer to our era as the Information Age. Indeed, knowledge is critical to survival in a globalized world. Students need to understand the causes and effects of globalization in order to participate effectively in this new age.

Unit Objectives

Upon completing this unit, students will be able to:

1. Explain the ideological basis of the Cold War and describe the human and material cost of that forty-five-year struggle.

2. Define globalization and explain how it functions.

3. Analyze the impact of globalization by focusing on the role of multinational corporations in various parts of the world.

4. Compare how people in various parts of the world are responding to globalization and analyze the reasons for their differing responses.

Time and Materials

This unit has four lessons. The first should take no more than two days. The second can probably be taught in one day. If lesson 3 is done as a jigsaw, allow a full class period for covering the basic ideas. If teachers elect to have students reflect on each reading as a class, allow two or three days for discussion of their insights. The simulation described in lesson four may take a day or two.

Table of Contents

Why this unit?


Unit objectives


Time and materials




The historical context


Lesson 1: Vying for World Supremacy


Lesson 2: What is Globalization?


Lesson 3: How Does Globalization Affect People?


Lesson 4: Globalization for an Equitable World: A Simulation


This unit and the Standards in Historical Thinking




Correlations to National and State Standards


Complete Unit in PDF format

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