General Globalization Terms

General Globalization Terms

Globalization, with its many associated benefits and costs, is a confusing topic for most people. This page provides articles and information to help clear the air.
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The world is still the same size that is was thousands of years ago but feels much smaller today. Photo Credit:
What is Globalization? Its global nature leads to a variety of different perspectives and ideas about what globalization is and how it effects people and communities around the world. To some people it means that everyone is a citizen of the global community and to others it means that large corporations take advantage of developing countries to increase profits and exploit resources and workers. Global Envision offers a general description of the globalization process and provides a variety of perspectives through links to articles on the site.

A central component of globalization is its global character and interconnectedness. In light of that we have also defined the global economic forum of the United Nations and provided a description of non-government organizations that inform global policy.


The term globalization describes the growing political, social, cultural, economic and technological interconnectedness and interdependence of the world today. Globalization has been described as the world getting smaller - as markets and people become more accessible to one another. As communication technologies advance, cultures continue to overlap and influence each other. In addition, an increase in international trade has created an economic interdependence between many states. This process has effects on the environment, on culture, on political systems, on economic development and prosperity, and on human physical well-being in societies around the world. 1

The global nature and growth of globalization has provoked an array of responses and opinions. Anti-globalization protests have appeared in headlines across the globe. Supporters of globalization face anti-immigration movements in Western Europe and the United States, opposition to the removal of trade barriers and backlash against western cultural influence in many states. Yet anti-globalization protesters often benefit from the very process that they are opposing - through internet technology, international markets and global interdependence. Globalization will continue to be a topic of discussion and debate, as different experiences and information generate different opinions. 2

We are now being touched by people who have never touched us before, we're competing with people who we've never competed with before, and fortunately we're collaborating with people we've never been able to collaborate with before.
Thomas Friedman, from his Interview with Nayan Chanda of YaleGlobal Online

We cannot turn globalization back. Our challenge is to make globalization an instrument of opportunity and inclusion -- not fear and insecurity. With all the forces making the world smaller, it is time to change our way of thinking, time to realize we live together in one world, not two -- this poverty is in our community wherever we live. It is our responsibility.
James Wolfensohn, 9th President of the World Bank (1995-2005)

Links to Articles on Globalization:

What is Globalization?

International Perspectives on Globalization

Globalization's Hidden Benefits

The Mixed Fortunes of Globalization

Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs):

A nongovernmental organization, in the broadest definitional form, is an organization that is not affiliated with the government, yet has a significant impact on the political, social and economic status of the region in question. Since the mid-1970s there has been an exponential increase in the number of NGOs worldwide and therefore such organizations have become quite influential. The World Bank definition describes NGOs as "private organizations that pursue activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services, or undertake community development."3 In wider usage, the term NGO can be applied to any non-profit organization which is independent from government.

These organizations can be a watch dog of the government, such as Amnesty International or a community organization that addresses local issues. They range from international powerhouses like OxFam who lobby the United Nations in support of development and peace, to small community groups advocating for better schools or more reliable water sources. Generally these organizations have a humanitarian focus and are not profit driven.4

The International Red Cross is one of the most famous NGOs and an excellent example. "Growing from one man's spontaneous gesture to help wounded soldiers, to become an organization reaching out to millions of war victims around the world, the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] has worked in most of the major crises of the past 140 years. Hand in hand with its operational activities have been its efforts to develop the laws governing armed conflicts, so as to ensure greater protection for those who do not, or who no longer, take part in fighting; the ICRC and the Geneva Conventions are inextricably linked."5

GlobalEnvision is an initiative of Mercy Corps, an NGO based in the United States. Specifically, Mercy Corps is an international humanitarian relief organization working in over 40 countries world-wide. "Mercy Corps works amid disasters, conflicts, chronic poverty and instability to unleash the potential of people who can win against nearly impossible odds. Since 1979, Mercy Corps has provided $1 billion in assistance to people in 94 nations. Supported by headquarters offices in North America, Europe, and Asia, the agency's unified global programs employ 3,200 staff worldwide and reach nearly 13.5 million people in more than 40 countries."6

Links to Articles on NGOs:

Mercy Corps - Mapping the Future in Aceh

A Million Paths to Peace

Hortense Zevonnou - Social Entrepreneur

United Nations:

The United Nations (UN) is a membership group of almost every state in the world. Currently, there are 192 members, but this number fluctuates as states break apart or gain international recognition. The goal of the UN is to provide a political space for states to interact diplomatically in order to avoid war and unnecessary violence.

The United Nations is less than 60 years old and is the successor of the League of Nations that was established during World War I "to promote international cooperation and to achieve peace and security." It has become an important part of the international system, and helps to create international stability through the Security Council, General Assembly, the office of the Secretary General and peace keeping forces.

In addition the UN engages in economic and social development around the world. The UN has many different programs ranging from the UN Children's Fund to the UN Drug Control Program. The United Nations has also been active in environmental protection through the UN Environment Programme and several other UN agencies including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.7

Links to Articles on the United Nations:

United Nations

A United Nations Consensus

UN Millennium Development Goals

Climate Hysteria


1 Globalization 101

2 YaleGlobal Online

3 World Bank Operational Directive 14.70

4 Non-governmental Organizations Resource Guide at Duke University

5 International Committee of the Red Cross

6 Mercy Corps

7 United Nations

Contributed by Rachelle Vanderzanden, former project intern at Global Envision. Rachelle was an undergraduate student at Portland State University studying political science.

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