"it's 3:23 in the morning
and I'm awake
because my great great grandchildren
won't let me sleep
my great great grandchildren
ask me in dreams
What did you do while the planet was plundered?
What did you do when the earth was unraveling?"
-Drew Dellinger (poet/activist and former Woolman Semester Commencement Speaker)
At it's core, Global Issues is a class inspired by what many activists, academics, scientists, spiritual leaders, and environmentalists are calling, "The Great Turning". The Great Turning is an idea and a social movement that collectively recognizes that we are at a time of unprecedented despair regarding the future of our planet. There is no denying that nearly all of our major life sustaining systems are in decline and the effects are becoming more tangible by the day. Consequentially, we are also at a time when caring about the world can be heartbreaking and learning about the environmental and social crises is overwhelming to the point that many people feel completely disempowered to affect change.
In this class, we are not going to shirk away from examining those hard realities. Clearly, it is essential to see what patterns, structures, and worldviews got us here, but at the same time we are going to recognize that another world is possible. We are going to study alternative systems, creative solutions, hardworking organizations, and simple ordinary people who are leading the way towards creating the world that we want. On top of that, we are going to explore a variety of tools that are being used to tackle both the symptoms and the roots of the problems that we are facing.
"We are here to hospice the old, resistant, dying structures, while catalyzing and midwifing the new, Earth-honoring systems, structures, ways of seeing and ways of being." -Joanna Macy
The class puts a heavy emphasis on the notion that a healthy democracy necessitates more than voting every four years. In order for us to create the world that we want to live in, we need to step up and get involved. That doesn’t mean that you have to be Martin Luther King Jr. or Gandhi and dedicate every waking moment to a cause. What it does mean is that everyone of us has unique talents that can be used towards creating joyful, hilarious, creative, and effective change.
CHECK OUT FALL 2012'S FLASH MOB AGAINST THE OVERUSE OF STANDARDIZED TESTING CREATED IN GLOBAL ISSUES
Global Issues will be activity-based with the use of role plays, simulations, and small to large group discussions. Guest speakers and opportunities to attend related lectures and workshops will be employed to give students the opportunity to interact with frontline activists-both local and global. The methods of facilitation will be consistent with the principles that it wishes to encourage: holism, dialogue, values formation, reflection, and participation.
At the start of the term, we set the stage for the class by identifying the ways in which youth are predisposed to be social and environmental justice activists. We analyze the conditions which empower or disempower us to get active and speak openly about our experiences. We also use the concept of Global Citizenship to explore our connections and responsibilities to others, possibly on the other side of the world, whose lives are tied with ours, whether or not we see or know them.
The following unit is a profound look at the health and well-being of humans and the environment at this unique time in history. We spend several weeks analyzing the systems that are propelling us deeper and deeper into environmental and social crisis---with a heavy critical analysis of the top down institutions of economic globalization and its deeper roots of competition, greed, and disconnection.
At mid-semester, we transition into the alternatives! Amongst other exciting topics, we will learn about the idea of global citizenship, local economies, local currencies, art activism, micro-loans, gift economies, and alternative media--with a very heavy emphasis on community building and becoming activists in ways that feel joyful and natural to us!
Readings for the class will include authors such as: Howard Zinn, Naomi Klein, John Robbins, David Korten, Joanna Macy, Derrick Jensen, Michael Shuman, Vandana Shiva, Margaret Wheatley, Donella Meadows, The Sustainable World Coalition, and more!