Saturday, May 5, 2007

Choosing a Topic

In many ways the key to running a successful Global Module is choosing a great topic. You want a topic that is meaningful and that addresses issues that are important to the course - and also to students and their lives. A good topic will inspire debate and will lead to an examination of bigger issues. It should force students to question some of their cultural or regional stereotypes - it should "tweak" them a little. At the same time, it should avoid a contentious argument because that would prove counterproductive. Topics like globalization or the environment or women's rights or terrorism have proven to work very well.

To facilitate the discussion we usually have the students read and discuss a common short text. This introduces the topic and gives the students a common experience and vocabulary. The text should be short - preferably a journal article, a chapter from a book, newspaper articles - and it helps if it is online so that it is easily accessible for our international partners. For the Global Module on Woman as "the Other" we had the students read the introduction to Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex. For a Global Module on inequality we had the students read an article on the Grameen Bank. A chapter from the book Freakonomics inspired a conversation about the implications of naming. That said, the common text doesn't have to be a text at all. When we discussed ecological impacts we had the students go to a website that calculated how big a person's ecological footprint was. A short film or piece of art would also work.

I'd like to use this blog as an area for exchanging ideas. Are there any suggestions for other possible Global Module topics? Please feel free to post suggestions using the comment feature.



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