Scott L. Montgomery



Fall 2013

English as a Global Language:  Impacts and Issues

Over the past 30 years, a quiet transformation has occurred in human communication.  For the first time in history, the world has a true global language—a fact with many implications not only for diplomacy, commerce, and the sharing of knowledge, but also for national identity, security, and international relations.  Today, as a core fact of the contemporary world, English has become the language of the new “global citizen.”

This class will address a number of questions about this phenomenon, including:  how has one language gained such power?  What advantages and burdens does it bring?  How does it impact other cultures and economic development?  What is the status of EFL (English as a Foreign Language) instruction worldwide?  What lessons can we learn from major lingua franca of the past, like Latin, Arabic, and Chinese?  How has the rise of English impacted endangered languages around the world?  Syllabus

Spring 2013

Geopolitics of Oil

Civilization as we know it would be impossible without oil, as it fuels every modern mode of transport, civilian and military.  Over 130 nations now import their oil, a vast web of vulnerability. Moreover, oil’s bounty completely inverts the modern order of nations, giving former colonies resource dominance over former colonizers. Advanced nations, meanwhile, have built societies of unprecedented wealth and freedom on the back of a commodity that now comes from often troubled, repressive regimes—regimes who view their oil not merely as an origin of wealth, but a foundation of their very sovereignty.   This course will take up:

--the nature of petroleum, basic geologic factors, and the definition and distribution of reserves

--the global oil industry, its history, development, and economics

--centers of global demand and supply; -the idea of peak oil and reality of shale oil

--the role of technology (including fracking)

--patterns of conflict and cooperation in oil geopolitics; resource nationalism and the "oil curse"

--case studies:  East Asia and the Persian Gulf; U.S. and Saudi Arabia; China, Europe and Central Asia

--petroleum and climate change

--alternatives to oil:  their status and outlook


Winter 2013

Task Force:  A New Great Game?  U.S. Interests in Central Asia

Due to geography, resources, and long-term borderland status, Central Asia has been a nexus of great power rivalry since the 19th century. Today, as a result of the war in Afghanistan and recent discoveries of large oil/gas reserves, conflict and competition have several dimensions and directly involve Europe, Russia, China, and the U.S.  One dimension is the huge volume of recoverable oil and gas to which Europe and China desperately want access, but which Russia wishes to control as part of its “near abroad.” As the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan over the next year, concerns over regional stability will take precedence. This Task Force will: 1) analyze current political, economic, and social conditions in the three mentioned countries; 2) evaluate specific U.S. interests and policies in light of the mentioned analyses; 3) answer the question: how important are these countries to U.S. foreign policy and how important should they be; and 4) suggest improvements to these policies, which might involve amending, deleting, or replacing those presently in action.  Final Class Report

Energy and Sustainability in East Asia

In 2008, East Asia became the largest energy consuming region on Earth, as well as the largest producer of greenhouse gases.  In 2010, China surpassed the U.S. in total energy use, and by 2015 it will likely become the largest importer of oil as well.  These realities mark a profound shift in the nature of the modern world. After 200 years, rich, western nations are no longer at the center of the global energy system. Led by China, with its overwhelming dependence on coal and oil, E. Asia presents the major challenge as to whether humanity can frame a more sustainable future and avoid the worst effects of climate change. At the same time, the region remains home to many conflicts dating from WWII—between China and Japan, between Russia and China, and between North Korea and the rest of the region. These conflicts are all re-written in the complex energy relations that typify this region. This class will examine and discuss these critical realities related to energy and the issues they raise not only for East Asia, but the world and its challenge to forge a more sustainable future.  Syllabus

Previous Courses at the University of Washington

Energy in East Asia:  2005-Present

Readings in the History of Democracy

Conceiving the Future:  Readings in a Post-Western World

U.S. Energy Policy

Science and Art:  Visualizing the Natural World (Honors course)

Big Business and the American Public:  A History of Attitudes (Honors course)

English as the Global Language of Science (Honors course)

Distant Lands and Foreign Eyes:  Classics of Travel Literature

Task Force - Past Subjects

      World Energy Resources (2004)

      Geopolitics of Global Energy (2005)

      Climate Change:  Scientific and Policy Perspectives (2006)

      Climate Change:  Realities and Issues for U.S. Policy (2007)

      Climate Change and U.S. Policy:  The Changing Context (2008)

      The Nuclear Option:  Carbon Mitigation in East Asia (2011)

      Treasures of the Caspian:  The Coming Struggle for Energy East and West (2012)

      A New Great Game?  U.S. Interests in Central Asia--Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan (2013)


Fall 2012

Geopolitics of Language

In this class, we will address issues related to the influences between language, politics, and history. This will include examining the role of English as a global language, and also other world languages such as Spanish, French, Russian, and Chinese. We will study the phenomenon of language policy, its relation to ideas of nationalism, ethnicity, and culture, as well as its development in selected nations and organizations, such as the EU, the UN, ASEAN, the countries of eastern Europe, the Baltic region, and Central Asia after the fall of Soviet Communism, and more. Time will be spent on the major linguistic trends in the world today, including increasing multilingualism, language change, links between such change and economic development, and the tragic phenomenon of endangered languages and efforts to protect them.

Energy, Technology, and Sustainability

Two week section of a team-taught course in Sustainability.  This section includes lectures on trends in global energy and technology, the meaning of "sustainability" in the energy realm,  fossil fuel resources, the present and future status of non-carbon energy sources, and future scenarios for both sustainable and non-sustainable development.