In March 2012, Santa Monica College students, staff, and faculty, voted online to choose our annual Global Citizenship theme for 2012-13. The winning theme, receiving nearly one-third of the 765 votes cast, is:
Poverty and Wealth, Want and Waste: the unevenness of globalization
This is the fourth consecutive year that SMC Global Citizenship has presented an annual campuswide theme. These themes are incorporated into numerous classes, campus events, and extracurricular activities throughout the year, and everyone throughout the college is invited to interpret and explore the theme as a means of thinking and acting as global citizens. Here is how several SMC faculty have utilized this year's theme in their classes.
As a further prompt to investigating the theme, here is how is was described on last spring's ballot:
Despite recent economic stagnation in Europe and North America, the last quarter century's rising tide of global affluence continues to transform human societies and natural environments. According to the UN's 2010 progress report
on the Millennium Development Goals
, the proportion of humanity living in extreme poverty soon will be just half of its 1990 levels, thanks largely to economic growth in emerging countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS
). But the fight against poverty is far from over, and nearly one billion people worldwide continue to live on the equivalent of less than US$1.25 per day. This is but one indicator of how the wealth-generating effects of globalization have, so far at least, proven to be disproportionately concentrated on an elite global minority, leading to rising resentment among the "99 percent" who believe they are being left behind. Moreover, regardless of how the growing affluence yielded by globalization is distributed, it is tied to a modern economy built around mass consumption. How we manage our voracious demand for energy and other resources, and how we handle the large mountains and rivers of waste that our consumption yields, will go a long way in determining the fate of our species--and others--on planet Earth.
And here are just a few of the many, many questions that could be pursued under the theme--a list that is meant to be suggestive, rather than comprehensive:
- Is fighting poverty enough, or should humanity also take actions to promote economic equality, both within and between societies? And if so, what actions can most effectively and appropriately address the gaps between rich and poor?
- Do patterns of consumption merely reflect social-economic
inequality, or does our consumption help to create that inequality, too?
- How do our consumption choices drive our demand for natural resources?
- How does our consumption help define and redefine our cultural identities, as well as our changing notions of the “good life”?
- Does a sober, dismal rhetoric of finite limits and growing ecological “footprints” push us more toward effective action, or instead toward paralyzed inaction or, worse still, counter-productive reaction? Would we be better served by conceptualizing a global “handprint” of hope and possibility?
- How do other species handle issues of want and waste? Is such evenness of resource use a natural part of life on Earth?
In addition to choosing their preferred theme for 2012-13, voters were asked in the spring to list books, films, or other resources that might be used in support of that theme. Here are their suggestions:
Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
Alison Brysk, Globalization and Human Rights
Noam Chomsky, Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order
Harm De Blij, The Power of Place: Geography, Destiny, and Globalization's Rough Landscape
Tupelo Hassman, Girlchild: A Novel
Chi Cheng Huang, When Invisible Children Sing
Edward Humes, Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash
David Cay Johnston, Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich--and Cheat Everybody Else
Tracy Kidder, Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World
Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Nicholas D. Kristof, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
Mark Kurlansky, Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World
David S. Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor
Ervin Laszlo, Chaos Point 2012 and Beyond: Appointment with Destiny
Soon Ok Lee, Eyes of the Tailless Animals: Prison Memoirs of a North Korean Woman
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed: An Amiguous Utopia
Robert B. Marks, The Origins of the Modern World: A Global and Ecological Narrative from the Fifteenth to the Twenty-First Century
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto
J. R. McNeill, Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World
Stephanie Mills, On Gandhi's Path
Jacqueline Novogratz, The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World
George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London
Raj Patel, The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy
Ruby K. Payne, A Framework for Understanding Poverty
John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Kenneth Pomeranz, The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy
Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
Jeremy Rifkin, The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World
We are always interested in receiving additional ideas that could be used to develop the theme. Please share your suggestions for additional questions, readings, and films, via email with Geography professor, Pete Morris
, the current faculty leader of the SMC Global Citizenship Council. We also would welcome short descriptions of any of the resources listed above as our goal is to develop an annotated bibliography/webliography in support of the theme.
And if you would like to write a more complete review essay on one or more of these resources, please consider contributing to our SMC Global Citzenship blog
Note: The complete vote count was as follows:
Poverty and Wealth, Want and Waste, 234 votes (31%)
- Communication and Community, 192 (25%)
- The Search for Truth, 182 (24%)
- Migrations, 157 (20%)
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