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Undergraduate Program Themes

Globalization, Environment and Development

People interact with their environments and experience economic processes in diverse ways, both within societies and across the globe.

Courses in the Globalization, Environment and Development theme examine and explain this geographical diversity.  Some courses are explicitly focused on the broader processes that shape our economic lives, some examine the driving forces behind global capitalism and its various manifestations, and some on the other hand, trace more intimate experiences of economic processes.

A major concern is to understand how such processes can lead to unevenness in material well-being around the world and within societies. 

This issue is explored in specific regions of the world, including the Caribbean, Africa, South Asia, and the Asia-Pacific.  While the broader context for understanding uneven development is always the global scale, studies of particular regions are used to ground our analyses in historical and geographical contexts.

A fundamental starting point for understanding uneven economic development is the way in which societies relate to nature, and how they convert environments into wealth-producing commodities.

These processes are essentially struggles over the power to define, manage and profit from natural resources.  Such power struggles are sometimes between states and their respective peoples or between men and women, or between the wealthy nations of the industrialized global North, and the poorer nations of the postcolonial South.

In a variety of ways, geographical perspectives on globalization, environment and development will allow you to explore pressing contemporary issues concerning wealth and poverty, resources, and conservation.  This exploration involves grasping the ‘big picture’ in the form of global economic processes, but also the implications of such processes for particular regions, and the experiences and struggles of people around the world as they seek their livelihood.