Nancy started this…
Essentially, it was her idea to get David and Allen together to work on a project that used and focused on interdisciplinary thought – connections between the sciences and the humanities, directed specifically towards the undergraduate community. Fortunately, and over coffee, David and Allen hit it off pretty quick and started to think a little (and then a lot) about such a grand educational initiative.
The first thing they realized, of course, was that neither was at all comfortable talking about the sciences and the humanities. Allen, after all, specializes in international security, and David dabbles in molecular genetics, worthy disciplines on their own, but obviously nowhere near representative of the enormous breath behind the two largest faculties on campus. What to do? What to do?
What they did, was write a grant. And this grant essentially said something like the following:
We would like to offer a “Global Citizenship Seminar Series” as a joint initiative of the University of British Columbia’s Faculties of Arts and Science (as well as many others including those from groups as diverse as UBC Student Development and UBC Community Affairs). Its primary mission is to educate members of the UBC community (notably undergraduate students) on the pressing global issues of our time. This will encompass a website, design of a future interdisciplinary course addressing global issues, and delivery of the aforementioned speaker’s series showcasing high profile (and engaging) academics, cognoscenti, and proactive members of our global community. By creating a synergistic forum that addresses topics such as climate change, sustainability, GMOs and AIDS, we hope to stress the importance of multi-disciplinary learning, thus inspiring students to actively pursue university educations that will assist them in developing and promoting just, civil, and sustainable societies throughout the world.
Nice, right? Without the more eloquent grant speak, it simply queried: “We’ve got this great idea for an interdiciplinary course, but need to do some homework first ,before we’re comfortable delivering it. To focus a bit, let’s concentrate on pressing global issues, maybe start a website to collect information, and bring out great people who we can learn from – get pumped up, you know. Grant reviewer people, can you help us?”
Happily, they did, and this website is one small but important part of that ideal. This website aims to act as a voice, a textbook of sorts, and a place to present information, opinions, creations, reviews and really anything that tackles some aspect of the many topics and subjects that fall under the global issues of concern.
Of course, there is always the fear that a project of such considerable intent will crash and burn. But we hope to be resilient, and are optimistic that there are many like us who want to help make it work. Funny, but in some respects, these are attributes not unlike the needs and hopes of our own troubled planet.
Alright. Game on.
(also read our Seminar FAQ, and see next semester’s roster of speakers)