Environmental, Economic, and Geopolitical Challenges
The global challenges that face us now are many and multifarious. This unit tackles them by putting them into the broad categories of issues of the global economy, particularly problems of poverty, global health, human rights, climate change, and geopolitical conflict. According to The Economist, “The most important change in the world over the past 30 years has been the rise of China. The increase in its average annual GDP per head from around $300 to $6,750 over the period has not just brought previously unimagined prosperity to hundreds of millions of people, but has also remade the world economy and geopolitics” (“India’s . . .”). India, given the overthrow of the Congress party hold on power, may be poised for similar economic development. But global poverty, however, remains a formidable challenge, and the gap between those who have and those who don’t is growing ever wider. A 2014 Oxfam report quoted in The Guardian stated that the “richest 85 people across the globe share a combined wealth of £1tn [one trillion GBP], as much as the poorest 3.5 billion of the world’s population” (Wearden). Problems of poverty are complex and connect with problems of health and climate change. The persistent problems of human rights abuses as nations address issues of resource scarcity and resurgent nationalism threaten regional stability, especially in Africa. Addressing this wide range of issues facing the global community may require reform of existing institutions of global and regional governance.
After a three week introduction to the variety of global challenges that face us, the rest of the unit will be devoted to student research on a particular area of interest. Through a four week Research Paper Workshop, students will research and write a traditional college-style research paper. The expertise gained through this research and writing will then be reshaped into a TED Talk in which students will share their expertise in a ten minute version of the model TED Talks they will have seen throughout the unit and the course.
Additionally, students will experience first hand the possibilities that exist for everyone to make a contribution to making our world a better place. Using funds gained through grants and donations, students will research KIVA loan applications. They will advocate for different investments and decide collectively how many projects to fund with the money we have collected.