Background information and didactical perspective

Despite being a relatively new word, it is worth noting that “globalisation” has become a widely used term for global political and economic relationships in just a few years. The term is now used without hesitation to describe an array of developments. In most cases, economic topics like the cross-border trade of goods and services or outsourcing of production to so-called low-wage countries are associated with globalisation. Yet it is not enough for the main focus to fall on economic relationships. When talking about the different dimensions of globalisation, many more aspects must be included. Culture, policy and politics, the economy, and the environment are all dimensions of globalisation that, in general though also in a pedagogical context, require attention (cf. Südwind, 2011: Blickwechsel).

Learning outcomes

Change one’s perspective, handle complexity, understand diversity/differences, connect local and global contexts
Topics / National curriculum
Political determinations/decision-making, policy creation and action, the economy, globalisation, diversity
  • Play
Suitable age 13-16
Time frame 4 x 45 min.
Required materials board/flip chart; buttons; dice; blank flashcards; smartphones/computer with internet access for students; mounting material (magnets / tape / push pins); moderation cards; seewing needles; blank note cards; colored A4 printing paper; pens; computer with internet access and attached projector; mobile phone or other recording device; writing utensils (as needed); white board; scraps of wool and fabric; computer workstations or mobile terminals; world map;
Description The different contexts and interrelationships surrounding globalisation are complex. In the following exercises, we will enable students to grapple and engage with this topic.
Subjects / Topics Biology Communication Cosmopolitan issues Dialogue Diversity English Ethics/Religion Geography History IT Language Media Education Political Studies Signs Social Studies/Civic Education Social Learning Symbols

Lesson plan


  • A = Activity
  • D = Discussion
  • GW = Group work
  • IW = Individual work
  • HW = Homework
  • PW = Partnerwork
  • PTS = Previous Teacher’s Study
  • PO = Pupils opinions
  • PP = Pupil’s presentations
  • TP = Teacher’s presentation


As an introduction, students familiarise themselves with the history of globalisation and its impact on their daily lives.

Phase Content Media, Material

(20 min.)

  • A
  • D

“Map your Stuff”

Students work with products from their everyday lives to recognise that globalisation is a part of their lives, too.

  • Students can point to the impact of globalisation on their everyday lives and describe some fundamental characteristics of globalised products.
  • World map
  • 1 copy of the images “Globalised Products”
  • 1 copy of the info sheet “Globalised Products”
  • Blank notecards (optional)
  • Step 1 Make a circle with students, sitting down. Place the world map in the centre and lay out the “Globalised Products” images around the map.
  • Step 2 Discuss the images. Ask the students, for example:
    • Does this product play a role in your everyday life? If so, what role?
    • Why is it a “globalised product”?
    • Where do you think this product was grown/produced?
  • Step 3 Let the students, one after another, place an image on the part of the map (continent, country, region) where they think the product came from. Keep in mind that more than one answer could be correct and make the students aware of this. While they make their guesses, give the students additional facts about the particular product (see the “Globalised Products” info sheet). You can also have students write down additional globalised products on the blank notecards and place these on the world map, according to their origins.
  • Step 4 Examine the map and the placement of the images together with the students and discuss the different possible reasons for the globalisation of our everyday products and their impact.
Images “Globalised Products”
Info sheet “Globalised Products”
Additional material
  • world map
  • blank note cards

Main section + discussion
(25 min.)

  • A
  • GW

A Short Story of Globalisation

Using the cards on the historical developments in the areas of communication and transportation, students delve into the history of globalisation.

  • Students are able to interpret globalisation as an intensification and acceleration of interconnectivity on the basis of developments in communication and transportation.
  • 1 copy of the cards “Communication & Transportation”
  • 1 copy of the info sheet “Communication & Transportation”
  • Drawing of the diagram on a board/flip chart (see info sheet “Communication & Transport” for a template)
  • Step 1 On info sheet “Communication & Transport”, read the description of the first “Communications” card aloud and let students guess the object in question. Ask the student with the right answer to come to the front and let him/her locate the object on the diagram in the right location on the timeline, with the help of the class. The student then secures the corresponding card on the board or the flip chart. Repeat this step with all “Communications” cards.
  • Step 2 Let 3 students, with the help of the class, place the “Transportation” cards correctly on the diagram and secure these on the board or the flip chart.
  • Step 3 Interpret the result of the exercise together with the students. A possible interpretation would be understanding globalisation as an intensification and acceleration of interconnectivity/global linkages. Reflect with the students on which impacts and consequences these developments have already had on their personal lives.
Cards “Communication & Transportation”
Info sheet “Communication & Transportation”
Additional material
  • mounting material (magnets / tape / push pins)
  • board/flip chart

The abstract economic dimension of globalisation on one hand and the sociocultural dimension, i.e. the people behind this diversity, on the other form two sides of the same coin. In the following exercises, students will come to know these sides better.

Phase Content Media, Material

(25 min.)

  • TP
  • HW

The Economic Dimension of Globalisation: The Story of Stuff

Today’s economy is globalised. How it works and what types of challenges emerge as a result is demonstrated in “The Story of Stuff”.

  • Students can explain the linear system of the material economy and its challenges, as well as the connections between consumer decisions and dependencies.
  • Step 1 Show the video “The Story of Stuff”.
  • Step 2 Have the students provide brief feedback on the video. Tasks such as:
    • Share how you liked the video and why.
    • Summarise the key message and/or points of the video.
    • Collect problems associated with the lin-ear system of the material economy and its possible alternatives.
Additional material
  • computer with internet access and attached projector

Main section + discussion
(20 min.)

  • A
  • PO

My Globalised World

Sociocultural globalisation enriches daily life. One aspect that is often overlooked is that people, who bring with them their own life experiences, are behind and part of such globalisation.

  • Students are able to characterise different aspects of global social inequality on the basis of their own lives and to make a case for sociocultural diversity as enriching society.
  • 1 copy of “My World Map” per student for the collective reflection round
  • 1 copy per student of the worksheet “Where Do ... Come From?”
  • Utensils for colouring (as needed)
  • Step 1 Pass out the worksheets “My World Map” and “Where Do ... Come From?” as well as writing/colouring utensils, if needed.
  • Step 2 Have students answer the questions on the worksheet “Where Do ... Come From?”, possibly using the internet (smartphone/computer). Emphasise that answers can be not only countries but also regions or cities. On the worksheet “My World Map”, students should colour or shade in the countries that match their answers and label them.
  • Step 3 Hang up the additional worksheets “My World Map”. Let every student select a country, region, or city from their personal world map, present why this selection is especially important to them, and colour/shade it in.
  • Step 4

    Reflect and interpret together with the students the result of this activity in order to solidify and compare newly discovered connections and corresponding thoughts. Then assign tasks such as:

    • Name the findings that can be read from/on this world map.
    • What similarities/differences exist between the different world maps?

    A possible interpretation would be that despite many colourful spots, the white spots clearly dominate. Our globalisation is largely one of the Global North. The Global South plays a subordinate role in our perception of the world.

    You could ask students some further questions:

    • Do borders in our globalised world have any significance whatsoever?
    • What would the world look like without globalisation? Share your thoughts on this.
    • Make a list of groups or societies that do not participate in globalisation.

Worksheet “My World Map”
Worksheet “Where does ... come from?”
Additional material
  • writing utensils (as needed)
  • smartphones/computer with internet access for students

Using the example of water, students work with the ecological dimension of globalisation. The availability of clean drinking water and the concept of virtual water are at the centre of this lesson.

Phase Content Media, Material

(15 min.)

  • A

A Bucketful of Water

Water is not just water. How much (or how little) clean drinking water is actually available to us humans?

  • Students are able to determine how much clean, fresh water is available for human beings.
  • Students are able to identify the global impact and consequences of high water consumption.
  • Students are able to recognise the unequal distribution of clean water.
  • 1 copy of the worksheet “A Bucketful of Water” per student
  • Step 1 Pass out the worksheet “A Bucketful of Water”. Have students fill in the water bucket according to the instructions.
  • Step 2 Discuss the filled-in bucket of water. Ask, for example:
    • What does the bucket show?
    • Did you expect this result? Why or why not?
    • Writing utensils (as needed)
Worksheet “A Bucketful of Water”
Additional material
  • writing utensils (as needed)

Main section + discussion
(30 min.)

  • A

Virtual Water

Virtual water? Never heard of it! The concept of virtual water shows students how much water is required for certain things to be produced.

  • Students are able to explain the concept of virtual water and to provide reasons for why consumer behaviour in the Global North is connected to water pollution in the Global South.
  • 1 copy of the worksheet “Virtual Water” per student
  • Step 1 Pass out the worksheet “Virtual Water”. Have the students read the text and clarify relevant questions about the content. Then have students play the matching game.
  • Step 2 Solve the matching game:
    • 1 pack of chips: 180 litres
    • 1 apple: 70 litres
    • 1 chocolate bar: 2,000 litres
    • 1 egg: 200 litres
    • 1 litre of milk: 1,000 litres
    • 1 pork schnitzel: 1,200 litres
    • 1 piece of recycled paper: 100 millilitres
    • 1 computer: 20,000 litres
    • 1 pair of leather shoes: 8,000 litres
    • 1 car: 400,000 litres
    • 1 T-shirt: 2,700 litres
  • Step 3 Discuss the virtual water concept with the students. Ask them, for example:
    • Is the consumption/the pollution of water worldwide fairly distributed?
    • What ways of saving (virtual) water can you think of? Put your ideas to the test: Is it really possible? And how would it be possible? For whom is it possible, for whom would it not be? What would change as a result?
Worksheet “Virtual Water”

In conclusion, students learn to recognise global connections using distorted maps and to expand their view beyond the world of economic growth.

Phase Content Media, Material

Introduction + main content
(20 min.)

  • PW
  • PO

Different Maps – One World

Students engage with world maps whose surfaces do not represent the actual size of these countries but their proportional relation to a global topic.

  • Students are able to make global connections between the Global North and the Global South on the basis of population size, welfare/affluence, CO2 emissions, and polluted drinking water.
  • 1 copy of the worksheet “Different Maps – One World” per student pair
  • Step 1 Write the following 4 card headings in no particular order on the board or flip chart: Number of residents, World population, Co2 emissions, Polluted drinking water.
  • Step 2 Pass out the worksheet “Different Maps – One World” (1 copy for every 2 students). Explain to the students that the surface area of the individual countries does not represent their actual size but has been adapted in relation to the card headings.
  • Step 3 Have the students match the card headings to the right region on the world map.
  • Step 4 Interpret the results (see info sheet “Different Maps – One World”). Discuss and reflect with the students about the results. Ask them, for example:
    • What statements could be made on the basis of this map about fair distribution, North-South-relations, and resource consumption? Provide the reasons behind these claims.
  • Step 5 Use, for example, the topic of polluted drinking water to transition to the next exercise.
Worksheet “Different Maps – One World”
Info sheet “Different Maps – One World”
Additional material
  • board/flip chart

Main section + discussion
(25 min.)

  • A
  • PO

Outlook: Another World Is Possible

If you look past your own backyard, you find people and societies whose values and goals are not oriented solely on economic growth. Specifically, students become familiar with four provided examples and with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.

  • Students are able to compare concepts for alternative development and alternative lifestyles from around the world, as well as to explain and provide reasons for what they do or don’t like.
  • 1 copy of the info sheet “Another World Is Possible”
  • Mounting material (magnets/tape/push pins)
  • Step 1 Hang up the four pages of the info sheet “Another World Is Possible” or place them on the floor.
  • Step 2 Students familiarise themselves either alone or in pairs with the four concepts and the SDGs.
  • Step 3 Have the students choose a concept that they like the most personally. Discuss with the students their choices.
  • Step 4 Together with the students, reflect on these concepts in order to solidify what they have experienced and to relate it to their previous knowledge about the subject. Assign tasks such as:
    • Share which concept you liked or disliked and explain why.
    • Briefly present particular similarities and particular differences between these concepts or of a particular concept.
    • Briefly discuss in which world you would like to live.
Info sheet “Another World Is Possible”
Additional material
  • mounting material (magnets / tape / push pins)