Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Three days in

Linear's now met twice, and HON 479, my honors section of the university's capstone course Cultivating Global Citizenship, once. This is my first time teaching that course (though in Fall 2012 I "interned" with the instructor for the course all of last year), and my first time teaching a course that's so heavily discussion-based. My relative unfamiliarity with facilitating discussion is going to make this course a challenge, but of the first day of class is any indication, the students' outgoing nature is going to mitigate that challenge.

Students like Arturo and Nona, whom I've long known (from previous interactions with them) to be extroverts played that role perfectly, showing no hesitation in opening up about both simple subjects like academic major as well as a few of the fairly touchy topics (race and religion) with which this course will later deal. Other students, some of whom I've met in my dealings as director for the past year, some of whom I really met just yesterday, stepped up too. I'm planning on plying various discussion-driving strategies to help these folks out, but I'm not too worried.

We'll have a lot to talk about. Our first order of business is to pick apart Kwame Anthony Appiah's Cosmopolitanism, a text that gets right to one of the central topics of our course, namely the question "how, in a world full of difference and diversity of every imaginable sort, do we manage to get along with one another?" As the aim of the class is to help students develop the skills they need to become informed and engaged citizens in an increasingly interconnected world, answering this question is of paramount importance.

After that we'll move on to readings by Jonathon Kozol, Gloria Ladson-Billings, bell hooks, and others. Cornel West is coming to campus in a couple of months, and we'll ready ourselves for his visit by reading excerpts from his Democracy matters. It's all good.

Meanwhile, I'm getting the Honors Program back up to speed for the academic year. We've got a welcome reception for the first-year Honors students on deck for next Thursday, and we're readying a few of last year's first-year students to help out as a resource for this year's first-years. Tomorrow I'll start reaching out to my colleagues across the campus to try to recruit faculty to teach in the program next term.

Never a dull moment. Avanti!

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