affects us all, and yet the term itself is hard to define. Generally,
it can be understood to mean the rapid increase in the mobility
of people, capital and information in recent years. Globalization
has changed the world on many levels: it affects the products
we buy, the foods we eat, the movies we see, the laws we make
and the wages we earn. The North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA) is just one factor in this larger movement, but it is
an interesting example of how the forces of change are playing
out around the world.
are many sides to the NAFTA debate. Labor leaders, environmentalists
and free trade advocates have very different ideas about what
the future of NAFTA should be. In very rough terms, it can be
said that there are two main camps. On the one hand are those
who believe that free trade will lead countries to focus on products
that reflect their comparative
advantage. In this view, by making
production more efficient, everyone will benefit because there
will be more jobs and cheaper
goods available than ever before. The opposing camp believes
that, by going global, transnational companies and groups like
the World Trade Organization (WTO) are undermining the power
of elected governments and the regulations and social safety
nets that have been created in the last 100 years to protect
workers and the environment from the excesses of capitalism.
the CLAS 2003 Summer Institute, teachers from around the Bay
Area engaged in discussions with experts in a variety of fields — from
water pollution along the border, to Mexican agriculture, to
U.S.–Mexican diplomacy — who brought to the table
a variety of perspectives on NAFTA. On the last day of the workshop,
we tried to process what we had learned by asking the following
are its pros and cons?
next? Can NAFTA be reformed?
web site is an attempt to bring the discussion we began at the
conference to a wider audience.