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Social Science Week

Globalisation: For Good Or Ill?

Day Conference for Coventry and Warwickshire Schools

22 June 2004

In the context of the ESRC’s Social Science Week (21-25 June 2004), CSGR held a one-day conference to introduce secondary school pupils to debates about globalisation. Around fifty Year 12 pupils from schools in Coventry and Warwickshire attended with their teachers.

Objectives of the day were: (a) to clarify ideas of globalisation; (b) to explore how globalisation played out in a number of important policy issues; (c) to help young people make more informed decisions about their global futures; and (d) to generate interest among sixth formers in university-based social science research.

The proceedings opened with an introductory lecture from Professor Jan Aart Scholte, Acting Director of CSGR. This talk reviewed various meanings assigned to ‘globalisation’ and illustrated the many ways that the trend has affected contemporary society. In the question period pupils were especially interested to discuss the impacts of globalisation on culture and the degree to which globalisation is a tool of US power.

After the plenary lecture the pupils and their teachers broke into small groups for discussions with CSGR staff about a variety of specific issues connected with globalisation. Professor Robin Cohen led sessions concerning the challenges of global migration. Dr Gianluca Grimalda facilitated discussions on globalisation, poverty and inequality. Dr Toby Dodge talked with the local pupils about globalisation and security in Iraq, while Dr Sian Sullivan covered anti-globalisation politics. Dr Dwijen Rangnekar ran a workshop on the global future of biotechnology, while Eleni Tsingou did a seminar on the politics of global business. Dr Michela Redoano introduced pupils to the statistics of measuring globalisation, while Professor Grahame Thompson led a group discussion on the meaning of frontiers in the context of globalisation. Two sessions of workshops (split by lunch and a campus tour) allowed pupils to address a couple of topics.

The day ended with a summary plenary and an evaluation. Completed questionnaires and a lively concluding discussion suggested that the pupils had enjoyed the day, found it well structured, and had learned a lot. Most of the participants had never before heard of the ESRC, so the research council’s aim of raising public awareness of its work was certainly met at this CSGR contribution to Social Science Week.

CSGR extends many thanks to the schools for participating, the ESRC communications team for support, and to Mary Watson and her colleagues at the University of Warwick Undergraduate Recruitment and Admissions Office for their flawless administrative backup of the event, which we would certainly consider repeating.