September 07, 2018, BY Beth Kaszuba

What Class? The Globalization Debate

Who Teaches It? Christopher Magee, economics

"I developed this class because I love issues involving international trade, particularly the politics of trade. There are many controversial topics surrounding globalization, such as its impact on the environment and developing nations, that lead to engaged discussions.   

"During the semester, we hold frequent debates on difficult questions that challenge students to consider the benefits and hazards of an increasingly integrated economy. For example, does globalization harm or help the environment? Should the United States forcefully encourage other countries to become democracies? And should our nation allow more or fewer immigrants into the country? Students come into class having read arguments on both sides of the question, and a few students are assigned to write opinion papers advocating for one point of view. The writers lead group discussions, then the entire class comes together for a debate. That improves both their understanding of the subject matter and their public debating skills.

"We also play several games to illustrate concepts, including one in which students guess a number between one and 100, trying to figure out a random number I've generated. Inevitably, the guesses quickly coalesce around 50 and 51. The activity illustrates the concept of an equilibrium — a stable outcome where you can predict each player's behavior if you make assumptions about their goals, in this case to maximize their chances of winning. In another game, students assume the roles of political leaders from different countries and bid against each other, offering tax breaks in an attempt to attract a multinational investor. The outcome usually reveals the 'winner's curse,' meaning the winning bid is so generous that the successful country pays more to the firm than it gains in benefits from the foreign investment.

"Students enjoy debating the issues, and there are always arguments that can be made on both sides. I hope students gain an understanding of why they hold certain beliefs and an ability to defend their positions against counterarguments. Most importantly, though, I want students to recognize that there are often multiple conflicting viewpoints on a topic that can be justified depending on a person's priorities and worldview. I hope students come out of the class with a willingness to listen to others and respect their rights to hold different opinions."

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