Almost every aspect of human existence has been touched by the dynamic of globalization, which may be the defining characteristic of the 21st Century. Yet, the origins, history, evolution, and impact of globalization – even its very definition – are subject to intense debate. We can surely say, however, that every student leaving college and entering the workforce – the world – should have a fundamental understanding of globalization. Such understanding will give students crucial knowledge and skills that will set them apart in this new world and help them succeed in an increasingly globalized context. It will help them anticipate the social, cultural, economic and political changes brought about by globalization — and the resistance to globalization. It will better prepare students to draw connections in an interdependent and interconnected world. Global Studies is a relatively new and increasingly popular major at universities worldwide, including Yale, UCLA, the London School of Economics and others. Different from study in an individual department, Global Studies is emphatically interdisciplinary, with professors from anthropology, journalism, sociology, modern languages and literature, religion studies, political science, history, international relations, and others. Increasingly, the most important questions cannot be answered by one discipline but by the combined efforts of multiple disciplines.
Although study of globalization has gone on at Lehigh for years, the University formally created the Globalization and Social Change Initiative in Fall 2006, and the major in Global Studies followed soon after. The Initiative’s three main areas of focus are Global Communication, Culture and Identity, and Politics and Social Structures. Rooted in these areas of interest, the major examines how the forces of globalization shape and are shaped by history, culture, economics, politics, communication, and other fundamental aspects of the human condition.
Topics of research on globalization and social change are limitless. The Initiative’s main areas of focus take up the crucial intersections between globalization and human life: Global Communication, Culture and Identity, and Politics and Social Structures. These research streams inform our teaching and research, our partnership with international organizations and universities, and our collaborative work within Lehigh, with Area Studies programs, Global Citizenship, the Lehigh-United Nations Partnership, and others.