Accelerating Global Change and Realignments (1900 to Present)

1900 Snapshot

  • Rapid advances in science and technology
  • Increasing global population growth
  • Great Britain, France, and the U.S. control half of world’s land mass and people
  • Japan, Ottoman Empire, Russia, Germany other great powers
  • Africa, India, SE Asia, Oceania mostly peripheries/colonies or semipheripheries
  • Qing Dynasty in China weak, in decline
  • continued European, U.S., Japanese spheres of influence in eastern China
  • Guomindang military and regional warlords compete for power
  • Latin American oligarchies with extensive U.S. and British investments in infrastructure
  • Mexico = much political, social, and economic unrest – pre-revolutionary society
  • Recently united and industrialized Germany desires to be greater global, colonial power
  • ~50 states (including empires) in the world

Key Concept 6.1 Science and the Environment

  1. Rapid advances in science and technology spread throughout the world.
    1. New types of transportation and communication greatly reduced problems of geographic distance.
    2. New scientific paradigms (theoretical patterns or framework) transformed human understanding of the world. One example: theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, big bang theory, OR psychology
    3. The Green Revolution’s use of chemical fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides; irrigation; and machinery in developing states produced food for the growing global population.
    4. Medical innovations increased the ability of humans to survive. One example: polio vaccine, antibiotics, OR the artificial heart
    5. Energy technologies, including the use of oil and nuclear power, raised productivity and increased the production of material goods.
  2. 2. Global population expanded at an unprecedented rate, fundamentally changing humans’ relationship with the environment.
    1. Humans exploited and competed over the earth’s finite resources more intensely than ever before in human history.
    2. Global warming was a major consequence of the release of greenhouse gases and other pollutants into the atmosphere.
    3. Pollution threatened the world’s supply of water and clean air. Deforestation and desertification (expanding deserts) were continuing consequences of human impact on the environment. Rates of extinction of other species sharply accelerated.
  3. Disease, scientific innovations, and conflict led to demographic (population) shifts.
    1. Diseases associated with poverty persisted, while other diseases emerged as new epidemics and threats to human survival. In addition, changing lifestyles and increased longevity (living longer) led to higher levels of certain diseases. One example of diseases associated with poverty: malaria, tuberculosis, OR cholera
      • One example of emergent epidemic diseases: 1918 influenza pandemic, Ebola, OR HIV/AIDS
      • One example of diseases associated with changing lifestyles and longevity: diabetes, heart disease, OR Alzheimer’s disease
  4. More effective forms of birth control gave women greater control over fertility and transformed sexual practices.
    1. Improved military technology and new tactics increased levels of wartime casualties.
      • One example of improved military technology: tanks, airplanes, OR the atomic bomb
      • One example of new tactics: trench warfare OR fire bombing
      • One example of increased wartime casualties: Nanjing, Dresden, OR Hiroshima

Key Concept 6.2 Global Conflicts and their Consequences

  1. Military conflicts occurred on an unprecedented global scale.
    1. World War I and World War II were the first “total wars.” Governments used ideologies, including fascism, nationalism, and communism, to mobilize all of their state resources, including peoples, both in the home/core states and the peripheries/colonies (or former colonies) for the purpose of waging war. Governments also used a variety of strategies, including political speeches, art, media, and intensified forms of nationalism, to mobilize these populations.
      • One example of mobilization of a state’s resources: Ghurka soldiers in India, ANZAC troops of Australia & New Zealand, OR military conscription
  2. The sources of global conflict in the first half of the century varied. Required examples:
    1. imperialistic expansion by European powers and Japan
    2. competition for resources
    3. ethnic conflict
    4. great power rivalry between Great Britain and Germany
    5. nationalist ideologies
    6. Great Depression economic crisis
  3. Europe dominated the global order at the beginning of the 20th century, but both land-based and transoceanic empires gave way to new forms of transregional political organizations by the century’s end.
    1. The older, land-based Ottoman, Russian, and Qing empires collapsed due to a combination of internal and external factors.
      • One example of internal and external factors: economic hardship, political and social discontent, technological stagnation, OR military defeat
    2. Some colonies/peripheries negotiated their independence.
      • One example: India from the British Empire OR Gold Coast (Ghana) from the British Empire
    3. Some peripheries achieved independence through armed struggle.
      • One example: Algeria and Vietnam from the French Empire OR Angola from the Portuguese Empire
  4. Emerging ideologies of anti-imperialism contributed to the dissolution of empires and the restructuring of states.
    1. Nationalist leaders in Asia and Africa challenged imperial rule.
      • One example: Mohandas Gandhi, Ho Chi Minh, OR Kwame Nkrumah
    2. Regional, religious, and ethnic movements challenged both colonial rule and inherited imperial boundaries. One example: Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Quebecois separatist movement, OR the Biafra secessionist movement
    3. Transnational movements sought to unite people across national boundaries.
      • One example: communism, Pan-Arabism, OR Pan-Africanism
    4. Movements to redistribute land and resources developed within states in Africa, Asia, and Latin America - sometimes advocating communism and socialism.
  5. Political changes were accompanied by major demographic and social consequences.
    1. The redrawing of old colonial boundaries led to population resettlements.
      • One example: India/Pakistan partition, Zionist Jewish settlement of Palestine, OR the division of the Middle East into mandatory states
    2. The migration of former colonial subjects to imperial metropoles (core state – often the capital city) maintained cultural and economic ties between the colony and the metropole – even after the dissolution of empires.
      • One example: South Asians to Britain, Algerians to France, OR Filipinos to the U.S.
    3. The expanding numbers of conflicts led to various forms of ethnic violence and the displacement of peoples resulting in refugee populations.
      • One example of ethnic violence: Armenia, the Holocaust, Cambodia, OR Rwanda
      • One example of displacement of peoples: Palestinians OR Darfur
  6. The global balance of economic and political power shifted after the end of World War II and rapidly evolved into the Cold War.
    1. The United States and the Soviet Union emerged as superpowers, which led to ideological struggles between capitalism and communism throughout the world.
    2. The Cold War produced new military alliances, including NATO and the Warsaw Pact, and promoted proxy wars in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
    3. The dissolution of the Soviet Union effectively ended the Cold War.
  7. Although conflict dominated much of the 20th century, many individuals, groups – including states – opposed this trend. Some individuals and groups, however, intensified the conflicts.
    1. Groups and individuals challenged many wars of the century, and some promoted the practice of nonviolence as a way to bring political change.
      • One example of challenging war: Picasso in his Guernica, the Cold War anti- nuclear movement, OR Thich Quang Duc by self-immolation
      • One example of nonviolence: Gandhi OR Martin Luther King
    2. Groups and individuals opposed and promoted alternatives to the existing economic, political, and social orders.
      1. One example: communist leaders such as Lenin and Mao Zedong; the Non-Aligned Movement, which presented an alternative political bloc to the Cold War; participants in the global uprisings of 1968; OR the Tianamen Square protesters that promoted democracy in China.
  8. Militaries and militarized states often responded to the proliferation (increase) of conflicts in ways that further intensified conflict.
    1. One example: promotion of military dictatorship in Chile, Spain, and Uganda, the U.S. promotion of a New World Order after the Cold War, OR the buildup of the “military-industrial complex” and arms trading
    2. More movements and violence against civilians to achieve political aims.
      • One example: Irish Republic Army, ETA (Basque separatists), OR Al-Queda
    3. Global conflicts had a profound influence on popular culture.
      • One example: Dada, James Bond, Socialist realism, video games

Key Concept 6.3 New Forms of Global Economy, Society, and Culture

  1. States responded to 20th century economic challenges in a variety of ways. A. In Communist China and the Soviet Union, governments controlled their national economies. One example: Fire Year Plans OR the Great Leap Forward
    1. In the U.S. and some European states, government played a minimal role in their national economies at the beginning of the century. With the onset of the Great Depression, governments took a more active role in economic life.
      • One example: the New Deal OR the Fascist corporatist economy
    2. In newly independent states after World War II, governments often took on a strong role in guiding economic life to promote development.
      • One example: Nasser’s promotion of economic development in Egypt OR the encouragement of export-oriented economies in East Asia
    3. At the end of the 20th century, many governments encouraged free market economic policies and promoted economic liberalization.
      • One example: U.S. – Ronald Reagan, Great Britain – Margaret Thatcher, China – Deng Xiaoping, OR Chile - Pinochet
  2. States, communities, and individuals became increasingly interdepen-dent – facilitated by the growth of global, cooperative organizations.
    1. New international organizations formed to maintain world peace and to facilitate and encourage international cooperation. One example: League of Nations, United Nations, OR the International Criminal Court
    2. New economic institutions spread the principles and practices of free market economics throughout the world. One example: International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, OR World Trade Organization (WTO)
    3. Humanitarian organizations developed to respond to humanitarian crises throughout the world. One example: UNICEF, Red Cross and Red Crescent, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, OR World Health Organization (WHO)
    4. Regional trade agreements created regional trading blocs designed to promote the movement of capital and goods across national borders. One example: European Union, NAFTA, ASEAN, OR Mercosur (Southern Common Market)
    5. Multinational corporations began to challenge state authority and autonomy.
      • One example: Royal Dutch Shell, Coca-Cola, OR Sony
    6. Movements throughout the world protested the inequality of environmental and economic consequences of global integration.
      • One example: Greenpeace, Green Belt in Kenya, OR Earth Day
  3. Old assumptions about race, class, gender, and religion were challenged, often using new technologies to spread reconfigured traditions.
    1. The concept and principles of human rights gained support throughout the world. One example: U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Women’s Rights, OR the end of the White Australia policy
    2. Increased interactions among diverse peoples sometimes led to formation of new cultural identities and exclusionary reactions.
      • One example of new cultural identities: Negritude - pride in the cultural and physical characteristics of the African heritage
      • One example of exclusionary reactions: xenophobia (fear of foreigners), race riots, OR citizenship restrictions
    3. Believers developed new forms of spirituality and chose to emphasize particular practices within existing faiths and apply them to political issues.
    4. One example of new forms of spirituality: New Age religions, Hare Krishna, OR Falun Gong
      • One example of application of religion to political issues: fundamentalist movements, Liberation Theology
  4. Popular and consumer culture became more global.
    1. Sports were more widely practiced and reflected national and social pride. One example: World Cup soccer, Olympics, OR cricket
    2. Changes in communication and transportation technology enabled the widespread diffusion of music and film. One example: Reggae OR Bollywood


  • nationalism
  • colonial/national rebellions and independence movements
  • globalization - increased interactions between people and states
  • transportation, communication, travel, trade, and cultural diffusion
  • multinational organizations – League of Nations, United Nations, IMF, World Bank, etc.
  • economic and political power of multinational corporations
  • industrial based environmental degradation and deforestation
  • military and economic alliances
  • patriarchy in much of the developing and underdeveloped states