Carleton College:
Political Science

Fall & Winter 2000-01

China Trip

Mexico Trip

Pol. Sci. 386
Globalization and Political Change: Mexico and China (12 credits)

Prof. Roy Grow

Prof. Al Montero

Schedule (Fall & Winter, 2000-01)

(a) Fall (6 credits)

Class work at Carleton, field trips to local production sites, offices.

(b) December (two weeks) (3 credits)

On-site work in either China or Mexico, individual travel at end of site work

(c) Winter (3 credits)

Once-a-week meetings; paper and report preparation, formal presentation of findings. All work in this Winter course must be completed before credit granted for field trip class.


This class will look at the consequences of economic globalization in two very different societies-China and Mexico. We will ask questions about the impact of economic change, the responses of local communities, the role of governments in regulating or moderating this change, and the importance of international institutions (e.g., NAFTA, WTO) in shaping local responses.

The analysis of the impact of globalization on different regions of the world is one of the most exciting new trends in both Political Science and Political Economy. New research is bringing together economists and political scientists in a comparative study of institutions, government regulation, and macro-economic trends.

This course will take students to the heart of this emerging research, introduce them to the new literature, instruct them on research methodology, take them abroad for on-site work, bring them back to campus for an examination of the data they have discovered, and assist them in explicating their findings.


Our course will spread across two terms (Fall and Winter), punctuated by a two week field trip in December.

Our first term (6 credits) will be devoted to mastery of the new literature in this field, examination of the methodologies used by different analysts, and group discussions about the research we will undertake.

On the field trip (3 credits) in December , we will split the group into two sections-one working in Mexico under the direction of Al Montero, the other working in China with Roy Grow. Students may travel on their own after the formal field work is completed

In our second term (3 credits) we will bring the two groups back together, share our results, write our reports, and make our formal presentations.

Class Format

The photos in this section were taken during Prof. Grow's 1999 Political Economy Seminar. The class worked on a project for the Tennant Corporation in Minneapolis.

With Vice President Bill Strang

In form, our course will be shaped by a "real-world problem." Students will learn to break the problem into manageable parts and figure out analytic techniques to solve each of the problems.

1. Teams. Our class will constitute itself as a "consulting team" and take on a real world corporate "customer" such as Medtronic, 3M, or Honeywell.

2. Problem statement. Our "customer" will pose a problem to the team: "Our firm will build a new production facility in either Mexico or China. But we have only enough capital for one facility. Which location is best for us?"

3. Investigation. The student team will work at the company headquarters with the corporate customer, try to understand the customer's needs, hopes, constraints.

4. First term class work. During our first term, classes will focus on the following: (a) Breaking down customer's large problem into a series of understandable and measurable questions; (b) Examining/mastering academic literature on these questions; (c) Developing a research strategy for each question; (d) Agreeing on kinds of data/information that will lead to answers.

Working up the project report

With Tennant CEO Janet Dolan

5. On site field work. Our class will split into two groups for a twelve-day period of on-site field work and data collection; (a) Mexico. One group will go to Mexico with Al Montero. This group will visit three areas: Mexico City, Tabasco/Chiapas, and the Texas-Mexico border area; (b) China. The other group will go to China with Roy Grow. This group will visit three comparable sites: Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong/Hong Kong border area.


Bill Strang with Carleton class

6. Second term work. The two groups will come back together, debate possibilities, search for answers. Specifically, the entire class will: (a) Compare data/information obtained in Mexico and China; (b) Debate the meaning of their data/findings, and evaluate this data in context of research findings by scholars in this field; (c) Come to conclusion about which site is best for our "customer"; (d) Write an extended report; (e) Give formal presentation to company officers.

Carleton presentation at Tennant headquarters 

Field Trip Work

Each of the groups will pursue parallel research while on site. Each will visit three different areas, talk to government officials, examine factory operations, look into local conditions, and chart demographic phenomena. The basic idea is to collect similar data in each society, talk to similar officials, and visit the same sort of locations.




The Forbidden City in Beijing

Beijing. Students will fly from Minneapolis and stop first in Beijing, the capital of the People's Republic of China. Beijing is the site of China's national ministries, People's Congress, and national banking institutions. The group will spend 4-5 days in this city, examining the attitudes of national figures, looking into regulatory issues, talking to American and Chinese officials on the spot. The group will isit several joint venture operations in the greater metropolitan region. While in Beijing, the group will also take in a bit of sightseeing-traveling to the Great Wall, visiting the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.


Textile factory in central China


Shanghai. Next, the group will move to Shanghai. While Beijing is China's political center, Shanghai is its financial capital. Here are located most of the great banking and financial houses, and some of China's greatest investment programs. Shanghai is also a center of manufacturing and in the vicinity are some of China's great automobile, electronic, and hi-tech firms. As well, Shanghai has created one of China's most energetic development zones-the PuDong New Development Region-just across the river. The group will visit Chinese and American firms, talk to local entrepreneurs, collect data.


Hong Kong street scene


Hong Kong. The group will complete its formal investigation in Hong Kong. This is one of Asia's most vibrant cities-heralded as the greatest capitalist bastion in the world. In Hong Kong, the group will examine the hi-tech manufacturing that is so well-known in the region, and try to get a sense of what makes production in this region so efficient and profitable. As well, the group will look at the changes in Hong Kong that have occurred since the 1997 return of the British colony to China, and try to gauge whether the area continues to be an important location for foreign investment and production.

Hong Kong harbor

Post-Seminar Travel. After the seminar adjourns, students may continue their travels-both in China and in other parts of Asia (or, perhaps, stop in Hawaii on the way back.)



Mexico City. Students will fly from the Twin Cities to Mexico City, the administrative and financial capital of Mexico. Mexico City is one of the world's largest cities with 18 million inhabitants. This metropolis reflects virtually every dimension of Mexico's economic and political development: the stock market and financial center where much of the 1994-95 peso crisis produced human and economic tragedy, armies of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that provide services that the public sector once promised to all citizens, and a city government run by the leftist opposition leader, Cuauhtomoc Cárdenas, who will, in 2000, challenge the Institutional Revolutionary Party's (PRI) seventy-one year hegemony over the presidency.

Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacán

Students will meet with business and political leaders as well as NGO activists during a 4-5 day stay. Students will also visit the factories of an American multinational auto assembler to examine how Mexico's industries are linked with transnational systems of production. The trip to Mexico City will also include a journey to the Aztec ruins at Teotihuacán, which features (on a clear day) a stunning view of the snow capped volcano, Popocatepetl, some forty miles away.

Pakal's Temple
Palenque, Chiapas

Tabasco/Chiapas. Villahermosa, the capital city of the southern state of Tabasco is the home to one of the largest petroleum refineries and one of the largest agricultural cooperatives in Mexico. The study of Mexico's many ties to global markets is not complete without an assessment of the role of agricultural and oil exports. Students will visit an agricultural cooperative that has exclusive contracts with McDonald's. The group will also tour the gigantic PEMEX (Petroleros Mexicanos) complex. The governor of Tabasco recently challenged the PRI hierarchy for control of the party, so the political opinions of the tabasqueños will seem quite unique. More compelling still will be a day-long trip to Palenque, the site of breathtaking Mayan ruins, in a zone of Chiapas that is far enough away from the Zapatistas to be safe, but sufficiently under the Mexican state's control to demonstrate the militarization of Chiapas.

Nuevo Laredo/Ciudad Juarez. The trip will end with a visit to the maquiladora sector along the U.S.-Mexico border. Here the grasp of global markets is most evident. Students will tour various plants on the border and witness first hand how their Nike shoes and GAP jeans are made and prepared for global distribution by small- and medium-sized Mexican firms.



Post-Seminar Travel. Students may wish to stay on in Mexico after the seminar ends. They may continue to explore Mexico: Guadalajara, Puebla, Veracruz, and for those who need to see other college students on break, Cancún. Some students may want to travel through Central America to Costa Rica or explore the Caribbean.

Zócalo in Mexico City


PS 120: Intro to Comparative Government (required)

Recommended but not required:

PS 170: Introduction to International Relations and World Politics


Faculty Background

Roy Grow has worked for forty years on Asia economic and political development, and teaches courses on international relations, comparative politics, and political economy. He has used the "corporate customer" case method for several years at Carleton and has taught courses using this strategy at USC, Harvard, MIT, and the Department of State.

Alfred Montero has extensive work in Latin America and Europe, is fluent in both Spanish and Portuguese, and teaches courses in comparative government, political economy and Latin American Studies. He is known for his exciting use of new class room teaching strategies.


Program will pay fees, lodging, some meals, internal bus/auto/air transportation. Student is responsible for roundtrip fare to and from site, some meals (student responsibility estimated at about $1,100.)

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China's Great Wall

Near Guilin in southwestern China

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