Sociology faculty Bhavani Arabandi (assistant professor), Stephen Sweet (associate professor) and Alicia Swords (associate professor) published “Testing the Flat World Thesis: Using a Public Dataset to Engage Students in the Global Inequality Debate”.
The article appears in the current issue of Teaching Sociology. The article introduces and evaluates a learning module to engage students in the global inequality debate using Google Public Data World Development Indicators. The study articulates the importance and urgency of teaching global issues to American students; situates the central debate in the globalization literature, paying particular attention to global inequalities and trajectories of convergence or divergence in life chances; and demonstrates the value of engaging students in the analysis of macrolevel data. Data presented enables students to test assumptions concerning gaps in opportunities that separate wealthy societies from poor societies and to determine whether these gaps are narrowing or expanding. Depending on the course content and combinations of indicators studied, students reach different conclusions concerning the merits of a “flat world” thesis. They study finds that teaching about global inequalities and engagement with global data reshapes students’ beliefs and enhances student interest in the concerns of global relations.