The U.S. State of Alaska, traditionally known as America’s “Last Frontier,” is the site of a controversy with global implications that test the United States’ role as a global leader, even as the country grapples with its own energy dependency. The proposal to repeal the ban on oil exploration on Alaska’s North Slope could have significant ramifications globally and nationally. Exploration could generate substantial employment, lower the U.S. trade deficit, and decrease U.S. dependency on oil imports from the Middle East and Latin America. Proponents of exploration insist that wildlife will not be harmed. Opponents, however, assert that species will be endangered. Moreover, many indigenous Alaskans oppose drilling as a threat to their lives; yet many others support it as an economic necessity. Globally, in addition to extended impacts of oil spills, lowered petroleum prices could increase automobile use, contributing to ozone depletion and global warming. This microcosmic simulation, developed for a workshop presentation at the Second Global Studies Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, May 30-June 1, 2009, differs from many simulations in that it is ongoing, variable, mobile, and potentially universally inclusive. Anyone who wishes to participate may submit a new scenario or new roles, or both. Moreover, existing roles may be modified, introducing new perspectives and/or life changes that in turn result in new or changed perspectives on the issue. The key questions to be examined in the course of simulated informal dialogue among the characters are: (1) to whom is the United States accountable as a superpower and global leader within and outside its borders? and (2) who among international organizations is responsible for addressing the potential consequences of potential exploration? The focus on a locally based controversy, namely that of the proposed drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, with potentially enormous national and international ramifications, also highlights the many linkages between globalization and local activities worldwide.
|Keywords:||Alaska’s North Slope, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Global Warming, Oil Dependency, Greenhouse Gases, Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Sovereignty, Classroom Simulations|
Adjunct Associate Professor, Political Science, Long Island University-Brooklyn and City College Center for Worker Education, The City University of New York, New York, NY, USA
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