A World in Crisis and a Technological Revolution

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  • 0:01 Lesson of Modernity
  • 0:25 Crises and…
  • 2:55 Social Cooperation and…
  • 5:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

In this lesson, you will explore the modern problems and solutions of a globalized world. Then, test your understanding with a brief quiz about the benefits and risks of the information age.

Lessons of Modernity

Share. Play well with others. Be nice. I've heard it said that everything you need to know, you learned in kindergarten. Guess what? It's true. We live in a modern world, with modern problems and modern technologies. As we develop more and more into a global community, modern nations keep realizing that the best solutions are the ones we all learned when we were five: cooperate.

Crises and International Solutions

The modern world has several issues it must address. In terms of the environment, modern science has indicated that pollution is contributing to a rise in global temperature at an unprecedented rate. Socially, violent and radical struggles have led to an increased use of terrorist warfare across the world. Economically, several major nations, including the United States, experienced a sharp economic decline called a recession around 2009. Politically, revolutions in the Arabic world toppled governments, while politics in European nations and the United States have stagnated in divisive arguments.

The modern world is full of problems, each one requiring modern solutions. In a world that is increasingly globalized in every way, the best solutions often seem to require international cooperation. In the last few decades, the multinational organization called the United Nations has grown in power and efficiency, expanding its reach through new branches, like the Economic and Social Council to handle financial matters, the World Health Organization to resolve medical issues, and UNESCO to handle cultural heritage. The United Nations works by organizing major nations around the world in the spirit of cooperation. Together, world nations work for mutual gain and have the power to impose trade restrictions as a way to discourage abuses of power or human rights. There are currently 193 members of the United Nations, over 3 times the original number since it was founded after World War II.

International cooperation has proven to be an effective solution to modern problems, and the United Nations is not the only organization to use it. Other multinational organizations handle a diverse array of issues. One major institution is the World Trade Organization, founded in 1995 to supervise and maintain international trade. By creating a standard framework for trade that crosses cultures, political systems, and currencies, the World Trade Organization helps nations maintain fair and balanced systems of trade. The WTO can set standards of quality, ensure fair prices for labor and production, and protect the rights of all trade partners, both big and small. There are currently 160 active members of the World Trade Organization, and the organization is examining policies designed to assist nations develop industrial economies. Handling the open market leads to lots of debates and difficult issues, but the WTO has demonstrated the benefit of cooperation.

Social Cooperation and Technology

International cooperation is a powerful thing, and governments are not the only ones to realize this. In 2010, discontented citizens of several Arabic and African nations turned to international cooperation to enact change, resulting in rulers being deposed in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. This period is called the Arab Spring and has also seen major protests and uprisings in Bahrain, Syria, Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Israel, and Sudan. Instead of coming together through formal multinational organizations, the people of the Arab Spring relied on a brand new outlet of communication: social media.

Social media is something that most of us are probably familiar with. I mean you're taking a course on global politics via the Internet right now, so I'm guessing you understand the digital world. As examples like the Arab Spring demonstrate, the Internet and the digital age have created an entirely new system of communication in which people from every part of the world can interact. There are only a few points in history where society has changed so quickly and so dramatically due to new technology. Moments like these are called technological revolutions. There have been only 13 periods in all of human history where technology completely altered cultures across the globe, including this one. To give you an idea of the degree to which experts expect this to change the world, other technological revolutions include the development of agriculture 12,000 years ago and the Industrial Revolutions that lead to modern economies in the 19th century.

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