One of the key aspects of The Global Conversation course is the online Learning Circles, which brings together a small number of students studying in various parts of the world working on a common problem by assessing both its local and global impacts. The Learning Circles work toward the completion of collective project that looks at how specific environmental problems might be addressed, given their political, economic and social impacts.
A Sampling of Online Student Discussions ...
ON THE JAPAN DISASTER
Kelsey Myers– PA, USA “A power source is of course needed to generate (and secure!) nuclear power. But in light of the recent loss of primary power and backup diesel generator malfunction in Japan, we can see the irony in all this. We are trapped in a never-ending, cyclical search for power (fueled by just that, power). For as many times as I've typed "power" in the last two minutes, it is still not nearly enough to show the irony and magnitude in this all. We need power to survive, and how do we generate that power? With more power. Now for how we generate that power...and so on. The earth can power itself without batting an eye at us, but we need to realize (as this course teaches) that we rely on an umbilical cord back to earth for EVERYTHING we do to survive. If we cut it (which we've already begun to do), what then? On the other hand, we also need to realize how we impact the earth's ability to power itself. Ultimately, what goes around comes around. The backbone lesson of this course is to wake up to the global connections all around us, and what has just happened in Japan should certainly be steering all of us in that direction.”
ON THE CRISIS IN NORTH AFRICA
Jillian Casey– Elizabethtown, USA “I think the crisis in North Africa shows that although different people may argue over the "correct" form of government, the main issue is that people's rights are protected by the government. When people's rights are respected, then we can begin to discuss sustainable peace. I believe that sustainable peace can only begin when each nation begins to respect it's citizens and then we begin to see others not as outsiders, but as humans. I think it would be difficult to grasp this concept of interconnectedness if people within one nation can not grasp the concept of interconnectedness among themselves. How can we begin to establish sustainable peace if we are discriminating against "our own people"? I think this crisis can be the catalyst toward respect, which could lead to sustainable peace.”
ON GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE
Emma Sawyer– Ballyvaughan, Ireland “Seriously considering climate change puts you in the seat of consciousness and therefore responsibility! It's a lot easier to live the ignorant easy lifestyle than to sit down and really think about what your daily actions mean. It's easier to go with scientists who say there isn't any climate change because if you believe that you can go merrily on your way to whichever fast food chain you desire and you won't think twice about it! People love hot showers and steaks and they aren't going to give that up and place the future of society in their hands if they can help it, let someone else fix the problem!”