Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Changing global contexts – some considerations of the bigger picture and the changing world

Welcome back – as before, I am happy at the opportunity to put some thoughts down regarding our current discussion on changing global contexts.

Last time we introduced the first in six critical tasks, which were formulated in the work of Sunny Hansen. To get this current series of discussions underway, we looked at the external context, within which career planning and development takes place. The idea of acting as change agents was introduced, and the posting was concluded with the introduction of a list of 15 global challenges for humanity.

To extend our understanding of the global arena – also referred to as the external context – we need to take a brief look at how the world population is constituted. In an original work by Donella Meadows, published in 1990, she was asking what the so-called global village would look like as a community of 1000 people. To keep up with changes in world demographics, some authors have adapted the picture to represent the world of today; I have put together a table where some of the more salient pointers of the global village from the nineties is compared to the global village of today*:






· 584 Asians

· 123 Africans

· 95 Europeans

· 84 from Latin America

· 52 from North America

· 61 from Asia

· 12 from Africa

· 12 from Europe

· 9 from Latin America

· 5 from North America


· 165 speak Mandarin

· 86 speak English

· 83 speak Hindu / Urdu

· 64 Spanish

· 58 Russian

· 37 Arabic

The above only accounts for half the village population; the other half of the population speak the following languages (descending order):

· Bengali

· Portuguese

· Indonesian

· Japanese

· German

· French

· 200 other languages

· 17 speak Chinese

· 8 speak Hindu

· 7 speak Spanish

· 4 speak Arabic

· 4 speak Russian

· 3 speak Bengali

· 2 speak Malay-Indonesian

· 2 speak French

· 45 speak other languages


· 300 Christians

· 175 Muslims

· 128 Hindus

· 55 Buddhists

· 47 Animists

· 210 other religions

· 31 Christians

· 21 Muslims

· 14 Hindus

· 6 Buddhists

· 12 other religions

· 16 would not be religious or identify with a specific religion


· 1/3 would be children

· 60 would be above age 65

· 28 babies born per year

· 10 people would die per year

· 20 would be between 0 – 14

· 66 would be between 15 and 64

· 14 would be older than 65


· 200 people would receive 75% of the income

· 200 would only receive 2%


· 53 would live on less than 2 USD per day

· 50 would live in poverty

New technology

· No data available

· 34 would be cell phone users

· 17 would actively use the internet

· 1% would own a personal computer

*Current authors have decided to reduce the size of the current village to 100

This is a really thought-provoking picture; I think as agents of change, we are all required to take due note of the changing demographic of the world. At first, we may think that the pictures are quite similar; the challenge would, however, be to start realising that even the so-called smaller shifts that are taking place on a global scale, are impacting on the rest of the picture.

If we consider the current picture from the perspective of career planning and management, and remind ourselves that the process of career planning simply has to take full cognisance of the big picture, the magnitude of the task is quite apparent! In building on our understanding of this critical task of Integrative Life Planning – finding work that needs doing in changing global contexts – we soon start realising that there is no option but to accept that whatever plans are made, need to demonstrate our understanding of the ever-changing picture. No longer is it okay to think we rule the roost, to think we can plan without due consideration of the bigger picture, and to disregard the interconnectedness of humanity.

In parting I want to pose a question: is the changing global picture duly considered in terms of you career and life planning? Are you simply thinking that as an individual I will not be impacting the world with my choices and decisions? The time has come to change your approach and realise that we are all making a contribution to the changing picture.

Next time we will spend some more time talking about Critical task 1 of the Integrative Life Planning model. According to Hansen’s conceptualisation of the ILP model, it is imperative to look at a couple of macro issues and needs, which are of specific relevance to how we approach career planning and human development.

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