Global Governance and International Organizations Discussion Questions

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This module will focus on international organizations and their role in development. We will learn about the system of global governance, the organizations that make it up, and the underlying logics that inform the project of development and governance.  How can we best understand international organizations? How do they fit into the global order? Why are they important for development? What is the underlying technological and scientific vision below this mode of governance.

The objective for Module 2 is to better understand the foundations and organization of the contemporary international order. Based on the readings please address the following questions. Don’t forget to complete part 2 where you summarize the additional article you have chosen. Your discussion board posts should be about 650-700 words. APA format, with citation of all sources and page number. 

Read the following:

Barnett, Michael N., and Martha Finnemore. “The politics, power, and pathologies of international organizations.” International organization 53.4 (1999): 699-732. (28 pages)

Weiss, Thomas and Rorden Wilkinson. (2014). “Rethinking Global Governance? Complexity, Authority, Power and Change.” International Studies Quarterly, 58: 207-216 (7 pages)

Scott, J. 1988. “Authoritarian High Modernism.” In Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. Yale University Press. (16 pages)

Cullather, N. 2007. “The Foreign Policy of the Calorie.” American Historical Review. 112(2) . (28 pages)

Please answer all the questions in your discussion post. It would be great if you can answer them together in one mini-essay rather than as series of answers (1, followed by answer 1, etc). Instead read the questions and then write a post that answers them coherently. If you miss a question, that’s okay as long as your answers deal meaningfully with the assigned readings for the week. Will also attach two previous paper on technology and development, that I have done for the same professor. So it doesn’t contradict previous ideas.

1. What is global governance and how does it relate to international organizations? What do you think is the best way to understand the behavior of IO’s? How does global governance relate to development practice?

2. In GTD we seek to understand the relationship between technology and development. What can we learn about IO and government ways of seeing and it’s impact on what can be known and done. Do you think high modernism and its optics are central to contemporary global governance? If not, what techniques and technologies are at work in making the world legible for development intervention?

3.Provide a summary of the article below . Summarize your chosen article and articulate how it helps you better understand global governance and it’s modes of knowing and doing.

Cullather, N. 2007. “The Foreign Policy of the Calorie.” American Historical Review. 112(2) . (28 pages)

 After a day or as soon as its posted before Sunday mid night, will need to respond to two other posting.


Weiss and Wilkinson (2014) tell us that “it is commonplace to state that many of the most intractable contemporary problems are trans-national, ranging from climate change, migration, and pandemics to terrorism, ?nancial instability, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and that addressing them successfully requires actions that are not unilateral, bilateral, or even multilateral, but rather global.” The successful action they are referring to is the idea of global governance. Unfortunately, they go on to inform us that “everything is globalized – that is, everything except politics.” So, how is our world successfully dealing with the aforementioned trans-national issues? Simply put, we’re not. Not successfully anyway. The reason lies with the fact that there exists a “fundamental disconnect between the nature of a growing number of global problems and the current inadequate structures for international problem solving and decision making”. The plans, power to carry them out, and the means necessary for eradicating such vast issues continue to reside within singular state governments rather than cooperatively as a global government. Weiss and Wilkinson stress how this is the recipe for disaster when they analyze the idea of “global governance without global government” and the “gaps” this causes as individual states try to fix only micro-parts of the macro-problems. International organizations come into play by being the means to which these gaps could be filled if states agreed to allow for that. The big reason that an international organization, such as the United Nations, hasn’t been able to assume the role of Global Governor is due to how individual states perceive their intentions or behaviors.

Barnett and Finnemore (1999) delve into many reasons why international organizations (IOs) might not be trusted by everyone, sharing that “not only are IOs independent actors with their own agendas, but they may embody multiple agendas and contain multiple sources of agency.” On top of that, depending on which lens you view an IO through and how you define success, different states are going to have differing opinions on how they judge them. It’s not so simple as an economist deeming a capitalist venture successful or not based on their spreadsheets. The positive progress of an IO in terms of handling global issues can’t always be measured quantitatively. The evaluation of IOs “should be an empirical and ethical matter, not an analytic assumption.” But even the most well intentioned IOs shoot themselves in the foot no matter how you look at it. Whether it be cultural contestation with the UN or organizational insulation at the World Bank, a bureaucratic organization seems to always have it faults.

The biggest reason that international development hasn’t been a more successful venture up until this point has a lot to do with the fact that everyone is out for themselves at the end of the day, trying to make it seem like developing the entire world up to the same living standards, but in reality just mining resources from the many in order to sustain an unsustainable life for the few. A true global government wouldn’t be able to stand for that inequality. A true global government doesn’t exist because it isn’t in the best interests of the global elite for the playing field to be leveled. So, in terms of global government and development, the elite wield that power, they just don’t use it for the benefit of the whole world.

In Cullather’s article “The Foreign Policy of the Calorie”, they teach us that the State was able to utilize the measuring ability of the calorie to understand the habits of its population. It allowed the State to supervise and regulate the general welfare of its inhabitants. To the State, the calorie was “a technology for classifying food within the inventory of resources [at their disposal]”. A nation was able to see the progress of their development in “numerical terms”. The United States “constructed the calorie by giving it practical value, standardizing it and embedding it in systems of distribution and administration. It was in the United States that the calorie left its most visible imprint on foreign policy. It popularized and factualized a set of assumptions that allowed Americans to see food as an instrument of power, and to envisage a ‘world food problem’ amenable to political and scienti?c intervention.” This led to a global alliance of actors that were able to work together in the efforts against famine epidemics around the world.

The United States first used the measuring ability of the calorie as a “gauge of social and industrial ef?ciency.” The U.S. military implemented the use of counting calories for rationing by implementing the process of having engineers organizing limited supplies during the First World War and then distributing those supplies to troubled areas in Europe. This led to “the current world pattern of humanitarianism, exchange, and subsidized dumping . . . after the Anglo-American allies recaptured the calorie among the spoils of World War II.”

Even in present day, the global hunger dilemma is “characterized by a style of calculability that assigns reciprocal routines and obligations to national governments and the international community.” The United Nations has a commitment to cut the amount of starving people on the planet in half. They mark progress on their “website with an ‘interactive hunger map’ on which the outlines of the caloric de?cit align with national frontiers; hungry nations are marked in bright red, while cooler shades of blue and green indicate progressive degrees of satiety. The image sharpens the juxtaposition of surplus and dearth, visually conveying a reproof familiar to youngsters of a certain generation: ‘Clean your plate; there are starving children in China.’ This understanding of the reciprocity of abundance and shortage rests on a claim that ‘food’ has a uniform meaning in green nations and red nations and a standard value that can be tabulated as easily as currency or petroleum. The calorie represents the sum of these assumptions.”

The globally accepted way of governing food rations is by measuring with the calorie. “Combined with censuses, caloric tables could be used to estimate rations for cities, armies, or even nations. Military rather than hygienic necessity made the calorie an international standard measure of food.” Food was able to be globally governed, rationed, measured, and distributed, all because of the calorie being universally accepted. The world may not have a global government looking out for everyone’s best interests, but “fragments of this vision of an orderly world, in which resources align neatly with desires and every person is entitled to a minimum daily requirement, may still be found even in ordinary places, such as on the side of a cereal box.”


The first thing I think of when it comes to managing anything is emotional intelligence. The capacity of awareness, control, and expression is oh so limited per person. Then to be able to make final decisions and handle interpersonal relationships over a large group judiciously and empathetically is quite an astonishment. Though this can contribute to just about any management position in business, I say this in regards to global governance. In global governance, all involved are positioned to manage worldwide relationships and activities at the international, transnational, and regional levels. This along with decisions that are made based on rights and rules that are enforced through economic and moral incentives. Now the part that really gains my attention is the “moral” part. To each region, state, province, village, etc., there are different aspects on corrective action, what’s right or wrong, and especially in regards to survival needs. This would mean that having a government that manages the world is conflicting as problems are not one-in-the-same i.e. unrecognized tribes in Africa demand rights while Syrians demand healthcare and security. Who manages such demands? Who ensures power in distributed “equally” among all members? Unfortunately, outcomes can be dysfunctional, “undesirable and even self-defeating” with reasons being traced back to bureaucratic culture. As Michael Barnett suggests in his document, there are two theoretical approaches: economistic and sociological. The economistic theory focuses on instrumental rationality and efficiency concerns. The sociological theory focuses on the issue of legitimacy and power. Depending on the purpose that an organization gives themselves, their impact can vary as international organizations can become autonomous sites of authority. To better describe it, in this case, global governance is the broader term, a simple description of what governments do or can do. International organizations (IO) are the ones who take action and implement decisions for all citizens of regions involved such as those in the United Nations or North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Generally, the goal is to create universal rules and categories. This is stating that the knowledge gained in one location would be applicable to others. However, there is cultural contestation, where local cultures within organizations perceive environments in different ways. Generations change as time progresses, meaning our practice of survival will change. Although we could use science and theory as an influence, it cannot be solely relied upon. Social norms change, therefore, the people must be understood. While high modernism can use science and theory to regulate the socialness of the world, I believe it can only go so far. I think we are already in a standardized society where strategies only work for so many. Otherwise, poverty may not exist if standardization did not.

I found The Foreign Policy of the Calorie to be an interesting article because the calorie is a unit of measure created to determine a “healthy” diet consumption. The calorie was used to compare national diets. It allowed for scientists and policy makers to use a standard measuring tool, to see all food as the same and reduce the variety of foodstuff. What it also did was create a social efficacy. It influenced the way people dieted, how they perceived themselves and how they defined healthiness. However, with a diet of “2,000 calories a day”, we are assuming universal body mass. We are assuming everybody has the same size clothing, that we do the same exercises, same career tasks, etc. If you have ever seen “Adam Ruins Everything”, there is an episode where the host discusses calorie intake and how “Uncle Sam” was the one to determine that 2,000 calories per day was the recommended intake, although the original measured average was over 2,300 calories. However, the calorie is flawed. If you consider people like Hollywood stars Vin Diesel, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and John Cena, each is considered obese because their body mass index falls within that range. Nevertheless, they are as healthy as someone who falls within the “healthy” range. Thus, this article entails that standard measures works for some, but not all. And the calorie is a perfect example of the ineffectiveness and faultiness of standardized policies.


Barnett, Michael N., and Martha Finnemore. “The politics, power, and pathologies of international organizations.” International organization 53.4 (1999): 699-732.

Weiss, Thomas and Rorden Wilkinson. (2014). “Rethinking Global Governance? Complexity, Authority, Power and Change.” International Studies Quarterly, 58: 207-216

Scott, J. 1988. “Authoritarian High Modernism.” In Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. Yale University Press.

Cullather, N. 2007. “The Foreign Policy of the Calorie.” American Historical Review. 112(2) .

TruTV. (2017, July 18). Adam Ruins Weight Loss. Adam Ruins Everything. Torrance, California.

Downey, A. (2018, June 11). Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is technically obese and Vin Diesel is ‘overweight’ – why BMI doesn’t always work. Retrieved January 26, 2020, from…

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