The nations of the world are defined by borders, but the sense of international community is expanding.
Globalization has led to global governance, which includes structures and processes in place to coordinate nations' needs without the presence of a single world government.
The "Great Decisions" series, presented by North Georgia College & State University, wrapped up Tuesday night with the eighth lecture, "Global Governance."
A crowd of about 40 engaged in the discussion at the Sharon Forks Library.
From formal international government talks and organizations to social movements happening online, the global world is changing, said Cristian Harris, associate professor of political science at NGCSU.
"Global governance reflects a new reality," Harris said. "It is a situation in which we are trying to develop a system based on rules and trying to move away from power."
International groups, such as the United Nations and World Trade Organization, have set up certain guidelines for cooperation in the world.
The U.S. was once the sole rulemaker, Harris said, but several powerful countries have since become involved.
Harris explored the global powers governing the economy, environment and security.
Multi-national corporations and world trade contribute to globalization economically.
Prior to 1971, Harris said, nations were more limited in their economic interaction, and the U.S. called the shots.
In the last 40 years, though, the economy has grown more global.
Capital controls were removed and the WTO was born, creating an independent body that can investigate fair trading practices.
Most recently, the International Monetary Fund has grown, Harris said.
"It happened in front of your eyes and you guys didn't notice," he said. "The IMF doubled the amount of how much it can lend."
Harris also noted that China has become the third largest member of the organization.
In terms of global environmental policy, Harris said living on the same planet gives all nations a common interest.
The current principle is to do no harm, which Harris said can also prevent nations from taking action, since "the alternative could be worse."
In some cases, private demand for environmental products and practices have changed the way businesses operate, without governmental regulation, he said.
World security issues have grown from traditional military matters to include disease, cyber crime and drug trafficking, among others.
Human rights have also stirred international involvement, which Harris said has led to a shift in the system.
"You have witnessed a tremendous change in the way the system operates," he said. "Up until two weeks ago, we would say that sovereignty was absolute, that what happens transpires inside the borders of a country. Our affairs don't affect that country and it stops there."
The recent military involvement of the U.S. and other nations in Libya could lead to discussion about who should step in, when and to what extent in future situations.
Harris also reviewed the options of the U.S. in the global order to best serve its own interests, from isolationism to a world government and everywhere in between.
Following the talk, Gerri Gaccione said the lecture "gave us a bigger perspective of what's going on."
Her husband, George, added that younger generations will witness a much different world situation.
Vernon Kuehn, who attended all the lectures, said he enjoyed the thought-provoking topics.
"Besides what you learn, for those of us who are move-ins, it's a great way to get a feel of who lives in Forsyth County," Kuehn said.
He said the crowd in Forsyth has been "dynamite" in asking great questions and having civil and interesting discussions.
Kuehn, who also caught all of last year's lectures, plans to return for the third year.
Andy Leavitt, the college's vice president for institutional advancement, said the Sharon Forks library will be considered for a host site again next year.