From Fellows Deborah Cohen and Lessie Jo Frazier: We’ve been very interested in the Politics of Scale, in particular in relation to the emerging academic field of Big History, a field that takes as its scope a cosmic-scale trajectory from the Big Bang to the present day.

Practitioners of this subfield look for broad historical patterns in human development; they have their own newly-formed international organization, newsletter, journal, and even panels at the American Historical Association conference. Of particular importance is the impact on university curricula.


Discussion Questions:

1) How did post-WWII changes prompt policymakers to think about problems in terms of the global?

2) Summarize the history of the term “global” as used by policymakers and scholars. Do they use it in the same way? How does the use of the term frame the issues of concern to each group?

3) How does understanding  the rise of the term “global” as a frame allow us to be critical about what is included or not in accounts of Global Studies?

4) What were the demands of the Cold War that necessitated a reconsideration of global scale?

5) How did the policies of modernization upset social and political hierarchies?

Class Activities

Pre-class warmup:

Find where the authors state their argument. Give page number.

Paraphrase argument.

List changes in global politics and social life that happened after World War II.

Give an example from the article of a post-World-War-II change in how policymakers understood the path to economic and political power.

Activities and Supplementary materials:

Primary source:

Student use the internet to access speeches by U.S. leaders on geo-politics such as Robert McNamara’s Speech (1966) on “Security in the Contemporary World” or Presidential speeches (Eisenhower , Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon) on  geo-politics to look for passages that support or contrast Cohen and Frazier’s argument about post WWII U.S. leaders’ understandings of the global.

Visual Analysis:

Cartographies of the World: Students use the internet to find various mappings of the world from the 1400s to the present. The Wikipedia page “List of World Map Changes” is an interesting place to start. Particularly useful is Matthew White’s Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century (1998-2003) website  and includes the map “Government in the 1960s”

Using internet images, ask students to individually select a “68” image that could illustrate this chapter and to explain why. Students can then, as teams or a class, curate the best images and provide captions explicitly connecting them with the chapter.

Unit Assignments and Teamwork Applications:

Using Cohen and Frazier’s framework for looking at formulations of “the global,” ask students to take a primary source such as Robert MacNamara’s speech and adapt –using markers would be fine– a world map of the period to illustrate his arguments.

Questions linking this chapter to other volume chapters:

SCALE (Cohen and Frazier, DeBoer) Compare and contrast Cohen and Frazier’s definition of scale to that of DeBoer. How are their understandings of global scale similar or different? What kinds of phenomena can you see with each of the definitions? Compare and contrast Cohen and Frazier with McKay on ways in which Global Studies can think through the forging of connections across groups and across spaces?

HISTORY (Cohen and Frazier, Prakash Kumar, Sean Metzger) How does considering the question of the global in terms of change over time and historical background help us to specify what is new or not-so-new about the global and to understand when and how the idea of the global becomes important for historical actors?

POLITICS  (Cohen and Frazier, Tim Bartley, Zsusza Gille) How do policymakers’ understandings of the global impact how challenges are defined and possible solutions?

RACE (Cohen and Frazier, Sean Metzger, Dierdre McKay) How do ideas about population movements and interactions become framed in terms of racial and ethnic difference?