- How does international trade influence the lives of American citizens within an increasingly global economy?
Trade has occurred for thousands of years, from within a local area or city, across all continents and involving many, if not all peoples on earth. Lord Macaulay in 1824 said, “Free trade, one of the greatest blessings which a government can confer on a people, is in almost every country unpopular.” So if trade has been so common, how can it be unpopular? How can a government get involved with free trade when it is unsupported by many individuals, groups, or nations?
The influence of global trade on Americans is without question. From the clothes we buy to the cars we drive, the majority of Americans prefer imported goods. There are both benefits and consequences to this growing dependence on imported goods.
Have the class move into their cooperative learning groups. Have the class review the procedures and roles for cooperative groups.
Ask each group to complete the following chart.
- Label one column: Product
- Label one column: Nation in which it was produced
Nation in Which it was Produced
Ask students to work in their groups to identify products and where they came from. Have each student in the group select a product such as a watch and tell the other members of the group where it was made. Record this information on the chart.
Have each group share their findings with the rest of the class.
Use the following questions to summarize the data:
- Are their particular nations from which we receive many of our products?
- Are some products coming from particular regions of the world?
- Are some parts of the world not represented on our chart at all?
- Using a blank map of the world, identify the nations with which we seem to trade and draw lines to make these connections.
Conducting a Survey
Review strategies for conducting a survey with the class. Help with how to conduct a survey and developing the survey form is available on a number of websites.
Divide the class into three member teams. Each team is an action research team, organized to explore the imports used by students and their family and friends.
Ask each team to survey for:
- 10 entertainment goods they use
- 10 items of clothing
- 10 types of automobiles
Have them record their data on their survey/data collection sheet:
Have each group process their data by sharing their survey results with the rest of the class. Use the following questions to help students process their information:
- What nations sent the most exports to the United States?
- What types of products were most commonly used by students and others?
- Use the data from the surveys to construct a map showing imports to the United States. Color code the map to show how much is imported from other countries.
- Ask students to write two generalizations using information from the color coded map.