“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more ‘successful’ people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form.
It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.” — David Orr
Educating Tomorrow's Citizens: Making Meaning in an Information Society
Suzanna E. Henshon, Ph.D.
How do educators teach to an uncertain future? Given the fact that knowledge is constantly changing, can we guide our students to be critical thinkers and to navigate their way through complex information within a classroom setting? As educators, we have the responsibility of teaching our students how to be critical consumers of knowledge, and to learn meaningful information in an increasingly fragmented and confusing age. In this presentation, I will discuss how educators can guide their students toward an elusive "truth" in an age filled with easy information, biased reporting, and multiple websites.
As the population of Planet Earth reaches 7 billion, the issue of sustainability is becoming one of a number of hot button issues encompassing every field of human endeavor, from the humanities to the pure sciences. It is clear that our current use of the Earth’s energy and resources cannot continue indefinitely on the current trajectory. As the growing populations of developing countries begin to emulate our Western life style, it is obvious that the kind of economic activity required to support this growth is not only incompatible with a stable environment, but also with the resource base of the planet.
If a global tragedy is to be avoided, a new paradigm based on a sustainable model for the use of energy and resources is needed; currently, there is little support for the implementation of such a model in the US and many developing economies as well. One of the principle reasons for the lack of support for change is the failure of the educational sector to develop an awareness of the seriousness and scale of the problem among the general population.
Gaining the support for a new paradigm will require a major change in the way we teach not only science, but other disciplines including history, political science, and philosophy. In order to appreciate how sustainability reaches beyond the realms of science and science education, panelists will present some thoughts on the relevance of sustainability within their field of expertise. Following these presentations, a discussion involving the audience will aim to (a) outline an educational model that incorporates sustainability at its core, and (b) propose feasible ways to implement the model both in K-12 and in higher education.
Historical Lessons for the Twenty-First Century
Brian D. Page, Ph.D. and Charles McKinney. Ph.D.
More than simply learning from past mistakes, history provides a guide to understanding how individuals refused to have their lives dictated by the course of past events. Relying on personal accounts from individuals who lived through crucial moments in American history, Professors Brian D. Page and Charles McKinney will explore how these testimonials can help us find direction in an increasing socially and economically dislocated global environment. As more individuals face economic challenges and insurmountable odds to achieve the successes of previous generations, there are important lessons to be learned from the seemingly powerless and, at first glance, inconspicuous individuals of Americas past. These stories of resiliency and fortitude provide insight into how individuals not only overcame social and political barriers, but refused to let the weight of history control their future. As a result, history remains central to educating the next generation of Americans as they come of age in the twenty-first century.
Engaging Culture: Crossing the Boundaries of Perception in the Humanities
Myriam Mompoint, Ph.D.
Students often come into a Humanities course with preconceived ideas about content. Some have a vague notion that it has something to do with art (the most common answer I get when I ask students about their expectations); others say they have no idea what the course entails. It is clear that the perception many students have of the Humanities is rather fuzzy. Perception (both as cultural construct and sensory phenomenon) is, however, a key element in how course content can make the leap from the textbook/classroom tradition to a more personal and worldly experience of the Humanities for learners. In this paper I examine how knowledge about the output of human artistic and intellectual production (the core of Humanities course content), can be enhanced by incorporating the latest research on sensory perception, a useful tool that promotes student understanding about the way the brain responds to certain types of stimuli. Pairing a lesson on Beethoven’s relationship to his music with the work of Evelyn Glennie, percussionist extraordinaire who feels her way through music she is unable to hear can make the appreciation and understanding of musical sound and creativity even more thought provoking and intriguing. In an era of constant sensory stimulation, multiple outlets and unprecedented access, getting students thinking about how brain processes as well as cultural orientation help determine our responses to artistic output is of value. In the age of spectacle, digital distraction and New Media, a Humanities course should address the rapid evolution of how we understand and respond to the Arts.