Promise & Peril in the 21st Century

Thinking Critically About Global Challenges

Course Description

The study of global issues is more critical than ever now that we have truly become a “global village.” The decisions that we make in the next few years will determine the collective future of that village. Together we are confronted with many pressing and often competing global challenges that demand thoughtful responses and solutions. For example, population is growing at an alarming rate in some regions; environmental concerns are everywhere; global resources appear to be dwindling; national security eludes many countries; and human rights are violated in a variety of ways. These crises certainly represent problems facing our world today; on the other hand, they also provide opportunities for us to bring about changes that will significantly increase the ongoing quality of life around the world.

In this course, students will encounter topics from a variety of disciplines and perspectives. The organizing framework of this course is seven global challenges:

  • Population – Growth, aging, migration, urbanization
  • Resources – Food, water, energy, climate
  • Technology – Computation, biotechnology, nanotechnology, transhumanism
  • Information – Data growth, access, social networking, information integrity, knowledge
  • Economies – Interconnections, emerging players, debt, poverty
  • Conflict – Causes of conflict, nature of conflict, conflict resolution
  • Governance – State actors, international organizations, multinational corporations, non-governmental organizations

Throughout the course, as students engage with each of these challenges, they will be charged with developing a greater sense of global citizenship. The course is designed to provide students with knowledge, skills and attitudes to be engaged, responsible and effective members of a globally interdependent society.

Key Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Identify issues and impacts for key global challenges, drawing from various disciplines;
  • Analyze political, economic, social, and/or environmental impacts of key global challenges;
  • Employ information literacy in learning about key global challenges;
  • Develop a sense of global empathy; and
  • Evaluate various approaches and/or solutions to key global challenges.
Activity 1
Report on Global Challenges Faced by People around the World
Report on Global Challenges Faced by People around the World
In this activity, students are challenged to take on the role of a front-line reporter, covering the impact and consequences of global challenges around the world. Students will examine these massive macro trends through the eyes of the people in the country they are covering, and will contribute to a publishable Global Challenges Magazine.