All students at CHC must take the Global Studies course as part of their general education requirement. Section topics include global warming, economic inequality, terrorism and other compelling issues that impact the world’s population at large.
Jacqueline Reich, Ph.D., associate professor of political science and coordinator of political science and global affairs, organizes a trip every semester for Global Studies students that incorporates various aspects of the topics under discussion through a visit to the United Nations, where the students engage with U.N. experts in these fields.
“We live in a globalizing world,” says Reich. “And we want students to have a sense that the world they’re graduating into is a globalizing one and there are certain common themes.”
In past years, the entire group would travel on one day, posing logistical challenges at the United Nations, where students had too much down time between their tour and their presentations and interaction with the experts. The great opportunity for these students wasn’t being met as well as Reich and the other instructors would have liked.
During the winter break, the professors met and decided to take two separate trips of 40 or 50 students each. The smaller groups allowed students to receive a more personalized experience at the U.N.
The agenda also was flipped, so that, rather than having the experts lecturing to the students, the students would be given time to prepare on two different topics and then they would present to the experts, who would then comment on their presentations.
One topic was about the Ebola crisis and the second was about global warming, migration and human rights. For the second, students were asked to make a presentation based on this scenario: Sea levels are rising due to global warming, impacting two South Pacific island nations, Tuvalu and Kiribati, which would be submerged by rising ocean tides. Both island nations are, on average, less than two meters above sea level and the inhabitants would have to relocate, which would be a migration topic. And what happens to these people then? Do they move en masse and form a new society? Do they become automatic citizens if they move to other countries?
“Students were assigned to present on a different facet of this problem. Other students were in the audience and could ask questions, joined by the U.N. experts,” explains Reich. “The students were engaged; the U.N. experts had a framework to put in their two cents in a way the students could understand; and this change in planning created a truly wonderful experience.”
After visiting the U.N., the students walked to the 9-11 Memorial and toured that site. On the bus ride into New York City, Reich had read everyone a timeline of that day’s events so that they all had a common understanding of the tragedy, just prior to experiencing the memorial.
Student feedback was all positive; except they all wanted to spend more time at the memorial.
Planning is underway to create two new topics for the fall trips, which will take place in late October or early November.