Globalization Studies @Penn

Globalization Studies at the University of Pennsylvania is an interdisciplinary effort that explores the processes and significance of accelerating expansion of human society in the modern world. This historic change in the human condition seems to result not only from population growth, but from the increase in the numbers of people with whom we routinely interact, and the way this changes the quality of our interaction and the relationships that make up our social lives. 

As the world continues to become more interconnected, and movement between different parts of the world increases, cultural anthropology has to develop a new approach. We have to move from our traditional focus on cultural difference between geographically separate communities to the study of cultural heterogeneity in a single global community, in which the biggest problems come from unevenness in the rates of social change, from rising inequality, and inadequate political and economic organization. In order to do this successfully, we must work with colleagues in other academic disciplines, because globalization is not only cultural: it is social, technological, economic, financial, ecological, and medical.

Our Work

Since 2000 our Department has taught Globalization in Historical Perspective (ANTH012) every Fall semester, by Brian Spooner with Professors Mauro Guillen (Dept. of Management, Wharton) and Lee Cassanelli (History). In 2007 we opened a website (, met monthly in a Faculty Forum (sponsored by the Penn Institute for Urban Research), and started work with a student research group. In 2009 we held a conference of scholars working on globalization in different parts of the  University, which we developed into a publication in 2015: Globalization, The Crucial Phase. In 2013 we introduced a second course: Global Food Security (ANTH561), which Brian Spooner teaches every spring semester with colleagues in the Center for Animal Health and Productivity of the School of Veterinary Medicine. 

To learn more about Globalization Studies, visit our website!

Primary Supervising Faculty from Anthropology

Dr. Brian Spooner: