Final Blog Reflection

December 12th, 2011

The last few weeks of summer in combination with the first few weeks of college are essentially a blur in my mind. The emotions in those weeks were mixed and almost palpable. I was excited and anxious to leave home but wary of the new shift at the same time; I was eager to start classes but nervous about how they would ultimately play out. I tried to make predictions about the nature of my classes- I did the typical research on my RateMyProfessor, read course descriptions repeatedly, and hoped that I’d survive. I’m the type of person who likes to have things planned out and organized, so I attempted to approach this new experience as informed as possible. When thinking back on this course, it is impossible to remove it from the context of my first semester at college. The beginning of my time here was dedicated to figuring out how to best function in a new setting, and much of that work was done in classrooms (including this freshman seminar). I came into this course, and this semester, unsure what to think. I didn’t know much about globalization and I didn’t know much about living in college. Throughout this semester I’ve learned a lot about both in a very short period of time, and developed not only my knowledge about globalization but also my knowledge about college life, learning, and how to be successful as a freshman. Through this class I’ve been able to develop what I consider a solid foundation of knowledge on globalization while increasing my ability to form and convey critical thoughts concerning the topic.

As I mentioned in my midterm blog reflection, the beginning of this class was a bit of a struggle for me. I spent the first few weeks grappling with the definition of globalization itself- I couldn’t exactly wrap my head around the enormity of the concept and found myself getting intimidated and bogged down by the strong economic connotations I was perceiving (http://emilyhumberson.umwblogs.org/2011/09/01/hello-world/). Some of my first exposure to the concept was through reading Friedman’s The Lexus and the Olive Tree. Friedman for me was a bit mundane and too economically focused; I tend to have difficulty wrapping my head around economics in general and applying the concepts to the new idea of globalization was definitely a challenge. After completing the book and establishing the class definition of globalization, “the increase in interactions between people around the world that involves the sharing of ideas, goods, cultures, and businesses”, I felt better prepared to approach the topic. I look at these two things as the first steps in this course- they were my starting points for this semester-long trek through the causes, effects, and various dynamics of globalization.

Once I had a thin foundation to work off of in terms of globalization’s definition, I found myself more enthusiastic about the course’s direction and content. I was able to move beyond the standard class definition and give thought to my own opinions about what globalization as a whole means (http://emilyhumberson.umwblogs.org/2011/09/05/what-globalization-means-to-me/). Compared to my earlier posts (such as my first one: http://emilyhumberson.umwblogs.org/2011/09/01/6/) I was already gaining confidence in expressing my thoughts. I saw globalization as a unifying force driven by society itself and society’s focus on technology, efficiency, and integration. Beyond simply identifying what globalization is and giving it a “face”, I began thinking critically concerning the topic. In my questions post I explored the topics that I found crucial to globalization (http://emilyhumberson.umwblogs.org/2011/09/13/questions/), applying the general idea to real life and probing as to its consequences. Globalization had started to seep into my everyday conscious- I found myself identifying it everywhere from the music I like to my favorite websites (http://emilyhumberson.umwblogs.org/2011/09/18/now-that-i-know/). By the time midterms rolled around I was moving beyond definitions and questions and beginning to apply globalization to larger concepts such as language and topics being discussed in my classes (http://emilyhumberson.umwblogs.org/2011/10/01/patois-and-language/), (http://emilyhumberson.umwblogs.org/2011/10/12/global-responsibility/).  Overall, up until midterms I saw a pretty fast transformation in my thinking about globalization; I went from grappling with the basic definition to finding parallels between the concept of globalization and my everyday life. Class discussions played a large part in not only encouraging me to think more deeply about globalization but also in providing a forum in which I could develop my thoughts. Throughout the first half of the semester I essentially used my blog as an outlet to map my progress from understanding globalization to identifying it in real-life context.

As the second half of the semester played out I felt as if we were truly beginning to explore topics I was interested in. Economics and politics have never been my strong point, so to move into culture and environment was really exciting. My primary interests have always been in the humanities, and to apply these topics to globalization was incredibly intriguing. Being able to explore issues I was interested in lead to much more in-depth posts on my blog. I began to wonder about the causes of globalization and if it was accurate to lay blame for undesirable phenomena on globalization itself (http://emilyhumberson.umwblogs.org/2011/10/19/so-whos-to-blame/). When it came to the environment I found myself doing research on my own time; the information and statistics presented in class were so astounding they pushed me to seek out more information on my own. I found the modern levels of destruction to the environment appalling and I definitely utilized this blog as a platform to speak out about the environment and to theorize solutions (http://emilyhumberson.umwblogs.org/2011/11/23/59/  and http://emilyhumberson.umwblogs.org/2011/12/01/this-drives-me-crazy/). Beyond exploring culture and discussing the environment, in the second half of the semester I also wrapped up my ideas about globalization as a whole. I’m aware that globalization is an immensely broad topic and there is no way to study completely all of its many facets and elements, but I felt at the end of the course I needed to bring together the thoughts I’d gathered throughout the seminar. Through “looking at the big picture” (http://emilyhumberson.umwblogs.org/2011/11/29/looking-at-the-big-picture/) and “cultural capital, and what’s left of it” (http://emilyhumberson.umwblogs.org/2011/12/05/cultural-capital-and-whats-left-of-it/) I attempted to summarize some final thoughts on globalization. Overall, throughout the second half of the semester I feel that I truly hit my stride in terms of deeply exploring topics I was interested in and forming my own ideas about globalization and its magnitude.

Overall, this course has helped me to build not only an understanding of globalization but also to develop skills in blogging, communication, and articulating my thoughts. I came into the course with little to no knowledge of globalization, and now I see it as a force that integrates elements of life across the world with emphasis on ideas such as efficiency, technology, and the power of the individual. Throughout the semester I was able to track the progress of my learning through my blog. I went from being lost on the definition of globalization to connecting it to larger concepts such as culture and the environment. Our in-class discussions provided an open-ended forum in which we could all share thoughts, previous knowledge, and experiences in order to gain a broader understanding of globalization. I feel that my time spent in this course was incredibly productive and that I am walking away with not only a stronger handle on the concept of globalization but sharper skills in other areas of life as well.

cultural capital, and what’s left of it

December 5th, 2011


While I can see to a degree the point that cartoons like these are trying to make, the gist ultimately seems silly. If you don’t want Niketown to pop up in Paris, or a Disney Store to take prominence in London, simply don’t patronize these places. The concept seems simple enough- if we want to maintain cultural capital (non-financial social assets) in important historical places abroad, we have the ability to do so. Businesses succeed or fail depending on whether or not they gain enough profit, and if people refuse to patronize major corporations in culturally significant places then those businesses will ultimately fail. But what seems to be trending is MORE adoption of these prominent businesses, in which we have no room to complain. While globalization IS a big force and at times it DOES seem to be larger than all of us, it is important to keep in mind that we as human beings are the ones driving the direction in which we are headed. It is easy enough to sit back and blame unsavory changes in our society on globalization- but it’s incredibly important to keep in mind who fostered these changes in the first place.

 

this drives me CRAZY

December 1st, 2011

feel to free to check out the following link:
http://www.science-sc.com/2010/11/surface-area-required-to-power-whole.html

According to this, it would only require 496,805 square kilometers to power the entire world with solar panels alone. Sure, it will be expensive. Sure, there will be issues in getting countries to comply and working out the distribution of power. But it seems that the global mentality is to a let problem get bad enough that you have no choice but to change it (great example: the air clean-up in Beijing for the olympics). We often seem to forget somehow, even through all our supposed connectedness and integration, that we are all human. Most countries let their desire for land, power, and money get in their way of working together, and the US is no exception. It seems so ridiculous to me that we are burning fossil fuels, ripping the tops off of mountains, and submitting our environment to extreme degradation to accomplish something that could be achieved with solar panels. This is beyond laziness, this is beyond ignorance: this is blatant disregard for a problem staring us directly in the face. Most of the time I try and accept society’s faults for what they are- we’re human and we can’t be perfect. But things like this are incredibly disheartening. Wake up, Earth!

 

 

 

 

 

looking at the big picture

November 29th, 2011

It’s crazy to me that we’ve already covered all the topics we set out to in the beginning of the semester. The list of questions about globalization seemed long and daunting but it’s almost as if we covered them in no time. Now I feel like we have a puzzle-piece view of this thing. It’s hard to step back and look at your entire lifestyle and put a name on it. There are so many different factors that play into globalization that it sometimes feels like the class should be titled “How It Is” or “Where We’re Going”. Overall these discussions have definitely developed my perception of globalization– but in the end my initial inklings were right. It is still the overall integration of aspects of life across the world- but talking about it on a political, environmental, and cultural level has really brought more definition to the whole picture for me.

Honestly I can’t look at globalization as anything other than something positive. There are certainly destructive elements (damage being done to the environment, jobs being outsourced), but I think that’s part of the learning curve of moving into a new era. If I’ve learned anything from our past few discussions it’s that adaptation is absolutely vital to globalization’s success. The world is moving faster and faster the more we develop, and those that don’t adapt will find themselves left behind. Not only is adapting to the system important, but learning how to adapt to help the system is important as well. We need to consciously conserve the environment and find ways to keep our own citizens employed if we hope to remain as powerful as a country as we currently are.

It seems that a lot of the time in class we couldn’t agree on many things concerning globalization- but that’s part of the point. We’re all being brought together as a globe, and people are going to have different opinions on the outcomes of that movement. But it’s important to discuss, to observe the changes we’ve been going through as opposed to sitting back and watching everything fly by.

protecting the environment

November 23rd, 2011

I’ve been fortunate enough to grow up along the scenic Potomac river. Summer afternoons spent jumping from rope swings, fishing, and swimming are beyond typical. Over the years though the river has definitely become increasingly polluted. I have friends who can’t swim in the river because it makes their skin break out, and science fair projects concerning the river’s quality are incredibly common. According to this ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/11/AR2008111101148.html) Washington Post article, the pollution is only worsening due mostly to runoff from surrounding areas. It seems that everyone has an example of pollution affecting the environment around their home. I personally think this is one of the most glaring examples of our irresponsibility as a whole when it comes to globalization.

It has long been clear that globalization and the forces that come with it have intense abilities. Our technological advancements in the past ten years alone have surpassed what many people thought possible. We are now able to communicate, conduct business, and produce products at incredible rates. With this incredible rate of production and consumption, however, comes more responsibility. We have developed destructive powers, and part of development should be focused on harnessing potential negative effects of  our advancements. Updating legislation to match the swiftness with which technology changes and adapts is something that has been clearly overlooked- since our outdated environmental laws cannot seem to keep up with the times. We’ve clearly become focused on progress to the point that we are willing to overlook the damage happening to the environment worldwide as a result.

Ultimately, we can sit around tables and talk about globalization’s effect on the environment for days, but it ultimately comes down to this: we’ve moved into a different era and forgotten our responsibility of protecting our home. With our developments in technology it has become commonplace to abuse the environment so long as we can make financial gains. We can point fingers at globalization and blame its integration for the worldwide degradation that seems to be occurring, but we are all ultimately responsible. I think it is human nature to let a problem continue until it cannot be ignored, and with the current rates of environmental pollution it seems we are quickly headed in that direction. It’s time to take responsibility, put conservation efforts into effect even if it harms large corporations, and protect the Earth even as technology advances.

globalization and the environment

November 14th, 2011

I think this topic is going to be really interesting! Unlike politics and culture, the environment is much easier to be objective about so I think we’ll actually be able to really look at its effects from a common standpoint. I’m curious as to how the expanded market in combination with technology has brought about effect. As in, now that some countries are making more money because they can sell to broader locations, and they have the technology to manufacture faster, how fast are resources being depleted? I feel as if the technologies we not only have for manufacturing but for gathering natural resources are so advanced that the environment is having a difficult time “keeping up”. I’m also interested in the expansion of large multinational corporations and how they are individually affecting the environment. I think that the BP Oil spill will be a really big example of the destruction that can occur with that kind of power. Overall I’m very interested in the link between the rapid consumerism that comes with globalization and the damage done to the environment.

Politicians Utilizing Globalization

November 1st, 2011


Obama’s speech on globalization

“There’s nothing to fear from globalism, free trade and a single worldwide currency…. The effort in recent decades to unify government surveillance over all world trade and international financial transactions through the UN, IMF, World Bank, WTO, ICC, the OECD, and the Bank of International Settlements can never substitute for a peaceful world based on true free trade, freedom of movement, a single but sound market currency, and voluntary contracts with private property rights…. The ultimate solution will only come with the rejection of fiat money worldwide, and a restoration of commodity money. Commodity money if voluntarily and universally accepted could give us a single world currency requiring no money managers, no manipulators orchestrating a man-made business cycle with rampant price inflation.” — Ron Paul, Congressional Record, March 13, 2001

sorting out thoughts on culture

October 27th, 2011

I went into the last few classes with the initial mindset that globalization was harming culture across the world. The fact that London reminded me strongly of New York City and that you can find McDonald’s restauraunts around the world was somehow alarming. The idea that languages are dying out at a rapid rate is still difficult to swallow. But what is it exactly that we’re afraid of? It seems as if most of the change we’re truly intimidated by has been brought about by big business– namely food companies, movie producers, and other media elements. Other cultural change, however, has been looked upon positively. As we brought up in class, having a Thai restaurant down the street has been viewed as a good thing. Being able to make friends in China through social networking facets and having the ability to practice a foreign language with a native speaker through a simple phone call or internet chat could be considered remarkable. It’s difficult to put myself in the shoes of someone across the world and see their standpoint since I’ve always lived in what could be considered the “dominant culture”. I’m still forming my stance on culture in relation to globalization- but i’m glad i chose a question concerning it for the expert study. Culture is such a multi-faceted element that it’s going to be difficult to pinpoint how it has diffused and if the effects could be considered positive or negative. Personally at this point I feel that globalization may be giving big businesses an upper hand in spreading their products worldwide and many of us may interpret this as a diffusion of culture. I think there are probably two levels– the big business diffusion of products that is taken at face-value as culture, and the diffusion of deeper cultural elements such as language, values, and ideals.

…so who’s to blame?

October 19th, 2011

I’m currently taking an intro to Sociology course (The Social World) , and my textbook often references globalization in relation to Sociology. The first time it’s brought up in the text is the standard introduction– globalization as the continual integration of many elements of life across the world (primarily facilitated by advancements in technology). However, later in the chapters, globalization seems to be portrayed in a somewhat negative light. A discussion about the spread of dominant American culture and the inequality of wealth across the world both cite globalization as a primary cause for these undesirable phenomenons. It seems that people often lay blame on globalization for many modern problems- whether it be unequal wealth distribution, destruction of the environment, mass integration of culture, or a variety of other complaints.

While many people often “lay blame” on globalization (citing it as the catalyst for vast ecological, cultural, and economic issues), who are they exactly blaming? One of the ambiguities of the globalization phenomenon is whether it’s run by a distinct force or if it is simply a system that has evolved out of a time period characterized by technology and innovation. When we lay blame on globalization, aren’t we somewhat blaming ourselves? In my opinion, no one is “running” globalization. It is our own product- we fueled and encouraged it through technological advancements and the desire to communicate, travel, and conduct business faster. The funny thing about globalization, however, is that now it has grown to a size where it cannot be avoided. Countries may try to opt out of the mass integration happening across the globe, but to do so would set themselves back in many aspects.

Ultimately, for me globalization currently draws up an image of a creature (whether or not that creature is a monster is a personal opinion) that has grown out of control. It started as something we nurtured and encouraged, but now it has grown to a proportion in which we no longer can manipulate it as easily. Globalization is rapidly expanding and changing the makeshift of many aspects of our society (most recently backed up in the article Jihad v. McWorld), but we (as world citizens) were the ones who initially fostered its development. To single out a group of people or a single element that “caused” globalization would be nearly impossible, it seems to be the product of many efforts across the globe throughout past decades combined into a singular force. Whether or not you find the products of globalization undesirable, to lay blame on globalization itself seems to be the same thing as laying blame upon humanity as a whole. If we continue to let globalization dominate our lives, it seems fruitless to point fingers for something we may have very well brought upon ourselves.

midterm reflection

October 14th, 2011

          I distinctly remember signing up for this class above all others. It was a summer morning and I had set my alarm in the beach house my family was staying to get up early enough to register on time. Curled up at the counter still in my pajamas, sitting next to my mom and anxiously munching pita chips, I was ready to get this over with. 9:00 AM finally rolled around and  Eaglenet seized up almost immediately. After finally accessing the website I began to choose my classes. My first FESM choice: Banned and Dangerous Art. I entered the code but upon adding, it was full. My second choice, Ethics and Literature. The same process. At this point the FSEM choices were all unfamiliar– I found a title that jumped out at me: “GLOBL: Panacea or Deal with the Devil?” and selected it. My schedule was complete. I breathed a sigh of relief, shut my laptop, and went to get ready for the beach (it was summer, after all).

          Later that night I explored my courses and looked up professors. I realized I had absolutely no idea what “GLOBL: Panacea or Deal with the Devil” actually meant. A quick post on the Mary Washington facebook page yielded some answers: that this was a freshman seminar on “globalization”. The word itself  was completely foreign to me at the time. I googled globalization, asked around,  and gained a very vague idea of what it meant (but for the most part I was fairly clueless). Ultimately my first impression of globalization was that it had something to do with our “world growing smaller” and was fairly limited to the business/monetary aspects of our world. I was excited at the process of learning about a completely new topic, but daunted by the intimidating word “economics”.

           Throughout the course thus far I’ve gained a greater understanding on many of globalization’s elements. It began with understanding what globalization actually meant, and slowly over time I’ve been able to apply it to my everyday life ( a little more than i’d care to admit!)  while gaining understanding of its potential implications. To be honest the definition portion of the learning process took me a while. The book I chose to read was Thomas Friedman’s The Lexus and the Olive Tree, and in the beginning I felt bogged down in his elevated style. But through class discussion and persistence with the book, I slowly was able to mold my own ideas about what globalization meant. To me it seemed odd that this phenomenon is present around us at all times but is difficult to define– it seems to be a force (overpowering or underlying depending on personal opinion) that means different things to different people. It is an idea so (relatively) recently expressed that people are still in the process shaping and molding its definition– and I felt that the beginning of this class was devoted to exploring the aspects of different opinions and forming our own conclusions.

         Using our group consensus- that ” Globalization is the increase in interactions between people around the world that involves the sharing of ideas, goods, cultures, and businesses” as a foundation, I’ve gradually been able to build a stronger understanding of the concept as a whole. The best indicator for my growth throughout the class is certainly my blog. In my first few posts, (http://emilyhumberson.umwblogs.org/2011/09/01/6/, and http://emilyhumberson.umwblogs.org/2011/09/01/hello-world/) I could barely wrap my head around the idea of globalization. I could make loose connections but I was tentative and unsure. I tried to apply the concept to things I was familiar with, such as music. I made vague guesses and attempted to comprehend what felt like a giant idea. I felt like I was vaguely gaining understanding, but still needed to fill in major details. Later in the blog ( http://emilyhumberson.umwblogs.org/2011/09/11/globalization-personal-defintion/) I was able to articulate my own impression of globalization and convey the idea to others. I felt that I was finally forming a personal opinion on the topic and gaining a greater handle on the definition itself. Lately I feel that I’ve been able to take things one step beyond the definition and apply the concept not only to my life, but to world issues in general (http://emilyhumberson.umwblogs.org/2011/10/01/patois-and-language/ and http://emilyhumberson.umwblogs.org/2011/10/12/global-responsibility/). In the beginning of this class I was struggling to make the connection between the idea of globalization and its application to everyday life- but today globalization seems to pop up from hour to hour whether or not I’m looking for it. I often find myself sitting in class (such as my Global Issues In Lit class or my Sociology class) and mulling over the concepts discussed in relation to globalization. Further understanding of globalization has given me a broader scope by which to apply ideas, and has helped me to forge many links between everyday life and this large phenomenon occurring worldwide. I doubt that at this point in time I could teach globalization to someone, but for me the application to real-life scenarios has been a major accomplishment.

          While this may not speak directly to the content taught, globalization has also helped me to be bolder in a classroom setting. I often am active in class discussions, but only when I’m confident with the material. Through this seminar I feel as if I’ve become less afraid to speak up and voice my ideas, even if I’m not completely sure about the topic I’m speaking on. The non-judgmental setting has opened up the boundaries of discussion further than I’m used to and helped me to be more comfortable speaking on a topic even when I may be somewhat off-base. While in the beginning of the course I felt more timid speaking on something I knew very a little about (like globalization), today I am less afraid to ask questions and raise ideas even if I’m unsure of their legitimacy. We’ve recently been discussing the topic of economics in relation to globalization and I’ve often found myself asking questions that in the beginning of the year I would have easily kept to myself. Globalization has definitely given me a new confidence and curiosity when it comes to class discussion and unfamiliar topics.

         Ultimately, I feel like I’ve grown significantly through this course in a small period of a time.  I came in unsure of what globalization even meant, but throughout this half-semester I’ve developed a personal definition, become more outspoken in class, and gained the capability to apply my definition to everyday life. I feel that on a daily basis I am able to think more critically about globalization and process its effects in our country and throughout the world. Through Thomas Friedman’s book, Professor Greenlaw’s notes, movies like Outsourced, and class insight I’ve built a strong foundation for learning this topic. I’m happy with my progress thus far and incredibly excited to follow this course into topics that I have a strong passion for, such as culture.


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