November 2008

News of a global economic crisis has dominated the headlines in recent months. Reports of the effects of this crisis come from as far as Iceland, Japan, and Brazil, with reports of unemployment rates spiking across the world. But the roots of this crisis are in the U.S. economy.

In this one-day lesson, students explore a series of political cartoons and consider the relationship between globalization and the economic crisis.


In this lesson, students will:

  • Understand the concept of globalization.
  • Interpret political cartoons and place them in context.
  • Identify the techniques used by cartoonists to express opinions.
  • Consider the connections between globalization and the current economic crisis.


Handout: Political Cartoons in the Press

Video: What is globalization? [P. Terrence Hopmann – 1:48]

Audio Clip with Graphic Organizer:

Although background about the crisis is not not necessary for students to do this activity, you may wish to give your students more context to the global economic crisis. NPR’s audio clip, Global Pool of Money Got Too Hungry, explains the subprime mortgage crisis in the United States, giving context for the economic crisis that followed. Choices provides a graphic organizer to help students understand the information provided in the audio clip.

Additional Online Resources (see below)

In the Classroom

1. Discussing the Global Economy: Write the question “What is globalization?” on the board. Have students brainstorm what they know about globalization. What are different aspects of globalization, for example cultural, economic, or political? What have been some of the effects of globalization on people around the world? What have been the effects of globalization on students’ families and communities? What are some examples of benefits of living in a more connected world? What are some examples of negative effects of globalization?

In the course of this discussion, you may wish to show your students a short Scholars Online video [1:48 minutes] by Professor P. Terrence Hopmann entitled What is globalization? After viewing the clip, ask students to consider how Professor Hopmann explains globalization. What are the different aspects of globalization that he discusses? What are some positive and negative effects of the types of changes that he mentions?

2. Analyzing Political Cartoons: Tell students that they are going to analyze a series of political cartoons to understand different viewpoints about the global economy. Tell students that it is not only the message of these cartoons that is important, but also how the message is conveyed. What techniques does the cartoonist use to convey his or her views?

Divide the class into groups of three or four each. Distribute “Political Cartoons in the Press” to each student and tell students to read the directions carefully. You may wish to spend extra time going over with students the different techniques listed on the handout. Have groups discuss each cartoon and answer the questions provided.

3. Drawing Connections: Ask students to report on what they discussed. In each cartoon, what was the cartoonist’s message? How did the cartoonist express this message? Ask students to point out the different techniques used and their significance. Why do students think the cartoonist chose these particular techniques? How did the techniques used affect the message? What information about the global economy do these different cartoons convey?

Have students consider the current economic crisis. What have students heard about the crisis on the news or from their families? What effects has the crisis had on businesses and people in the United States? What about businesses and people in other countries? Have students seen any effects of the economic crisis in their communities? According to what they know about the global economy and the cartoons they just analyzed, how is the current economic crisis related to globalization?

Let Your Voice Be Heard: Encourage your students to express their views.

  • Contacting Elected Officials
    Students could write letters to elected officials. They can find contact information for the White House at and their U.S. Senators and Representatives at
  • Writing Locally
    Students could write letters to the editor of a local paper. Or they could write an article for the school or community newspaper.

Additional Online Resources

Global Pool of Money Got Too Hungry – National Public Radio
Provides an easy-to-follow audio clip that explains the subprime mortgage crisis in the United States, giving context for the economic crisis that followed. The Choices Program provides a graphic organizer.

Economy – National Public Radio
NPR’s economy page provides up to date articles and audio resources about the effects of the economic crisis around the world.

Global Financial Crisis – BBC News Online
The BBC has a page devoted to its articles, video resources, and analyses of the global economic crisis.

Business – Al Jazeera [English]
Provides articles about the effects of the economic crisis.

Credit Crisis: The Essentials – The New York Times
Provides a page devoted to its resources about the credit crisis, including an overview of the crisis, an interactive media timeline, videos of interviews with people across the United States, and links to articles.

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