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Globalization: The European Union as a Model

Produced by Danielle Aucoin, Cleveland High School, 2000

1. Description of the unit

The unit is "Globalization: The European Union as a Model". This unit will identify why Europe has emerged as a center for finance, trade and culture and explain how the EU developed historically as well as the current issues brought up by the enlargement process.

The EU is a major player in world economics and will define politics as well in the era of globalization. Students need to have an understanding of why these countries emerged as dominant nations, how the EU formed out of the post-WWII era, how its goals have changed, and its future role in the global world. Students should begin to understand and identify factors that make nations successful, how they need to compete in the 21st century, as well as a more developed understanding of current political and economic issues that face not only our society, but the world today.

2. Objectives

Students will be able to:

a. Identify the reasons why Western Europe came to power.
b. Define "globalism" as an economic and political term.
c. Map and identify the current members of the EU, as well as the applicant countries.
d. Explain the goals of the EU, including accession criteria for applicant countries.
e. Participate in a simulation in which students will determine whether applicant countries qualify for membership, and on what level.

3. Procedure

This unit will require two and a half weeks to complete and should be done in the spring semester so that the students already have some basic background knowledge up to the end of the Cold War.

Unit: Globalization: The European Union as a Model

DAY ONE (lesson will take 2-3 periods)

Materials: Handout - "What Makes Civilizations Successful? Was the rise of Europe predictable?" (Developed by Dennis Gregg, Washington HS, as part of the Globalizing World History Project).


  • To understand geographic, economic, and other factors that, beginning in the 15th century, paved the way for the emergence of industrial capitalism in Europe in the 18th century.
  • To challenge arguments of historical inevitability and hypothesize the influence of the past.
  • To develop an understanding of history as a history of the world, not simply a history of separate civilizations.
  • To speculate about and analyze the sources of historical inequalities - why some regions of the world have become relatively wealthy and powerful and others relatively poor and weak - by conducting a comparative evaluation of six unnamed civilizations that existed on the planet about 1500.


  • Warm Up Activity: Students answer in journal format the following:
  • What qualities or characteristics make a person successful?
  • Class Discussion (brief): Record responses on board, and discuss those that were repeated at least two or three times.
  • Ask whether those same qualities are necessary for successful civilizations. Discuss briefly.
  • Tell students that they are about to look at some hypothetical civilizations (they're real, but don't tell them that) and make predictions about which of these will be most successful and why.
  • Divide students into groups of six. This is their "home" group. Give each student a copy of the "Scenario" (Student Handout #1). Go over it with them, including the questions they will answer upon returning to the home group.
  • Now give each student in each home group a different one of the six civilization reports.
  • Reorganize students into six "expert" groups by putting all students with Civilization A report together, all with B together, and so on. (Jigsaw)
  • Have students read the reports and answer the questions, which are the same for each civilization and ask students to define assets and liabilities for each one. This should take about 20 minutes.

(This should be it for day one - will continue on day two,)

DAY TWO – continued from yesterday

  • Have students return to their "home" groups, present to each other the information they learned in their "expert" groups, and predict which of the six civilizations is most likely to end up dominating the world in the next couple of hundred years. Each group should do the tasks on Student Worksheet 1.
  • Each group presents its conclusions/predictions to the rest of the class.
  • HOMEWORK - Each student must write a short essay responding to the question at the bottom of the Student Worksheet. Due on Day Three.

DAY THREE - continuation...

  • Ask students in home groups to draw a hypothetical map of the world based on the six civilizations. Ask them to name the actual ones in the descriptions they have been using.
  • Finally, tell the students which civilizations they really are. A = Africa, B = the Americas, C = Ming China, D = the Muslim World/Ottoman Empire, E = India, F = Western Europe.
  • Fast forward to the present day. Ask students to list what they think are the assets and liabilities for the success of a civilization today. Since, Western Europe was our winner we are going to be looking specifically at that region in terms of the global world.
  • Students take notes on short lecture on globalization.
  • Ask students what they think globalization means. Try to draw out correct responses, then give the following definition:
  • Globalization is the movement of goods and capital without attention to national boundaries, It has rapidly increased within the last third of the 20'h century.

What is it driven by? Two things (try to elicit responses)

a) technology, which cannot be undone. Specifically, communication and transportation (internet, cell phones, containerization...)

b) political decisions, which can be altered

What are the consequences?

1. loss of sovereignty (gives way to international organizations)

2. issues of equality - widens the gap b/w rich and poor

-produces winners and losers; losers give the government a role to help them - a political incentive to dismantle globalization

3. mobility creates winners b/c most people are not mobile

4. spread of American ideas - capitalism and democracy

5. different for different countries

  • countries w/ stronger economic/political structures & organizations will do better
  • cultures that encourage mobility will do better

Questions for HOMEWORK: Short answers - explain yourself!

  • Do you need a global society to have a global economy? Why or why not?
  • Is globalization a new form of exploitation of developing countries? If yes, how? If no, why not?

DAY FOUR -Looking at the European Union as a Case Study of Globalization

Materials: Handout - "The European Union: A Guide for Americans" pp. 2-4, 16, 2021,36 Handout - Country report instructions and group assignments.


  • To understand the complexity of forming a European Union in terms of cultural, regional, and language differences.
  • To understand and recognize the global interdependence of the EU and the impact of it on the global economy.
  • To research the major EU member states and candidate countries in an effort to understand their political and socioeconomic issues.
  • To predict what the future of the EUwill look like, geographically, politically, and economically.

Agenda: Begin with class discussion on topic of regional differences. (adapted from Mira Cohen's EU lesson). Ask students if they have ever traveled to different states or regions within the US. Ask if anyone is from a different state. What are the differences that they notice among states/regions? (Foods, dialect, religions, clothing, etc.). You can also ask about student's experiences from other countries. Tie these regional differences into lecture about the formation of the EU - how do these differences create a challenge for the EU?

Students take notes and read from EU Guide handouts.

What is the EU?

It is a treaty-based institutional framework that defines and manages economic and political cooperation among its fifteen member states.

It began in the 1950s by six countries (France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg) in the wake of WWII, as a devastated Europe sought to rebuild its economy and prevent future wars. It was a new concept, that by creating shared sovereignty in matters of coal and steel production, trade and nuclear energy, another war in Europe would be unthinkable. The fundamental goal of the union is to create an ever-closer union among the peoples of Europe.

After 50 years, the EU now has 15 member states (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom).

The EU is preparing for enlargement from Central, Eastern, and Southern European countries to more than 25 members.

There have been 4 enlargements in 5 waves:

  • 1952 - original six - France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg
  • 1973 - Denmark, Ireland, UK 9
  • 1981 - Greece 10
  • 1986 - Spain, Portugal 12
  • 1990 - former E. German states 12
  • 1995 - Austria, Finland, Sweden 15

Membership is open to any European country with stable democratic government, a good human rights record, a properly functioning market economy, and the macroeconomic fitness to fulfill the obligations of membership.


1. to promote economic and social progress

  • single market established in 1993
  • single currency launched in 1999 to be fully integrated by 2002

2. to assert the identity of the EU on the international scene

  • Transatlantic Agenda between US and EU (pp. 20-21)
  • cooperation and leadership in areas ranging from trade liberalization to security and humanitarian assistance.

Four Main Principles

  1. promoting peace, development and democracy
  2. responding to global challenges
  3. contributing to expansion of world trade
  4. building bridges across the Atlantic (People-to-People Contacts)

3. to introduce the "European" citizen

4. to develop an area of freedom, justice, and security

5. to develop a common law

EU Enlargement

1. 1998 - accession negotiations with 6 applicant countries (Hungary, Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Cyprus) All except Cyprus are former Communist bloc countries.
2. 1999 - negotiations with Romania, Slovakia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Malta begun. All except Malta are former Communist countries.
3. Turkey has had ongoing negotiations for accession, but has not met the criteria.
4. Norway signed an accession treaty in 1994, but Norwegian voters narrowly rejected membership.

What does all this mean?

  • increase in the freedom of movement
  • consumer choice in range of goods
  • spread of prosperity to less-favored nations
  • unity and diversity (diverse language and cultural traditions)
  • "European-ness" as a cultural phenomenon

DAY FIVE - Library Day

Materials: Extra copies of yesterday's handouts in case students forgot theirs.


  • To practice research skills, including books and internet resources.
  • To research and report on a specific European country to learn more about its political, economic, social, and geographical climate.
  • To build team working skills by working in a cooperative learning environment.
  • To become accustomed to finding useful public information.
  • To acclimate to public speaking and hone presentation skills in a supportive environment.


Students will meet in the library to begin to research their assigned EU member country as a group. They have one day in the library to get as much information as they can. They must use at least 3 books, and no more than 2 internet web sites from teacher approved sources. The students must be creative in their presentation of the travelogue. The guidelines state that they must include a map, information about the country's history, culture, language, economy, and political structure. As extra credit, they can include a travel journal listing and describing the experience of visiting 2 or more of the major historical sites, and 2 or more relevant contemporary sites. This assignment will be due in 2 days time, and must be presented at that time.


Students will have this class period to put together information gathered at the library and on their own time. Presentations are tomorrow.


Materials: Handout - a compare/contrast chart for each student to complete while listening to presentations.


  • For students to begin to synthesize information about each EU country by comparing and contrasting each one on a chart.
  • To improve listening and note taking skills.


Each group will have 5-7 minutes to present their country. During the presentations, each student will be responsible for completing a comparison chart, which will list the different countries and have the categories of history, culture, language, economy, and government.

Reports and charts are due at the end of the period.

DAY EIGHT - The Enlargement of the European Union


  • EU Guide for Americans - p. 8
  • Handout outlining accession criteria
  • Newspaper Articles - "Outlook 2000" & "Poland's EU Bid Raises Farmer's Hopes"
  • Magazine Article – "EU Enlargement: Continent Could be Unified by the End of the Decade"


  • To examine the enlargement policies and processes of the EU.
  • To research applicant countries in preparation for simulation.
  • To determine whether applicant countries meet accession criteria.
  • To analyze country reports and make recommendations on membership to EU.


Pass out and go over Accession Criteria handout. Explain that when a non-member state would like to become a member of the EU, the Commission (the executive body which initiates legislation) compiles and presents a report to the Council (the representative body of the governments of member states) regarding the status and progress of the prospective new member. Unanimity within the Council is required for admission of a new member state. (see p. 8 - EU Guide).

Questions for discussion and thought: Why would a non-member country want to join the EU? Why might it be difficult for non-members to join the union? Why might it be difficult for the EU to accept new members?

Look at Poland as an example: LA Times article 7/13/00 "Poland's EU Bid Raises Farmers' Hopes, Fears". Also, show EU Budget Pie Chart (EU Guide p. 16). Read as a class, then answer the discussion questions above.

Then, look at more general articles on enlargement, to help the students really grasp the issues facing the Council. (Articles - Outlook 2000 and EU Enlargement). Read aloud and discuss.

Explain simulation and pass out student instructions. Students will be in new groups of 4 and have an applicant country assigned to them. We will meet in the library tomorrow for research.

DAY NINE – Researching Applicant Countries in the Library

Materials: Handout - Student Research Instructions

Agenda: Students will research their assigned country keeping the accession criteria in mind. Students will have to determine the political system of the country, what type of economy they have, their human rights record, including protection of minorities and use of death penalty. The report should be no more than one page and outlined in a clear, easy to read format. It is due tomorrow.

DAY TEN - Simulation Day

Materials: Student reports


Students will get back in their original EU groups. Each group will receive an applicant country report that the student's prepared yesterday in the library. The groups must decide on admission to the EU and create a brief report making recommendations for admission. They must include the name of the country, an evaluation of the country based on the three accession criteria, a list of recommendations, and a potential date the country may join the EU. This should be done within the period, and reports cleaned up at home to turn in tomorrow. No more than 2 pages in necessary.


Materials: EU Student Reports


Each EU group will report to the class their findings. There will be an induction ceremony tomorrow for those countries that gained admission.

After the presentations, we can discuss what types of ethnic foods, clothing and music each group should bring to celebrate their induction.

Short debriefing: What did the students learn about the rise of nations, globalization, and the EU? What do they foresee as the future of the global world? For example, will the US be matched in power and influence by the EU? How can an EU-US Alliance help developing nations - or, is the dominance of the west really such a good thing???


Induction Ceremony put on by the students to celebrate the culture and diversity of each of the newly admitted nations and the existing member states. They've earned it.

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