Plan and hold a food and globalization summit

Plan and hold a food and globalization summit

Teams of students explore globalization by researching the issues surrounding one of several controversies involving food: local food culture, food biotechnology,  and food diseases. The teams present their findings and argue their positions.


Students will do the following:

  • Develop a more nuanced understanding of global economic issues and trends.
  • Strengthen their research and analytical skills.
  • Debate controversial topics with the goal of gaining respect for individual differences and common ground.
  • Use technology to explore complex issues.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will elect a committee to plan a globalization summit.
  • Students will work in teams to research food and globalization.
  • Students will create Office PowerPoint presentations in teams that develop a pro- or anti-globalization position.
  • Students will present their positions and debate them at the class summit.
  • Students will create a class Web site for publishing the schedule for the summit, list of participants and positions, and all summit materials.

Lesson procedure


"Globalization" is a word that’s on everyone’s lips these days. How would you define it?

Economists typically define globalization as the integration and interdependence of many nations' and regions' economies around the world. The key idea is that these connections operate on many levels —from pure trade, to the flow of labor and investment across borders, to rapidly expanding communications technologies. In other words, these different economies relate to one another in complex ways.

Even if we agree generally on the definition of globalization, we may not agree on how to value it or respond to it. Some people welcome globalization, while others protest against it.

To explore globalization, you’ll focus on an essential human need: food. Globalization issues are very complex. As you research and analyze these issues, you’ll uncover many challenges and questions. You will find no easy answers. The challenge will be to formulate your own position on globalization and food on the basis of your research. You will present your position and argue for it at the class summit. During this debate, you’ll have to support your position with well-reasoned and well-supported arguments while you listen carefully and respectfully to the positions and arguments of others. The goal will be to agree upon a plan for action.

To prepare for and hold this classroom summit, you will work in several groups.

The first group, a small committee that the entire class will elect at the start of this project, will plan the details of a food and globalization summit that all groups will participate in at the culmination of this project. This group will also create the Web site for posting all schedules and materials.

Meanwhile, the remainder of the class will be divided into three focus groups. Each group will concentrate on one of the following three topics: globalization and local food culture, globalization and food biotechnology, and globalization and food diseases.

Each of these three focus groups will then break up into two teams, one pro-globalization and one anti-globalization.

Teacher Tips

  • Walking in your “foodsteps”

    Ask students to think about one meal they’ve eaten in the past week. How far back can they trace its ingredients? Just back to the refrigerator? To a local store? Or even all the way back to a particular farm or garden?

  • When tensions rise, ears close

    The issues surrounding this summit inspire disagreement. Ask students about the most effective and least effective techniques they’ve used when they disagree with someone. What are some ways in which they can keep a debate from becoming a shouting match?

Student activity

Follow the steps below to guide your students through this lesson plan.

Note teachers: Please download the student activity handouts located in the sidebar under Software and Materials Needed, for additional details about the main activities for this lesson plan.
  • Step 1: "Plan the summit”
  • Step 2, "Define the issues"
  • Step 3: “Develop positions”
  • Step 4: “Meeting of the Minds”
  • Step 5: “Developing positions” 
  • Step 6: “Holding a summit”

Lesson extension activities

Download the Word documents below for each of the different groups to help them make the most of their research on the selected topics. Make the guidelines available on your classroom computers for students to use.

Research Web sites

Preview the following Web sites and add to or adjust them to meet your students' learning needs.

Background and news coverage

  • A Student’s Guide to Globalization
    The Levin Institute site provides definitions, comprehensive interdisciplinary information on globalization, news analyses, links to other helpful sites, and an opportunity to ask experts questions.
    Search for the word "globalization" for recent news coverage and commentary.
  • BBC News Special Report ”Globalization: What on Earth is it about?"



  • Their research and analysis of the issues.
  • The strength and logic of their arguments and the relevance and quality of their supporting evidence.
  • The accuracy, sophistication, and persuasiveness of their PowerPoint presentations.
  • Their presentations and participation during the summit.