The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an institution dealing with rules of trade between nations. Its goal is to “ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible. [The] result is a more prosperous, peaceful and accountable economic world” (WTO Web site). This result, however, is not universally acknowledged, as evidenced by the growing number of movements against the WTO and globalization, the increasing integration of the world economy. While advocates claim that globalization can bring prosperity to impoverished countries, opponents say it will exacerbate poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation.
China became a member of the WTO in December 2001. While the long-term effects of China’s entry into the global market are yet to be determined, some fear that liberalized trade policies and a greater involvement in the global economy will create more poverty and put much of China’s population at a disadvantage.
Using China as a case study, students will explore the entry of developing countries into the WTO and the effects of globalization. What is the WTO? Who gains and who loses from globalization? Students will focus on two perspectives:
The entry of developing countries into the WTO is hurting those countries.
The entry of developing countries into the WTO is empowering those countries.
Using the Academic Controversy model, students will develop skills in: creating and presenting arguments; researching; collaboration and communication; conflict resolution and consensus-building. Students will be evaluated on participation, use of student organizers, and a culminating project, which will demonstrate their understanding of the content and their mastery of the Academic Controversy process.
Grade Level: 9-12
Longer Version: This lesson can span from one-two weeks. Ideally, two-three days of introduction to Academic Controversy, student research, and position-development should be allowed; one-two days for engaging in the Academic Controversy itself (presentation of positions, open discussion, reversal of positions); and two days for the synthesis of the positions and the preparation of a joint report. If the teacher chooses to extend the lesson by assigning additional case studies to individual students or small groups of students, the lesson could last for a couple of weeks.
Compressed Version: This lesson could also be completed in two-three days. This would include one day for introduction to Academic Controversy, student research, and position-development (with one-two homework assignments to supplement class time); one day for the structured controversy; and one day for the synthesis of the positions and the preparation of a joint report.
- Understand the history, purpose, and impact of the World Trade Organization.
- Explore the pros and cons of globalization, especially in relation to its impact on developing countries.
- Investigate the effects that entry into the WTO is having in China and in other developing countries.
- Understand the following terms and concepts: World Trade Organization (WTO), free trade, liberalized trade, exploitation, developing countries, third world countries, globalization/ anti-globalization, debt relief, global market
- Develop research, presentation, writing and conflict resolution skills that can be applied to numerous other content areas and case studies.
Historical Understanding Standard 1
Understands and knows how to analyze chronological relationships and patterns. Benchmark: Understands historical continuity and change related to a particular development or theme.
World History Standard 44
Understands the search for community, stability, and peace in an interdependent world. Benchmarks: Understands common arguments of opposition groups in various countries around the world, common solutions they offer, and the position of these ideas with regard to Western economic and strategic interests; Understands how global political change has altered the world economy.
World History Standard 45
Understands major global trends since World War II. Benchmarks: Understands causes of economic imbalances and social inequalities among the world’s peoples and efforts made to close these gaps.
Economics Standard 10
Understands basic concepts about international economics. Benchmarks: Understands that public policies affecting foreign trade impose costs and benefits on different groups of people and that decisions on these policies reflect economic and political interests and forces.
Civics Standard 22
Understands how the world is organized politically into nation-states, how nation-states interact with one another, and issues surrounding U.S. foreign policy. Benchmarks: Understands the idea of the national interest and how it is used as a criterion for shaping American foreign policy; Understands the purposes and functions of major governmental international organizations and major nongovernmental international organizations; Knows some important bilateral and multilateral agreements to which the United States is signatory.
Language Arts Standard 4
Gathers and uses information for research purposes. Benchmarks: Uses appropriate research methodology; Uses a variety of print and electronic sources to gather information for research topics; Synthesizes information from multiple research studies to draw conclusions that go beyond those found in any of the individual studies; Writes research papers.