Great Problems, Great Minds Seminar Series: World Geography, World Orders, and World Development—Societal and Civilizational Models



Join the Social Sciences Colloquium at the Department of Social Sciences for this Great Problems, Great Minds seminar series event featuring guest speaker Michael Dunford, an emeritus professor in the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex, who will give a presentation on “World Geography, World Orders, and World Development: Societal and Civilizational Models.” This seminar will take place on Wednesday, March 6, from 5–6:15 p.m. over Zoom.


Geographers have paid too little attention to the evolution of the global system. At this point when the world is undergoing a profound transformation. On the verge of a new industrial revolution and confronts major challenges that will require transitions to civilizations that are ecological and spiritual. After the North Atlantic financial crisis and the growing weight of the Global South and Global East, the geography of global development is undergoing radical change. In the transition from the initial primitive communal stage of socio-economic development, there were significant differences in the paths of Western and other civilizations. The rise of the West from relative backwardness in the sixteenth century derived from the diffusion of innovations from China, and the decisions of European powers to use these innovations to put guns on ships and colonize much of the world. The path of Asian civilization was profoundly different. In today’s world, the difficulties of the collective West may signify the coming to the end of an era lasting more than 500 years in which Western nations have dominated world affairs and the emergence of a new multipolar world.


Michael Dunford is an emeritus professor in the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex, a visiting professor in the Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and a managing editor of the journal Area Development and Policy. He was elected to the Academy of Learned Societies for the Social Sciences in 2000. In 2003 he was awarded the Royal Geographical Society’s Edward Heath Award for geographical research in Europe and is a fellow of the Regional Studies Association. His interests are in global development at multiple geographical scales and with special reference at different times to Europe and the Western world, China, Eurasia, and the wider world system, drawing on materialist conceptions of history and geography and theories of uneven and combined development, regulation, and geopolitical economy. His most recent publications deal with the Chinese social model, Chinese poverty alleviation, common prosperity, Chinese economic development since 1949, the Belt and Road Initiative, and China’s international engagement. He has also written on the Ukraine crisis, global economic evolutions, and the emergence of a new multipolar world order. His research has been published in top journals such as Political Geography, Eurasian Geography and Economics, and Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy, and Society. His research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of the United Kingdom Research and Innovation of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship.

“World Geography, World Orders, and World Development: Societal and Civilizational Models” event is part of the Social Sciences Colloquium of the Great Problems, Great Minds seminar series which explores the major problems facing humanity as we move into the heart of the twenty-first century. To see the full schedule and videos from previous events, visit the seminar series page. For more information, contact Associate Professor of Social Sciences Hao Huang at

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