Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tribalism vs. globalization

A question I ask of my geography students is "in an era of globalization is geography more or less relevant?". As this commentary by Kay highlights, geographic context, particularly cultural context, matters deeply in today's global society.

Sustainability is about the effective integration of environment, economy

Most people recognize that we have a global environment. Increasingly we are a globalized economy. We are far from being a global society.

Tribalism is at the heart of our societal division. But what differentiates us, need not divide us. To build an appreciation for this distinction we need to:
  • break away from dogma and its oppressive hold over culture
  • facilitate a better appreciation for fundamental value differences and constructs between cultures
  • encourage cross-cultural exchanges, dialogue and communication to better facilitate awareness and understanding
Of course, these actions are antithetical to the control that stasists seek to impose on society: thus, they often are dismissed as heresy and treated as seditious acts by those who yield power.

Perhaps for the first time in human history information technology is such that oppressive forces can no longer preclude free expression and information exchange between different cultures, and it is this belief that fuels a continued sense of optimism for future change and sustained globalization.