Historically, the textile and garment industries are known as those that revolutionized the industrial age and, as pointed out by Edward Baptist in The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, virtually created American capitalism and its status as a “wealthy nation with global influence.” Those same industries, however, are also major contributors to environmental degradation, labor exploitation, and the persistence of economic inequality and poverty, especially in Third World countries.

In this seventh module of the course we will:

examine the actors and systems behind the clothing we wear by tracing the life-cycle of a T-shirt

learn about a specific garment industry sectoral intervention strategy (Garment Industry Development Council, NYC, 1990s)

work in pairs to find out, to the best of our abilities, what we can about the supply chain behind an article of clothing (our own)

Assignments & Deadlines

NEW! The True Cost a documentary about the unsustainable world of global fast fashion.

Planet Money’s T-Shirt Project

Planet Money Makes a T-Shirt  [click to enter web story]


How Technology And Hefty Subsidies Make U.S. Cotton King, December 2, 2013. [8:57]

Planet Money Spins a Yarn and Makes a “Perfect” T-Shirt [6:34]

Two Sisters, A Small Room, and the World Behind a T-Shirt [12:59]

Next Stop Bangladesh as We Follow Planet Money’s T-Shirt [7:49]

“Our Industry Follows Poverty”: Success Threatens a T-Shirt Business [12:58]

Nixon and Kimchi: How the Garment Industry Came to Bangladesh [7:46]

Meet the Humble Container that Moves the Global Economy [8:02]

The Giant Book that Creates and Destroys Entire Industries [5:19]

The Afterlife of American Clothes [8:16]

SIMPLE SUPPLY CHAIN ANALYSIS: With your assigned partner [Mary-Gopal; Chris-Caroline] pick an article of clothing, check the label, and using any relevant methods from Action Research on Garment Industry Supply Chains: Some Guidelines for Activists, find out as much as you can about the supply chain that produced your garment. Write up your findings and email them to Gilda by 5 pm, Sunday, August 2.  Then be prepared to present your findings during our Week 15 Adobe Connect session on Tuesday, August 4, at 7 pm.

Week 15  Adobe Connect Discussion Session: Tuesday, August 4, 7 pm

This discussion will consist of:

supply chain presentations by two student teams

check-ins and mutual support re: sustainable urban economies project topics/progress

Adobe Connect instructions:

Please link to the Adobe Connect session 5 minutes before start time. Quick access to the Adobe Connect online classroom is always available by clicking on ADOBE CONNECT on the top menu of the Course Website. 

Please note that the url for all Adobe Connect sessions for this class is always:


log in as a guest and simply enter your name in the space provided

Conference line:

Phone number: 866-453-5550
Code: 8050439#