In 1985, I was assigned to teach my first senior level, International Relations course. I was informed that no high school level text existed but was free to shape the curriculum as I felt best. I welcomed the opportunity and armed with generous Xerox machine privileges, wrote my own text book.
I have updated the curriculum which was annually refreshed from 1986 through 2004 and again this year. Text book companies, since the late 1990’s, have produced Global Studies texts, some with convenient, corresponding, workbook applications.
International Relations texts are dicey propositions for publishers – changing world situations quickly render the books out of date shortly after they’ve been printed. Today’s tight educational budgets may force systems and schools to look upon an International Relations class as a luxury – and thirty text books as price prohibitive – Core needs take priority which is understandable.
To the teacher:
International Relations has traditionally been the social science discipline for teaching about the economic, political, military, and social interaction between nations. In the 1970’s, Global Education, a similar competency, was supposedly better equipped to prepare individuals for more effective participation in an emerging world system.
“Spaceship Earth”, in 2013, is increasingly more interdependent and trans-nationalistic. For example, conflict in the Middle East:
- May spike oil prices and dent the American consumer’s spending power
- A weakening yen and a strengthening dollar may boost Japanese exports and profit margins
- U.S. manufacturers, facing short term losses, consider moving factories offshore to lower wage nations to adapt.
Capital flows in billions of dollars or Euros stream worldwide at the speed of light – waves of electronic digits move between New York, London, Frankfurt, Moscow, Beijing, Sydney, Los Angeles or Toronto. Big global banks, at frightening speed, can pull huge sums out of nation’s economy in minutes, panic financial investors, throw markets – and governments – in to crisis.
Words such as “eco-system”, “McLuhanesque”, “fast food” and “video” have given way to “global warming”, “jihad”, “farm to table”, and “video-streaming”.
Phrases such as “internationally ignorant” and “geographically illiterate”, unfortunately, are still with us. The phrases reflect continuing U.S. academic deficiencies such as:
- Basic geographic skills and knowledge that our schools are doing a poor job of teaching
- The skill and knowledge deficits disadvantage our students in competition for global markets.
Both public and private commissions have evaluated the quality of international education in U. S. schools and reported that current approaches are inadequate. Three of the more shocking conclusions are:
- 20% of American secondary students cannot locate the United States on a map of the world
- 50% of American secondary students cannot locate Great Britain, Germany, Japan, or Russia on a world map
- In a United Nations study of 30,000 youths, American students ranked next to last in their understanding of foreign cultures.
Americans perceived lack of interest in the world contrasts with our being a nation of immigrants with origins from over 200 countries. Public education in the U.S. is generally locally controlled and supported, a constitutional and historical prerogative that is at odds with America’s need to raise national standards.
Tea Party leaders view federally mandated programs and moneys as unwarranted and intrusive threats to personal freedom. More extreme elements suspect International Relations / Global Studies courses of promoting socialistic one-world government principles and practices.
This curriculum is designed to provide a basic survey of core knowledge and key global issues and contains both cognitive and affective components.
Classroom teachers with Internet access will eventually be able to download the curriculum into teacher and student computers for relatively simple instructional implementation and application.
Goals and objectives:
The cognitive goals of any curriculum framework for global education should help students:
- To become geographically literate
- To acquire knowledge about the diverse groups within a culture and the diverse cultures of the world
- Acquire knowledge of the world’s nations, historica1 relations between them, and an understanding of the causes and effects of change
- Acquire knowledge of the problems facing the world including conflict management, overpopulation, pollution, water mismanagement, resource depletion, health care, education, and poverty.
The aim of the text’s affective domain is to supply learning experiences that will foster attitudes which:
- Perceive and appreciate the world as an interdependent human community made up of cultures that have more similarities then differences
- Recognize the inevitabi11ty and benefits of diversity among peoples and cultures.
- Recognize that each individual’s perception of the world is his own, shaped by their own experiences and not necessarily shared by others.
- Apply data to world problems in order to provide solutions.
- Synthesize data reflecting the constantly changing status of the world
- Resolves situations dealing with conflicts caused by nationalist / internationalist interests
- Make predictions for the future through analysis and interpretation of the past and present
- Provide an opportunity to evolve a personal philosophy and value system (ex: justice, responsibility, standards of living) that takes into account the realities of world living
Processes to develop more effective human interaction skills, decision-making abilities, and problem-solving and critical thinking skills are also included.
The text supplies the classroom teacher with performance objectives, basic concepts to be learned, instructional strategies, resource materials such as student handouts, supplementary materials lists, and recommended ways and means of evaluation.
A major development consideration is comp1iance with the State of Georgia’s Quality Basic Education Program (QBE). The text’s seam of thought has been cross-referenced with QBE-mandated Quality Core Curriculum (QCC) objectives, concepts, suggested subject matter, and the respective standardized system-wide tests taken at each grade level.
The QBE / QCC component reflects Georgia’s response to:
- The nation’s spate of educational reform movements
- The state and city’s economic development goal of increasing exports
- Reality of Atlanta’s global connectivity and diversity – immigrants have come from every country in the world
- 1996 Olympic Games, CNN, 33 consulates, 18 sister cities are just four examples of the internationalization of the Metro Atlanta region.
The course of study begins with a geography map lesson(s) which identifies approximately 400+ entities: 50 U.S. states, 10 Canadian provinces and two territories, 206 countries, 130 major cities, and important bodies of water. This variable and subjective list is an attempt to establish a basic standard for geographical literacy.
The other units include the following subjects and incorporate both cognitive and affective components.
UNIT 2: A survey of historica1 trends and cycles with forecasting simulation.
UNIT 3: Recognition of the intellectual equality of all the racial groups making up the human species through attitudina1 / sensitivity development experiences designed to increase understanding / reasoning ability of why another nation’s development level may lag behind that of the United States.
UNIT 4: Introduction to nationalism and imperia1ism w1th selected case studies:
(1) World domination strategies — sea power, heartland theory, aerospace technologies
(2) Spheres of influence — China, Russia, U.S.; example – Cold War struggle between the
U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A.
UNIT 5: Analysis of inter-continental political and military strategies: appeasement, secret alliances, collective security arrangements, United Nations.
UNIT 6: An examination of six of the larger world societal models (China, lndia, Germany, Russia, U. S., Japan) and corresponding levels and modes of development.
Unit 7: International Trade – Importance, Impact, and Issues
- Internationalization of the U.S. economy – transformation of nation, states, cities economically and technologically
- World economic changes 1946 to present (2013) – from a U. S. dominated world after WW II to global interdependence
- Multinational corporations (MNC) role in the global economy with focus on their size, job creation factors, U.S. national interests contrasted with MNC interests
- Relationship between cultural dispersion and trans-societal technologies
- Selected case studies: U.S. trade imbalances with China and other Pacific Rim countries (Korea, Japan), the European Union’s new challenges.
Unit 8: Middle East Guide – History, Issues, Crisis & Conflicts
- Roots of continuing Israeli – Palestinian conflict with focus on competing Holy Land claims
- Lebanese Civil War, rise of Hezbollah, continuing divisions and tensions strained by Syrian interference
- Iraq invasion of Kuwait, Saddam’s conflicts with Iran and Israel, antecedents for regional instability leading to 2002 U.S. invasion of Iraq
- Aftermath of 1979 Soviet / Russian and 2001 U.S. invasions of Afghanistan
- September 11, 2001, aftermath war against Al Qaeda, Taliban, global Jihadist terror groups
- Arab Spring revolutions, continuing Egyptian instability, trends
- Syrian Civil War and strategies for a democratic future
- Prospects for Middle East regional peace and prosperity.
Sources and development of curriculum / text:
This curriculum evolved out of a desire of the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) in 1978 to upgrade its international education program. Mrs. Jeanette Moon, the APS Social Studies Coordinator at the time, informed teachers that a new trend – Global Studies, a less nationalistic approach to teaching International Relations – called for new approaches and materials.
A model curriculum had been developed in 1975 – 76 by Indiana University’s Mid-America Program for Global Perspectives. The Mid-America Program had received a federal grant to prepare and distribute curriculum to U.S. schools to help train students for the then forming global economy.
Mrs. Moon believed that the Global Perspectives Curriculum was a more effective approach and recruited me to adapt the material for all U.S. high schools. This was done though ensuing budget cuts ultimately prevented system-wide implementation.
Fast forward ten years later to 1988 – the curriculum had become so outdated that I renovated it to better teach my students. The author acknowledges that some goals and objectives were Mid-America’s. Student reaction to this curriculum was consistently favorable. Two important attributes are a relative timelessness and an ability to annually update class materials.
There are no teacher proof materials. I believe that teachers will find this curriculum easy to use – they are also encouraged to tailor the lessons to meet the varying needs of their students.
Teachers are urged to integrate a current events component into their courses. Students are encouraged to pay attention to the events unfolding around the world that directly impact their lives.