Lesson #25 – A Look at Our “Flat World”

A question for today… Is the American civilization (or, if you prefer, empire) headed for collapse? Two very interesting, and very different, takes on this one come from Jared Diamond and Kirkpatrick Sale.

Jared Diamond: Many of you have probably at least seen Jared Diamond’s book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. (He’s also the author of Guns, Germs and Steel.) Diamond is currently a professor of geography and environmental health sciences at UCLA.

Here’s a transcript from a 2002 appearance by Diamond on Australian radio.

Kirkpatrick Sale: Sale is an author and technology critic. (He’s referred to himself as a ‘neo-Luddite.’) You’ll probably either love him or hate him, but there’s no denying he makes for interesting reading.

Here’s a 2005 essay by Sale on what he sees as the impending collapse of the American empire.

: You can either work alone or in a pair on this one. Read the two sources, making note of the factors they each identify in the collapse of civilizations/empires. As you probably guessed, I want to know which of the two views you believe better captures where America is headed. We’ll hear what you have to say later in class.


I wanted to carve out a few moments to talk about The World Is Flat‘s Chapter 1, “While I Was Sleeping.” As another sign of my own nerdiness, I’ve come up with my ten “talking points” from the chapter, but I’d also like to know what you found most memorable.


The World Is Flat – Chapter 2 – “The Ten Forces That Flattened the World” – As you might have noticed, this is a LOOOOOONG chapter. We’ll divide it up. 2 of you will claim each of the ten flatteners. We’ll have you do that today.

The last 30 minutes of the period are yours to work with your “flattener” group on your reading and write-up. Remember that I am thinking 200-300 words is about the right range. You can simply post it to the blog for us to make use of them during our next class. (There is the “Flattener Blog Entry” created for this purpose.) Please post there and clearly identify both which “flattener” you are describing and the members of your group as well. Obviously, posts not made by class time are too late to be of much use to us.

Flattener #1:
Flattener #2:
Flattener #3:
Flattener #4:
Flattener #5:
Flattener #6:
Flattener #7:
Flattener #8:
Flattener #9:
Flattener #10:

Here are a few additional resources that might help you out.

HOMEWORK for next session – Monday, May 12th

We’ll go over the ten “flatteners” in class, so be ready to present on yours. The entry for you to post your blog summary is also ready.

Please try to make up the Macroeconomics and International Economics Quiz ASAP if you need to. Remember to finish up any missing Naked Economics Blog Entries as well. (There is also an Extra Credit Blog Entry posted if you are interested in that.)

Your first blog entry for The World Is Flat is posted and due before class on Tuesday.

Remember that the three “short essay” questions from Tueday’s exam should be turned in by next Tuesday. (Either print out or email as an attachment.) You can choose any three of the ten questions listed on Tuesday’s blog.

On Tuesday, we’ll do the quiz on the 40 countries. (There is a word bank for you to use.)

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