Back to Main Entry

Reviews of Human Drama, Volume IV: From 1900 to the Present

Teaching Suggestions and Lesson plans for Volume Four:
1900 to the Present

The content in this fourth volume builds on what has gone in the earlier volumes. Even though students may have already studies the earlier volumes, you may wish to review the major patterns that structured the first three volumes.

This final volume of The Human Drama focuses on the Twentieth Century, arguably the era that witnessed more accelerated changes than in any previous time.  The Twentieth Century was also the bloodiest century in world history as a result of the development of the most deadly weapons in history and also from the creation of nearly 200 nation-states.

The twentieth century the world was rapidly being brought into an ever broadening network of trade, exchanges and communication. However, within this interlocking system only a few industrialized states controlled most of the world’s wealth while the colonized peoples grew poorer.

I In the first half of the twentieth century nationalism will lead to a fierce completion among the powerful European states and the international system will be tested by the arrival of new nation states and world powers: The United States, Japan, Italy and Germany.  The competition among these states will lead to two major wars that will cause mass destruction in many parts of the world.

In this volume we introduce decolonization, the final pattern of this study of world history. As the colonized people in Asia and Africa seek independence, most of them will opt to become nation-states, underscoring the power of nationalism in the modern world.

The twentieth century will also usher in radical new scientific discoveries that will change the way people believe and think. Writers and artists from many areas of the world will integrate new world views into their artistic products, and social scientists will pose new interpretations of reality.  These insights will cause many people to challenge the existing faith in rationalism and progress and introduce the “age of anxiety.”  The instability of the world will find its counterpart in the new quantum physics that proposes a world of constant change and uncertainty.

                       Volume Four,  Act One: The World in Disorder


Act One focuses on the competition for supremacy among the new industrialized nation states and their quest to find order and stability within the international system. Failing to create institutions that could regulate national competition, the nation states resort to a series of somewhat unstable alliances based on their own perceived national interests.

International competition is all the more lethal as new industrial development provides ever more deadly weapons used to kill millions of soldiers and civilians. The race for military supremacy will bring untold profits to the manufactures of these weapons and at times turn entire national economies into war machines. With the development of the atomic and nuclear weapons that can destroy whole cities with a single bomb, public opinion and political leaders will seek to create new international political and economic institutions with the hope of regulating national competition and ever increasing bloody wars.

Teaching Strategy: Divide the class into two groups. Have one group draw and label the political map of the world in 1900. Have the other group indicate where the major ethnic groups are situated on a 1900 map of the world.  Have the students research, discuss and compare the aims of the political leaders of the various ethnic groups in the political map.  Compare the two maps and the various alliances that are formed.  Identify the Allied Powers, the Central Powers and the Neutral Powers that were involved in WW I.  What were the goals of each group?


  1. How did rising nationalism affect the many minorities living in the powerful nation-states?
  2. Why were the Balkan states so unstable after the demise of the Ottoman Empire?
  3. How did the unification and rise of Germany as a nation-state affect the balance of power?
  4. How did the authoritarian rule of Russian Czars lead to revolts and revolution?
  5. What rivals to British power developed in the first decade of the 20th century?
  6. How did the development of alliances affect European stability?
  7. How did misconceptions and misunderstandings contribute to the outbreak of World War I?
  8. Why did the early plans for a quick victory dissolve into a long stalemate of trench warfare?
  9. Why were there so many casualties in World War I?
  10. How did the entry of the United States into World War change the balance? What were the long term results of this changing balance?
  11. What factors made it difficult to create a satisfactory treaty at the end of WW I? What role did secret agreements made during the war play in the peace process?
  12. How did the Versailles Treaty differ from Wilson’s and Lord Keynes’ plans for peace?
  13. What policies did most nation-states follow after World War I?
  14. What were the major critiques of capitalism leveled by the Socialists and Communists?
  15. How did the Russian Revolution change the face of Europe?
  16. Evaluate the success of Stalin’s efforts to industrialize the Soviet Union.
  17. In what ways was the Chinese Revolution different from the Russian Revolution?
  18. Why was Mao successful?

Additional Teaching Aids:

See “Mao and Gandhi: Two Paths to Independence and Economic Growth,”  Center for History, University of California at Los Angeles.

Act II: Colonial Nationalism, 1900-1945


Most of the colonial powers believed that their subjects were racially inferior and not capable of self rule. Yet, in spite of this prejudice people in these colonies chaffed under foreign rule and began to see themselves as members of nations. As they “imagined” their common past and began to think about a shared future, nationalist leaders sought ways to include the many ethnic and religious groups within their borders. The various nationalist movements also had to decide on the best strategies to gain independence. Some chose violent resistance and others opted for non violent public protests.

The colonial nationalist movements gained momentum after World War I when President Wilson called for an international organization to manage disputes and for the self determination of people. Although Wilson meant self determination for Europeans only, his words sparked nationalist opposition in Asia and Africa.

Teaching Strategy for comparing the attitudes and goals of the colonial rulers and colonial subjects. As you introduce this lesson, explain the strategy of “divide and rule” that colonial powers tried to use to control their colonial subjects. Have your student evaluate the effectiveness of this strategy from the viewpoint of both the ruling powers and the colonies.

Assign students to pick a colonial area and decide whether they want to represent its ruling colonial power or the attitudes of its colonial subjects.  Then, either individually or working in small groups, assign students to write a brief history of their country or their colonial power. Remember their suggestions should reflect the values of either one of the colonial powers or one of the “native” leaders. What events will they celebrate?  What goals will they stress for their country?  What steps do they think their country must take to achieve their goals?

Now ask students to compare the events their group celebrated and the steps it hopes to take with the goals and plans of the other group. On what issues did everyone agree?  On what issues did they disagree? What do you think will be the next steps the leaders in your country should try to take?


  1. What challenges did the colonized people face in forming genuine nation-states?
  2. What strategies did nationalist leaders employ in their various movements?
  3. How did Wilson’s public statements energize the colonial nationalist movements?
  4. How and why did Great Britain “de-industrialize” India?
  5. What evidence do we have that famines are often the result of political decisions?
  6. What were the various nationalist ideas offered by Indian leaders and how did Gandhi attempt to merge these ideas into his own philosophy?
  7. What new forms of resistance did Gandhi introduce into the Indian nationalist struggle?
  8. How did Dutch and French colonial policies lead to resistance in Indonesia and Vietnam?
  9. How did the introduction of capitalist free markets affect Indonesia and Vietnam?
  10. What were the Japanese policies in colonizing Korea?
  11. What strategies were followed by the Koran nationalist leaders?
  12. How did the creation of “Mandates” in West Asia undermine the development of nation-states in the region?
  13. How did British policies lead to confusion in Palestine?
  14. How did Turkey emerge as a nation-state?
  15. How did Great Britain manipulate Egyptian nationalism?
  16. Which states in West Asia had the most homogenous populations and which were more patch work states?
  17. How did this creation of states play out in modern history?

Additional teaching suggestions

Additional lessons about the role and importance of Gandhi and Mao can be found in “Mao and Gandhi  Alternative Paths to National Independence and Social Change.“ (National Center for History in the Schools. Dept of History. University of California. 5262 Bunche Hall. Los Angeles, CA  90095-1473.  Note especially Lesson IV: A Comparison of Mao’s and Gandhi’s Approaches to Development,” “Mao and Gandhi’s Views on the Distribution of Wealth and their Attitudes toward the Rich,” and “Application of Gandhi’s and Mao’s Approaches to Reform.”

Additional lessons about colonial and nationalism can be found in “India: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives” The Asia Society. Note especially Unit Five: Governance and Power” and Unit Seven “India in World History: Production and Global Exchange.”

Act III: The Era of Disillusion, Depression, and War


By 1900, Europe, the United States and Japan were the major industrial powers in the world. These nations controlled the politics and economics of the world and controlled colonies many times their own size. Yet, these great powers could not agree on a viable international system or common economic policy. After World War I, many citizens of these nations began to question the optimistic values of the Enlightenment such as rationalism, democracy and progress. At the same time new scientific discoveries contributed to the decline of these values and added to the uncertainties that an increasing number of people felt.

The loss of faith in old values, together with many new technological developments helped fostered the rise of new forms of totalitarianism and the growth of communist parties.  The increasing competition and absence of global institutions led to a world wide depression and a second world war, the bloodiest conflict in human history. By 1945 much of the world had suffered from massive destruction of cities and human life.

Teaching Strategies: Describe the general sense of unease and uncertainty that followed WW I. How did new scientific discoveries and theories contribute to this uncertainty?  How did insights about the “unconscious” contribute to this uncertainty and to irrationality?  How did new insights about cultural relativism challenge European’s and American’s long standing belief in Western cultural superiority? Identify how ideas and artistic creations began to influence people in many different areas of the world.

Act Three focuses on historic events that some of the older members of your students’ families may have experienced.  Encourage your students to interview family members or older family friends or neighbors about the Depression and World War Two. Your classes might create a set of questions to ask about this period of history and then compare the answers they get with other members of the class. If some of the answers disagree, have the students discuss how they will determine which answers are correct.


  1. What factors combined to undermine rationalism, democracy and progress?
  2. How did more intensive contact with colonized people lead to changes in the people of the powerful nation states?
  3. How did the teaching of “Western Civilization” help shape public opinion in the major world powers?
  4. How did the new scientific discoveries help shape a new world view?
  5. How did the economic policies of the industrial nations help bring on the Great Depression?
  6. How did the Great Depression affect the new political challenges to democracy?
  7. What values and policies did Hitler preach? Identify the events that contributed to the spread of Hitler’s power and of Fascism in Europe.
  8. Why did the Weimar Republic fail?
  9. Why did Spain and Italy end up as Fascist states?
  10. Why did many Latin American nations embrace forms of Fascism in the 1930s?
  11. How did Japan become an authoritarian state in the 1930s?
  12. What steps did Hitler take in the late 1930s to indicate he could not be stopped?
  13. Why do you think the other European powers did little to stop Hitler’s first successes?
  14. What explains the sudden collapse of France?
  15. Why was Stalingrad a decisive turning point in World War II?
  16. How did Japan underestimate the American reaction to Pearl Harbor?
  17. Why did the United States send most of its forces to the European theater after Pearl Harbor?
  18. Why did the allies ultimately prevail against Germany?
  19. How did the use of Atomic bombs change military history?

Additional Teaching Aids:

On the Internet, World History for Us All, Unit 8.2, The search for peace and stability in the 20s and 30s, Unit 8.3, The Great Depression and  8.5, The causes and consequences of World War II


Act Four: The Cold War Era: Rebuilding and Re-ordering
the World, 1945-1960


1945 marks a major transition in modern world history. After two devastating wars and one of the worst economic crises, Europe, China and Japan lay in ruins; many of their cities had been destroyed by constant bombing. Moreover, many war torn nations were deeply in debt and the world’s people faced a new age of “Nuclear warfare.”

Amidst the armed struggle among the industrialized nations, the colonized people mounted strong nationalist movements that threatened to end the age of maritime empires. In 1945 the United States alone emerged from the conflict relatively undamaged. No bombs or invasions had decimated American soil and the war with its accompanying national debt of almost 120 percent of GNP had actually raised the US economy out of the lingering great depression.

European recovery, the Chinese Revolution, the rise of American power and decolonization are major features of this act and we introduce our last historic pattern “decolonization.” Decolonizaton refers to the ending of colonialism and the creation of many new nation-states out of the former colonized areas. This dramatic triumph of the various nationalist movements took place after 1945 throughout the colonized world and meant that he industrialized nations no longer controlled hundreds of millions of people in Africa and Asia. Decolonization traces the various paths different counties took to achieve independence and to form the type of government they wanted. Among the possible forms of government the newly independent  nations formed  were democratic politics, communist centralism, free market capitalism, socialist, with state ownership of large industries and financial institutions,  or various combinations of several of these economic and political structures. Many of the newly independent nations chose some form of military dictatorship, while a few others opted for democracy. This act also examines neocolonialism, where an outside power continues to exert influence or even to control the country’s political and economic affairs, which was often the reality in Africa and Latin America.

Teaching Strategies

Identifying the Nations: Start with a large 1945 world map that indicates the political boundaries of the nations in the world in 1945. Now cover that map with a clear transparent (plastic) sheet. Assign each student one or more of the new nations created since 1945 and have each student draw the boundaries of his or her nation on the new transparent sheet. You might also have want to have a plastic overlay that indicates some of the various shifting alliances.

About the United Nations: If time permits, you may want to stage a meeting of the United Nations with your class. Different students can role play representative from different countries. Possible contemporary issues that may come before the UN in 2012 are the number and composition of the nations on the Security Council.

About Nuclear and Terrorist Attacks: Assign students to compare the efforts people made to protect themselves from nuclear attacks such as “duck and cover” exercises in classrooms or building back yard bomb shelters with recent efforts to protect themselves for possible terrorist attacks. Have students debate whether any kind of protection is possible.


  1. How did the treatment of the defeated nations Japan and Germany differ from the victors’ approach after World War I?
  2. How did “Gambaru” help Japan to recover quickly?
  3. How was the political settlement for Germany different from the Japanese occupation?
  4. How did the Soviet policy in Germany pose problems for German reconstruction?
  5. How did the movement of populations after 1945 change the landscape of Europe?
  6. Why did Britain and France experience many changes in their ruling governments?
  7. How did the protests movements in Eastern Europe affect the Soviet policy there?
  8. How did the fear of the Soviet Union stimulate fear in American politics?
  9. How did the victorious allies move to create an international system of peace keeping?
  10. What have been the limitations of United Nations powers?
  11. How did the dropping of the Iron Curtain change world politics?
  12. How did the “Truman Doctrine” change the world balance of power?
  13. How did the Marshal Plan change the balance of the Cold War?
  14. What was the purpose of NATO?
  15. What were the causes of the Korean Conflict?
  16. How did Eisenhower’s policy change the balance of power?
  17. How did the major powers seek to control the spread of nuclear weapons?
  18. How did the Cuban Missile Crisis affect world opinion about the nuclear threat?
  19. How did Europe move to a more cooperative arrangement after the War; how effective has the European Union been?
  20. What obstacles did the newly independent nations face?
  21. How has the separation of India and Pakistan affected politics in South Asia?
  22. How did the cold war affect politics in South Asia?
  23. What led to the Israeli Palestine conflict?
  24. How did French and Dutch colonial policy differ from Great Britain’s?
  25. What were the reasons for Vietnam embracing a Communist policy?
  26. How successful was American policy in Vietnam?
  27. How did Indonesian foreign policy differ from that of Vietnam?
  28. How did Cold War politics affect the newly independent nations?

Additional Teaching Aids

On the internet, World History for Us All, Big Era 8, Unit 8.4, nationalism in India, Vietnam, Korea and Kenya. Also see Through India Eyes,  Fifth Edition. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Act Five: Patterns of Development 1950-1990


Once the numerous new nations had been formed, their leaders had to decide what type of government and economic system they would adapt so as to enhance their nation’s prosperity, security and power of their nation. The major options were Marxist-Leninist Communism, Free-Market Capitalism, and Mixed Economic and Social Development.

Not only did the newly independent nations have to deal with integrating the various ethnic and religious groups within their borders, they faced major decisions on which policies to implement so they could catch up with the highly industrialized states. This process was accelerated as many new nations in Africa gained their independence from European rule.

There were several possible choices. Several states will choose to follow the Soviet Union’s example and opt for a planned economy that a totalitarian political party oversees. Others chose free market policies while still others sought to combine the features of central planning with a free market.

Teaching Strategies: Once your students are able to identify the major characteristics of all three of these approaches to development, it is important for them to analyze and appreciate how and why specific conditions in the various nations made these strategies appealing or not.  Assign individual students or small groups of students one (or more) nation and have them research which strategy their nation chose to follow and why. You may then decide to stage a general debate about the various merits of the three systems.

You may want to have your students try to assess how important national leaders have been in the independence and development efforts in their countries. Leaders to consider might include Joseph Stalin, Leonid Brezhnev, and Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union; Chiang Kai-shek, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping in the People’s Republic of China; Eisenhower, Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson in the USA; Syngman Rhee in the Republic of Korea – South Korea;  Kim Jong-il in North Korea, Sukarno and Suharto in Indonesia; Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam; Jawaharlal Nehru, and Indira Gandhi in India.  Margaret Thatcher in Britain; Charles de Gaulle and Francois Mitterrand in France.  Fredinand Marcos in the Philippines.  Chiang kai Shek in Taiwan.

We often divide nations between those that are developed and those that are under developed or developing.” In this exercise, assign areas in your city or state to individual students or small groups of students and have them assess if these areas are “developed” or “under-developed.” Have then share and discuss their conclusions.

Along with your consideration of the European welfare state, you may want to raise the whole concept of a welfare state and the government’s role/responsibility as it relates to welfare. To what extent or how should government ensure or protect the welfare of its citizens? What is the balance between the individual desire for inde­pendence and the “work ethic”? What happens to people who “fall through the cracks” economically? Who should take care of them?



  1. What were the factors that led large agricultural societies to choose communist models of development?
  2. Why was Mao’s revolutionary movement able to defeat Chiang kai shek’s Kuomintang?
  3. Evaluate Mao’s “Great Leap Forward.”
  4. How did China’s massive collectivization of farm land affect the production of food?
  5. How did Mao’s philosophy of development clash with Deng Xiaping’s policies?
  6. What did Mao hope to accomplish with the “Cultural Revolution?”
  7. How did Deng’s Four Modernizations differ from Mao’s approach?
  8. What were the consequences of the Borbachev reforms after 1985?
  9. What helps explain the American economic successes from 1945 to 1970?
  10. What was peculiar about the economic crisis of the 1970s?
  11. What are the basic differences between the Keynesian model and the “neoclassical” model of economic development?
  12. What factors help explain Japan’s economic rise after 1945?
  13. What factors led to the rise of the “East Asian Tigers?”
  14. What factors explain Korea’s dramatic economic development?
  15. How did the East Asian free market economies struggle to introduce and maintain forms of democratic government?
  16. How did India attempt to follow a “mixed economy” after 1947?
  17. Evaluate the Nehru policies of economic development.
  18. How did India manage to expand its democratic system?
  19. How did the democratic European states try to preserve democracy, free market capitalism and welfare for all citizens?
  20. Why did the European democracies rethink their welfare systems after 1970?
  21. If you were asked to develop a viable economic policy for the United States, what features of the various world models would you draw upon?

Additional Teaching Aids.

On the Internet: World History for Us All, Big Era 9, Unit 9.1, The World Economy After World War II, and Unit 9.4, Wealth and Poverty Since 1950.


Act Six: A New World Order


The long era of Cold War politics came crashing down in 1989 when the Soviet Union collapsed. In the aftermath of this event several former Soviet satellite nation-states joined the world system and caused the major world powers to seek new alignments and systems of cooperation.

The drastically changed world economic and political systems posed major challenges for all the world’s people and challenged the supremacy of Europe and the United States. Clearly, the older alliance systems dominated by the powerful industrial states, particularly the United States, were not well equipped to deal with the shifting centers of power. Additionally, the rekindled rivalry among ethnic groups in various Soviet controlled states will lead to outbreaks of violence and wars, especially in the Balkan states.

Beyond the new challenges ushered in by the collapse of the Soviet empire, some of the newly freed states in Asia entered an era of rapid industrialization and economic growth further challenging the economic supremacy of Europe and the United States. The increasing completion from Asian economies also challenged the welfare systems in Europe and the Unted States as cheap labor led to the export of manufacturing from the old industrial states.

With China, Russia and the former Soviet Satellite states joining the expanding global economic system, peoples’ lives everywhere will dramatically change in fundamental ways.

Teaching Strategies: Distribute a list of the nations created since the disintegration of the Soviet Union.  Assign students to research information about their nation such as the ethnic composition of its population, the type of government, their closest allies and their major threats and concerns. Have the students share what they have learned.

Students might enjoy roll playing the importance of a common currency by imaging what it would be like if each state (or each city in their state) in the US had a different currency.

The use of maps can dramatically demonstrate the changes of the world’s boundaries after 1945. Have students prepare maps of the world in 1900, 1930, 1945 and 1990. Help them create overlays of these boundaries on a world map and discuss what caused the changes in political boundaries.


  1. How did the former Soviet satellite nations move to create viable political systems?
  2. What factors worked against the development of democratic systems in the former satellite nations?
  3. How did the instability of the Balkan states lead to massive violence?
  4. Which former satellite nations were the most successful in creating orderly and democratic societies?
  5. How successful have Russia’s attempts to create democratic institutions been?
  6. How have the Western European democracies attempted to balance global competitiveness with a continuation of their welfare systems?
  7. How has the European Union’s creation of the Euro as a common currency led to both economic stability and major economic problems?
  8. Why has Germany attained the status of the major economic power in Europe?
  9. How has the economic rise of India and China changed the world balance of power?
  10. What are the major differences between India’s planned economy launched by Nehru and the economic reforms introduced in India after 1991?
  11. How has India developed a world class information technology sector?
  12. Why has Indian become a leader in Information Technology?
  13. Compare the life and importance of Carnegie and Narayana Murti, INFOYS founder and director. What vision did each man have? How successful have they been in fulfilling that vision?
  14. Trace the People’s Republic of China’s transformation to a market economy. Trace the steps that the PRC has taken to become the third –largest economy and an industrial giant. What are the major differences between China’s economic policies under Mao Zedong and the new system introduced by Deng Xiaoping?
  15. How has China attempted to balance its economic freedoms with a continuing authoritarian political system?
  16. How have the smaller nations of Asia adapted to the new global system?
  17. Why are North Korea and Myanmar the exceptions to the expansion of democracy in Asia?
  18. How has the spread of nuclear bombs to Asia changed the world balance of power?
  19. How have Latin American nations responded to the accelerated world globalization?
  20. How has globalization changed the relations between the United States and Latin America?
  21. What is the significance of the end of Apartheid in South Africa?
  22. Why has the building of stable states in Africa been so problematic?
  23. Why has the AIDS epidemic been particularly harsh in Africa?
  24. What caused the struggle between Israelis and Palestinians, and what are the possible solutions to this struggle?
  25. How have the democratic movements from Tunisia to Syria, which began in 2011, changed the political balance in the region?
  26. Why, after 1989, did the United States emerge as the single most powerful nation?
  27. Is the United States an “empire?” Cite reasons for your answer.
  28. Why have relations between Iran and the United States been so strained?
  29. How did the United States policy toward Iraq change from the 1970s to 2003?
  30. What was the cause of the Iraq war and what have been its results?
  31. How have the terrorist attacks against the United States in 2001 caused the US to change its policies?
  32. Have United States policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan achieved their objectives?
  33. How have the financial collapse of 2007 and 2012 affected American politics and foreign policy?
  34. Evaluate the advisability of the United States maintaining a huge oversees military presence.

Additional Teaching Aids:

On the Internet, World History for us All, Big Era 9, Unit 9.3, “A Multitude of Sovereign States. and 9.6 Population explosion and environmental change since 1950.


Act Seven: Living in the New Global Age


Global contacts, interaction and exchanges have been features of world history for thousands of years. From the 3rd millennium trade between Sumer, Egypt and the Indus cities, these exchanges increased with the development of ocean going ships and the opening of the Silk Roads. However, the accelerated pace of globalization reached a new height in the later 20th century. By this time, over 190 nations dotted the globe and many sought ways to enter the expanding global trading system. In the process billions of lives were changing. Globalization, like most historic changes, brought with it winners and losers.  Some, like small farmers and factory workers, suffered financial losses in the more developed nations, while those in finance, information technology and millions of workers in the less developed economies prospered as never before.

Teaching Suggestions: You could begin this unit by dividing the class in pairs and asking each pair to write down the items of clothing they are wearing, the electronic devices they are carrying and any other items they have with them such as back packs, hats, sports equipment, etc.  Instruct the pairs to also write down where each item was made. For example, sports shirt from Bangladesh or baseball glove from the PRC.

Then conduct a general discussion. First ask students to define clusters of manufactured goods and their place of origin. For example, students might identify the many textile items manufactured in Asia and Latin America; electronic equipment in China and Japan; shoes, sporting goods from Asia.  Then have student discuss why they think these items are no longer made in the USA and why so many items come from Asian nations.  You might encourage students to think of items that are made in the US. and then discuss why the change in world production has taken place. (cheaper wages, few labor protections, few environmental regulations, etc.) Ask students if they feel they should try to buy American products (cars, televisions, clothing, etc.)  Ask students if they ever shop at Wal-Mart. If so, ask them to research where the majority of the products it sells were made.

You can expand the discussion to include the changing balance of payments relationship between China and the U.S.  You can explain that China’s huge balance of trade surpluses are invested in the American public debt which has reached an all time high. Discuss how the present global system is changing the relationships between Asia and the United States and Europe. Have students speculate on how the changing relationships may affect their own lives and how the economic rise of Asia is actually a return to the economic realities of the world prior to 1750.

This is the opportunity have a general discussion about globalization. Some argue that globalization is making most of the world’s people better off. Others insist that globalization is enriching a minority of big businesspeople but impoverishing the majority of people. There is an honest disagreement on this topic and students should appreciate the defenders such as Thomas Freedman and the critics such as Arundhati Roy.  There is no consensus on the benefits of globalization so it is best to problemitize this issue.


  1. Support or refute the statement, “The generation born in the 1930s and 1940s has witnessed more rapid changes in the world than any other generation.”
  2. What are the major advantages of joining the Global System and what are the major disadvantages?
  3. Who benefits most and who benefits the least in the new Global System?
  4. How has the computer changed global history? How is it changing your life?
  5. What technologies have vastly increased communications among the world’s people?
  6. How has the increasing interaction of the world’s people affected art, literature and the social sciences?
  7. How is the mass of information about the destruction of the environment changing the global system?
  8. What will happen to the environment around the world if more and more nations attain the living standard of the United States?
  9. How have medical breakthroughs changed lives? Who are the major beneficiaries of these advances?
  10. How is marriage and the family changing in the Global Age?
  11. How are women’s lives changing in the Global Age?
  12. How is the new globalism affected consumer habits?
  13. How has mass consumerism changed the definitions of the “self?”
  14. How did the development of nuclear bombs contribute to the “Age of Uncertainty?”
  15. How has the rise of terrorist attacks challenged conventional concepts of military defenses?
  16. How is the rise of religious fundamentalism related to the age of anxiety?
  17. How has the rise of ethnic nationalism challenged the concepts of the nation-state and led to cases of genocide?
  18. How is the new globalism increasing inequality and the disparity of income around the world?
  19. How can we explain the fact that two billion of the world’s people must live on two dollars or less per day?
  20. How has the new globalism added to the exploitation of women?
  21. How can we explain that as of 2008 there are more than 12 million of the world’s people subjected to slavery?
  22. How has globalism contributed to the massive movement of peoples around the world? What are the social and cultural changes these movements have brought about?
  23. How have various nations responded to multiculturalism?
  24. How has “identity politics” changed the political landscape? What are some examples in the United States?
  25. Why do many of the world’s people equate Globalization with Westernization?
  26. What are your suggestions for making Globalization more equitable and fair for all the people in the world?
  27. Why has Indian become a leader in Information Technology?
  28. .Trace the People’s Republic of China’s transformation to a market economy. What steps has the PRC has taken to become the third largest economy and an industrial giant.

Additional Teaching Aids

Through Indian Eyes. By Donald and Jean Johnson. Published by Rowman & Littlefield.  “”India’s Path to Economic Growth,” “Daily Life in the New Economy,”  “Child Labor and Education,” and “Indian the Global Age,” has interesting reading on the global age. Also see World History For Us all, Big Era 9, Units 9.4, Wealth and poverty since 1950,  9.5 The world at warp speed: science, technology, and the computer revolution  and 9.7, Globe-girdling cultural trends