Sunday, October 30, 2011

7 Revolutions Conference

Three other Metro professors joined me in Fresno, CA for a 7 Revolutions Institute.  The goal of the 7 Revolutions is to educate globally competent citizens.  The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has put together course materials that can be used in parts or as a standing course.  They suggested using it as a course to inspire freshman college students to think globally.  This would fit really nicely under Metro's new general studies requirements, that include a global diversity course, which my new Global Climate Change course will fulfill for students coming in on the 2012 catalog.

The course is written as a blended course, meaning that the students meet regularly for class, but when they go home, they have this lovely place where they can go online to see class notes, assignments, free articles from the New York Times on related topics, and a forum for communicating with other class members.  Instead of Blackboard, they use Epsilen, which seems to have some of the nice perks of social media built in to a more traditional online course hosting site.  The idea is that college students might not be spending enough time out of class on their coursework.  I was always told that for a 3-credit course, I should be spending 6 hours at home on studying, reading, and doing homework for that class.  Therefore, students taking 15 credits should be spending ~15 hours in class and 30 hours outside of class on their coursework.  One way to force that out of class time is the blended learning model, where students can spend an hour a day, every day, visiting the website, and doing the required readings, assignments, and discussions.

Here's a list of the seven revolutions and subtopics for each.  "This framework encompasses most of the key global issues facing our contemporary and future world."
1.  Population-- growth, aging, migration, urbanization
2.  Resource management-- food, water, energy, climate
3.  Technology-- computation, robotics, biotechnology, nanotechnology
4.  Information-- data growth, access/privacy, knowledge
5.  Economics-- the future of the interconnected economy, new players, debt, extreme poverty
6.  Security-- new security dynamics, terrorism and traditional weapons, cybersecurity, infectious disease/Health
7.  Governance-- difficulty in organizing groups, corporations, NGOs, diaspora/individual

Some professors worry that they don't know enough about these topics to teach all of them, but the course materials can get you started. Having taught classes in the past that I was not comfortable teaching, it can be a fun experience to learn as you teach and have your students contribute where they can.

After taking the course, some students feel a sense of helplessness rather than inspiration, so some professors choose to include some service learning in the course to show the students how to get involved and make a difference.