Globalization College Essay

In the late nineteenth century, U.S. colleges and universities had to respond to a new German invention called graduate education, and the choices they made continue to define their identity. Harvard, for example, decided to embrace graduate education across the board, from PhDs to medicine and business, and went on to become an all-inclusive university. Princeton, on the other hand, stayed on the graduate-level sidelines and to this day has only modest graduate and professional programs. Two universities -- Clark and Johns Hopkins -- were born as graduate-only institutions.

Today's equivalent of the nineteenth-century German challenge is globalization. How each of the country's 2,200 four-year colleges and universities chooses to confront the fact that higher education can no longer be confined within national borders will shape their future identities.

As with the earlier challenge, universities are making very different choices, and the decisions they make are relevant to college-bound high school seniors looking for a school that will prepare them to take their place in a global environment.

When it comes to global ambitions, New York University is undoubtedly the most ambitious. NYU opened an undergraduate campus in Abu Dhabi and is building another one in Shanghai. Though tight-lipped about its strategic plans, NYU clearly wants to have a global academic presence -- let's call it the Starbucks of higher education.

Duke University already has a medical facility in Singapore and is constructing a new campus in Kunshan, located outside Shanghai, as part of its aspirations to be a "globally networked university." With a new campus in Kigali, Rwanda, Carnegie Mellon expects to become the first U.S. research university to offer degree programs in Africa. Yale will open a new liberal arts college in the fall of 2013 in partnership with the National University of Singapore.

Setting up a new campus on foreign soil is, of course, only one way to deal with the challenge of globalization. Cornell University has teamed up with Technion-Israel Institute of Technology as part of its bid to build an "applied science campus" on Roosevelt Island in Manhattan. Hundreds of U.S. colleges and universities have negotiated partnerships with universities in other countries to run particular programs. A good description of the many options can be found in Ben Wildavsky's readable book, The Great Brain Race: How Global Universities Are Reshaping the World (Princeton University Press).

For faculty members, globalization is old stuff. An academic researcher today is just as likely to work with a colleague halfway around the world as she is to team up with someone down the hall. Ideas are as oblivious to national borders as hip-hop, smartphone apps or pork belly futures.

So what does all this talk of globalization mean for students? As editor of the Fiske Guide to Colleges for the last 30 years, I've noted that colleges and students alike are showing more interest in globalization in two important ways.

The first has to do with the importance of diversity. Given the changing nature of the global workplace, students are seeking educational environments in which they will have opportunities to work elbow to elbow with persons from very different backgrounds, including those from other countries and cultures. Responding to these demands, almost all of the 300-plus schools in the Fiske Guide have been increasing the number of foreign nationals in their undergraduate bodies. (The other attraction of foreign students, of course, is that many of them bring hard currency.)

Some universities have been at this for a long time. The University of Southern California, with 8,615 international students, has traditionally topped the list in terms of numbers, followed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne (7,991) and, you guessed it, NYU (7,988). But some smaller schools are also notable. Mount Holyoke College has nearly 600 international students in a student body of 2,300.

The second reason has to do with study-abroad opportunities. It is hard for me to conceive of going through four years of college these days without trying to spend at least some time in a foreign setting. I'm not talking "tourism" with a thin academic veneer. I'm talking about putting yourself in a situation where you can peel away at least a layer or two of another culture and come to appreciate -- and respect -- the fact that persons from other countries think differently than we do and have very different values.

Once again, colleges are responding to growing student demand for building international experiences into their education. These opportunities range from short-term vacation or January term trips, where you take along your own professors, to semester- or year-long programs, where you take the deep plunge into the academic life of a foreign university and study alongside students from around the world.

Finances, of course, are always a consideration, but a growing number of colleges will let you study abroad at the same cost as you would pay at home -- or even less -- and many offer financial aid, as well. Until recently, it has been difficult for students in the sciences or engineering, with rigidly sequenced course requirements, to spend time abroad, but even this is changing. Georgia Tech, for instance, sends student overseas during the summer.

Then, of course, why not do your entire four years abroad? Fiske Guide to Colleges began adding write-ups on the leading Canadian schools a decade ago and then some from Great Britain, on the grounds that these English-speaking programs offer the equivalent of an education from an Ivy or flagship public university at a much lower cost. Who is to dispute the words of an American at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland who touted the virtues of studying in an international context and having "friends to crash with all over the world"?

Edward B. Fiske, former education editor of the New York Times, is author of the Fiske Guide to Colleges (Sourcebooks) and numerous other books on college admissions.

The 21st century appears to be marked by the effacement of the east and west. Technology has transcended many aspects of human lives that geographic distance among countries no longer matters.

The internet and media have been instrumental in bridging relationships among people of all nations. Its reach and accessibility have crossed borders and have more closely and independently influenced people.

These communication technologies have expanded and accelerated global connectivity (Tomlinson, 2007, p. 352). Also, international travel has made possible the connections among countries and has facilitated social, cultural, economic and political influences.

Faster and more efficient modes of transportation have provided opportunities for increased exchanges among countries.

Towards increased globalization, interconnections and interdependencies have quickly developed and have become deep as these have become the way of life in the modern world (Tomlinson, 2007, p. 352).

This paper provides the various ways in which the cultural, economic and political factors are interrelated across the world.

Cultural Globalization

Cultures are increasingly diffused across the world. This is manifested by examining a few of the elements of culture – language, music, arts, and cuisine.

In today’s extended social relations brought about by social media, the need and the interest to learn foreign languages have increasingly become more important.

English as spoken by 83 countries around the world (Nations Online, 2016) is obviously more popular.

A search for Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) or Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) results in more than 1.6 million web pages (Yahoo, 27 December 2016).

Additionally, the search for English online tutorial businesses results in more than 33 million web pages.

This is an indication of the need for better understanding and the ability to communicate across the world.

In the field of music, online music stores like those of iTunes and Spotify reach millions of users across the globe.

Taste or preference for music is getting wider and more varied as access to it is easier through digital technology.

Spotify, for instance, has 75 million users spread in 58 countries (Kosoff, 2016, par. 1).

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) listed the United States and Japan as the two largest music markets in the world in 2014 where sales comprised of both foreign and local artists.

Meanwhile, Korean pop music, popularly called K-Pop, has reached popularity across the world as concerts in Europe and the United States grew, as well as the number of fans (Sang-Hun & Russell, 2012, par. 14).

In the arts, particularly in film, the New York Film Academy (2015) listed in its website countries across continents holding international film festivals.

The appreciation for foreign films has also increased. In 2015 alone, at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in France, there were 4,550 entries, including entries from Asia, Europe, Latin America and Oceania (Festival de Cannes, 2015).

Lastly, the cuisine has been a highly visible cultural element worldwide. American fast food chains like McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and Carl’s Jr. among others have also entered international markets.

In 2013, for McDonald’s, there were 34,492 restaurants in 116 countries (Chalabi & Burn-Murdoch, 2013, par. 1).

In the meantime, there is a Chinatown in every major city in the world (Ostheimer, 2012, par. 1).

All these elements, with their examples, signify proof that culture is diffused worldwide and that people increasingly have integrated into their lives foreign cultures harmoniously merged with their own.

More importantly, economic and political policies work within the cultural realm as culture pervades people’s lives.

Economic and political policies provide for the availability of these cultural forms as the government should recognize people’s democracy and interests.

Economic Integration

The political connection to economic incentives is obvious. Governments
recognize that the ‘global economy’ depicts the interdependencies of markets.

International trade has proven to provide local economies with benefits (Economy Watch, 2010, par. 1).

Among these advantages include the enhancement of local competitiveness.

Local governments allow the entry of foreign goods to spice up the competition, making local producers improve their products’ quality.

International trade also helps stabilize seasonal market fluctuations. Businesses are able to sustain operations by tapping other markets abroad or seek for suppliers internationally.

Related to this, the dependence on existing markets is also reduced. The exploration of international markets provides businesses increased opportunities for growth.

With the widening scope and increasing complexities of international trade, more and more governments realize the need for economic cooperation and the need for treatises.

There is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), where 35 countries join forces to promote economic and social policies and provide for improvement in these areas (OECD, 2016, par. 1).

There are also regional organizations that aspire to promote and to strengthen economic relationships, aside from political cooperation, like the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

A search at the United Nations Treaty Collection (2016) lists 1,554 results containing economic issues.

This signifies that countries across the world find interest in establishing economic interconnections with other countries.

Although research has indicated a negative impact of international trade, the volume of global trade shows that many countries recognize that engaging in international exchanges provides their countries many advantages.

Meanwhile, economic incentives can be established within cultural elements. Governments build upon people’s needs and interests to grow the economy.

Political partnerships

Obtaining economic gains is not only the reason for political alliances. Countries seek coalitions with other countries as countries vary in their levels of development.

Usually, developing countries seek assistance from more developed countries.

In the research by Alesina and Dollar (1998), foreign aid is provided based on political alliances and strategic considerations.

This study indicated that the United States, for example, donated to Egypt and Israel in the interests of democracy and openness, aside from poverty; while Japan’s and France’s donations to their former colonies have little association with democracy and poverty.

As the saying goes – “two heads are better than one,” the benefits of coalition provide for reasons why countries form political alliances, which were purported to be greater than the costs of not joining.

Spangler (2003, par. 7) explained that countries, those which have greater power or influence over others, can threaten negative repercussions for those who do not join them.

This was elaborated in this article with the United States offering financial aid and political benefits to the nations which joined its alliance against Iraq in 2003.

Cultural interests provide an indirect means for establishing political alliances. Appreciation of culture, travel and tourism are ways of encouraging the economy.


Cultural, economic and political factors have become increasingly interrelated as the global economy has motivated governments to establish alliances.

Political and economic strategies may have initiated these ties as these two factors are unavoidably interrelated. Countries involved in the global economy as there are political as well as economic benefits.

On the other hand, cultural factors become the avenue by which economic interests are built upon. When these cultural elements are provided by the economy, political interests are also promoted.


Alesina, A and Dollar, D (2000). Who gives foreign aid to whom and why?.Journal of Economic Growth 5(1): 33-63. Available at: (accessed 26 December 2016).

Chalabi, M and Burn-Murdoch, M (2013). McDonald’s 34,392 restaurants: where are they? The Guardian. Available at: (accessed 26 December 2016).

Economy Watch (2010). Benefits of international trade. Available at: (accessed 26 December 2016).

Festival de Cannes (2015). The short films selection at the 68th Festival de Cannes. Available at: (accessed 26 December 2016).

IFPI (2014). Digital music report 2014. Available at: (accessed 26 December 2016).

Kosoff, M (2016). Spotify has gobs of data about its 75 million users thanks to ‘selfie culture’. Business Insider. Available at: (accessed 26 December 2016).

Nations online (2016). Countries and languages. Available at: (accessed 26 December 2016).

New York Film Academy (2015). The most comprehensive list of film festivals on the internet. Available at: (accessed 26 December 2016).

OECD (2016). About the OECD. Available at: (accessed 26 December 2016).

Ostheimer, S (2012). World’s best Chinatowns. CNN Travel. Available at: (accessed 26 December 2016).

Sang-hun C and Russel, M (2012). Bringing K-pop to the west. New York Times. Available at: (accessed 26 December 2016).

Spangler, B (2003). Coalition building. Intractability. Available at: (accessed 26 December 2016).

Tomlinson, J (2007). ‘Cultural Globalization’. The Blackwell Companion to Globalization. Ritzer, G. ed. USA: Blackwell Publishing. Available at: (accessed 26 December 2016)

United Nations. (2016). Search results for economic treatises. Available at: (accessed 26 December 2016)

Yahoo (2016). Search results for TESL TEFL. Available at: (accessed 27 December 2016)

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