The contemporary world is an ever-changing mix of social and political changes. While religious, political, and ethnic conflicts continue, we are currently living in one of the most peaceful eras in the history of the planet. Challenges of the 21st century include emerging technologies, health care, overpopulation, climate change, poverty, illiteracy, disease, and migration. How we choose to deal with these emerging frontiers will shape this unit for future generations.

The contemporary world is an ever-changing mix of social and political changes. While religious, political, and ethnic conflicts continue, we are currently living in one of the most peaceful eras in the history of the planet. Challenges of the 21st century include emerging technologies, health care, overpopulation, climate change, poverty, illiteracy, disease, and migration. How we choose to deal with these emerging frontiers will shape this unit for future generations.

Migrations of refugees and others

  • Refugees as an issue in international conflicts
  • Migrations of “guest workers” to European cities

Ethnic and religious conflicts

  • Middle East
  • Northern Ireland
  • Balkans
  • Horn of Africa
  • South Asia

Impact of new technologies

  • Widespread but unequal access to computers and instantaneous communications
  • Genetic engineering and bioethics


Contrasts between developed and developing nations

  • Geographic locations of major developed and developing countries Economic conditions
  • Social conditions (literacy, access to health care)
  • Population size and rate of growth

Factors affecting environment and society

  • Economic development
  • Rapid population growth
  • Environmental challenges
  • Pollution
  • Loss of habitat
  • Global climate change

Social challenges

  • Poverty
  • Poor health
  • Illiteracy
  • Famine
  • Migration


Relationship between economic and political freedom

  • Free market economies produce rising standards of living and an expanding middle class, which produces growing demands for political freedoms and individual rights. Recent examples include Taiwan and South Korea.


Economic interdependence

  • Role of rapid transportation, communication, and computer networks
  • Rise and influence of multinational corporations
  • Changing role of international boundaries
  • Regional integration (European Union)
  • Trade agreements
    • North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), World Trade Organization (WTO)
  • International organizations
    • United Nations (UN), International Monetary Fund (IMF)


Examples of International Terrorism

  • Munich Olympics
  • Terrorist attacks in the United States (9/11/2001) – motivated by extremism (Osama bin Laden).
  • Car bombings
  • Suicide bombers
  • Airline hijackers

Selected regions that have experienced terrorist activities

  • Middle East
  • Europe
  • North America

Governmental responses to terrorist activities

  • Surveillance and privacy rights
  • Security at ports and airports
  • Identification badges and photos

CLIP ONE: WEATHER vs. CLIMATE CHANGE (from COSMOS)

CLIP TWO: GLOBALIZATION I

CLIP TWO: GLOBALIZATION II

CLIP THREE: MUNICH OLYMPIC MASSACRE

CLIP FOUR: 9/11 BUSH INTERVIEW