Globalization in Progress: Understanding and working with World Urbanization

Globalization in Progress: Understanding and working with World Urbanization

October 17, 2009, 9am to 6pm

Rainey Auditorium and Mosaic Gallery

Penn Museum (Map)

An activity of the Faculty Forum on Globalization and Cities, Penn Institute for Urban Research (PIUR)

The conference is free and open to the public

Pre-Registration for this conference is now closed. Thank you!


Conference Brochure (Download Brochure & Program in PDF)



Introduce to the Penn community and the public to the variety of Penn’s academic and professional work on globalization as the expansion of global cities and urban networks.

Brief description:

A day of panels with short presentations and discussion, complemented by a display of visual materials, on selected projects of research and application from different parts of the campus, illustrating work in progress in different parts of the world, and showing how they add up to a product that transcends the individual projects. All of Penn's twelve Schools are represented.

Questions addressed:

  1. What causes globalization and makes it possible?
  2. Why are cities and urban life central to the process?
  3. What kind of activities are helping us to understand it and work with it—at Penn and elsewhere?
  4. How can we make the most of it in the coming years?


Globalization is a qualitatively new process of modern change—accelerating change that is producing new social forms and cultural modes, which give rise to new political and economic mechanisms throughout the world. The primary engines of this change are in the world's largest cities, where population is densest and human interaction is most intense. The proportion of the world's population living in cities now exceeds 50% and continues to grow. Cities are growing both in size and density, and their networks link together into global formations that pervade non-urban areas. Soon no part of the world will be isolated from the forces of globalization.
Cities are thus both the engines and the nodes of globalization. Urban life increases interaction between strangers, which accustoms us to novelty, raises our expectations of innovation, and encourages further change. This accelerating rate of comprehensive change takes us into unknown territory. To live in it we innovate in everyday life. To understand it, we must develop new research methods—a constant challenge to our academic as well as our professional communities.
The effort to understand and work with the opportunities offered by such unprecedented change draws on the full range of resources available at Penn, and brings together into a collaborative enterprise projects that until recently were pursued in isolation, with the result that the research experience and the research product are now becoming more truly interdisciplinary, and the overall result transcends the significance of the individual projects.


  • Cheikh Babou, Department of History, SAS
  • Nancy Biller, Global Health Programs, School of Medicine
  • Richard J. Estes, School of Social Policy and Practice
  • James Ferguson, School of Veterinary Medicine
  • David Galligan, School of Veterinary Medicine
  • Mauro Guillen, Lauder Institute and Wharton School
  • John D. Keenan, School of Engineering and Applied Science
  • Janet Monge, Department of Anthropology, SAS
  • Marjorie Muecke, School of Nursing
  • Michael Nairn, Urban Studies
  • Sarah Paoletti, Law School
  • Adriana Petryna, Department of Anthropology, SAS
  • Alan Ruby, School of Education
  • Theodore Schurr, Department of Anthropology, SAS
  • Brian Spooner, Department of Anthropology, SAS, and Penn Museum
  • Marilyn Stringer, School of Nursing

Presenters of Visual Materials

  • Cameron Hu, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
  • Richard Collins, School of Dental Medicine
  • Neal Nathanson, Global Health Programs, School of Medicine
  • Janet Monge, Department of Anthropology, SAS
  • Majorie Muecke, School of Nursing
  • John D. Keenan, School of Engineering and Applied Science
  • Theodore Schurr, Department of Anthropology, SAS
  • Huiquan (Mary) Zhou, School of Social Policy and Practice

Conference Program (Download Program in PDF)

9.00 Susan M. Wachter, Co-Director, Penn Institute for Urban Research

Brian Spooner, Conference Chair

First panel: Society Changes
9.30 Richard J. Estes World Social Situation: 1970-2009
10.00 Theodore G. Schurr Human Genetic Diversity in a Global Context
10.30 Cheikh Babou Hôpital Matlaboul Fawzaini: Diaspora, Faith and Science in Tuubaa, Senegal

Second Panel: How we cope—positive and negative adaptations
11.00 James D. Ferguson, David Galligan Meeting the Food Demands of a Globalizing World
11.30 Janet Monge Global trends in Diet and Nutrition: an evolutionary perspective
12.00 Nancy Biller and Neal Nathanson Salient Issues in global health


Third panel: Organizational implications
1.30 Mauro Guillen The Fallout from the Global Crisis
2.00 Alan Ruby The Globalization of Universities
2.30 Joe Sun, John D. Keenan, Megan Doherty and Christina Catanese Academically-Based Global Service Learning

Fourth Panel: New issues and complications
3.00 Adriana Petryna Clinical Trials Offshore
3.30 Sarah Paoletti Collaborative Responses to Transnational Migration
4.00 Marjorie Muecke, Michael Nairn and Marilyn Stringer Women’s Health in globalizing cities

General discussion and concluding remarks

Co-sponsored by The Penn Institute for Urban Research, Penn Lauder Ciber, Penn Museum, South Asia Center and the Department of Anthropology (SAS).