Insegnamento a.a. 2023-2024

20905 - THE MAKING OF THE PRESENT - A global history of globalization from St. Helena to Davos

Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English
CIVICA Joint Course
Go to class group/s: 31
M (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12) - IM (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12) - MM (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12) - AFC (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12) - CLELI (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12) - ACME (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12) - DES-ESS (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12) - EMIT (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12) - GIO (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12) - DSBA (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12) - PPA (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12) - FIN (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (I sem.)

Mission & Content Summary


We are now at one of the main “inflection points” in the World’s recent history. In the words of the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a “Global Zeitenwende” (Foreign Affairs, Jan-Feb 2023). A new, still unknown, World order is emerging, characterized by the Western dominance, both in economic and political/ideological terms. Asia – and China in particular, is assertively emerging as a “pivot”, reclaiming a leadership role in World affairs. Many other regional powers are openly asking for a revision of the current balance of power. The growing geopolitical turmoil is having a direct impact on the ongoing process of global integration which has followed the end of the Cold War. According to many, we are now entering a new de-globalization phase, which will likely culminate in a possible fragmentation of the World’s global economic space. How many possible futures are ahead? Are we heading to a new equilibrium, or towards another devastating hegemonic war? Leveraging on the heuristic power of historical analysis, this course is offering a toolkit useful to better understand the dynamics at work in the crucible of the present.


This course will be held jointly with Sciences Po, Paris (Professor Mario Del Pero, Department of History) and has been developed within the framework of CIVICA, an alliance of ten leading European higher education Institutions in the social sciences co-funded by the European Union under the Erasmus+ programme.


The course will examine 19th-21st century world history by looking at the processes of global integration/disintegration that have marked the last two centuries. It will outline and discuss the fundamental drivers and consequences of various waves of ‘globalization’ - from the early 1800 to today - as well as the resistances they generated, their unintended effects, and the backlashes that often ensued, with globalization and integration being followed by deglobalization and fragmentation.


After an opening session dedicated to the historiographical and methodological challenges in the study of the history of globalization/de-globalization, the course will follow a chronological pattern and consist of six “seasons”. The first and second will focus on the imperial, economic and technological drivers of the first globalization of the mid/late-19th and early 20th centuries, its winners and losers. The two episodes of season 3 will deal with the contestation and ultimate implosion of the first globalization between World War I and the global recession of the 1930s. Season 4 and 5 will examine the reload of globalization following World War II and the complex co-existence between a partially globalized capitalist order and the Cold War geopolitical bipolar regime. The last two episodes will deal with the post-1970s new, and in many ways radical, phase of globalization, its many contestations and its current crisis, highlighting the many similarities, and the differences, with the first wave of global integration described in the first episodes. Each episode will be mirrored in a parallel class (mostly, even if not exclusively) run at Bocconi. These parallel classes will form a dedicated teaching program, “When History Rhymes”, that will show how many suggestions can be taken from the past events in order to achieve a better understanding of the present and of the multiple futures ahead.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)


At the end of the course student will be able to...

Know and critically understand the main drivers of the globalization waves of the last two centuries. Additionally they will be able to use historical knowledge as a heuristic comparator useful to achieve better understanding of the present dynamic of slow-and de-globalization, in order to imagine some typologies of future scenarios.


At the end of the course student will be able to...

At the end of the course students will be able to concretely evaluate the scenarios which charaterize the next decades of the global political, economic and social scenario at the global level. They will be able to provide concrete suggestion to international companies, policymakers, politicians, consulting companies and civil servants.

Teaching methods

  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Online lectures
  • Guest speaker's talks (in class or in distance)
  • Individual assignments
  • Group assignments
  • Interactive class activities on campus/online (role playing, business game, simulation, online forum, instant polls)


Online lectures will be dlivered alternatively in Paris and Milan depending on the location of the instructor


Guest speakrs will be invited to give introductory talks both at Bocconi and in Paris introducing some topics of the course


Individual/group assignments will be optionally available for the students upon request


Interactive class activities will take place if a gathering in Paris of the entire class will be made possible.

Assessment methods

  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
x x  
  • Active class participation (virtual, attendance)


Attending students will be evaluated on the basis of a written exam (two midterms). The two midterms intend to ascertain the knowledge of some basic historical events which are relevant for understanding the basic message of the course, i.e. the drivers of the trends in globalizaton, slowbalization and deglobalization processes.


The average grade of the two midterms (arithmetic average) will count for 50% of the final grade.


Each student will be evaluated for the remaining 50% of the grade on the basis of a written individual essay which will concern one specific section of the program. Students will be requested to refer to both primary and secondary sources deepening their knowledge of a specific section/topic of the program in order to assess their knowledge of the globalization/deglobalization dynamics.


The final grade will also take into account class participation and attendance, awarding the students with up to 1 (one) point of the final grade.


Non attending students will be subject to the same evaluation process as attending students. They will additionally have to provide a 2,000 words review of a book agreed with the instructor.

Teaching materials


Readings made available in blackboard by the instructors



Readings made available in blackboard by the instructors


An additional book agreed upon with the instructor.

Last change 28/06/2023 16:58