The neo-liberal globalization model (or corporate-driven globalization model) has grown at an accelerated pace over the last thirty years. While it has shown immense productive capacity, it has also increased wealth disparity within and between nations, and it has seriously threatened the sustainability of the natural environment. At the core of globalization is a widely criticized assumption that unlimited economic growth through corporate-dominated free markets leads to development, and thus is the solution to unemployment, income inequality, social conflict, and even environmental degradation.
While some opponents call for a transformation of global institutions of governance and rule, others call for more radical changes, seizing this moment as an opportunity to experiment with alternative economic systems aimed at reclaiming the power to control and build inclusive local and regional economies; secure rights to food, water, land, and healthy environments; build resilience; restore value systems; and ultimately improve quality of life.
This course explores the ideas behind, and actions toward, some of these economic alternatives. Through an introductory conceptual module, students review and analyze the worldviews that led to the current system and the theoretical and empirical arguments embraced by its critics. Students then explore concepts and case studies for developing new opportunities, including circular economies and local economies.
The course concludes with an experiential component where students use the knowledge they have gained over the course of the semester to develop a strategy (economic, policy, or other) for building on and contributing to a sustainable and inclusive local economy.