Human Crossroads: Confronting Global Issues through Identity, Time and Place

Course Description:

Human Crossroads draws from the fields of geography, history, anthropology and sociology to address some of the world’s greatest challenges. The course title, “Human Crossroads”, refers to an intersection of sorts- a place where numerous forces/issues/ideas come together and and place to make choices that impact the future.  Students will learn to make connections between the material, themselves and current events while analyzing these intersections to make informed arguments for choices going forward.  Course material includes current events, academic texts, online resources and data visualizations.  Each unit starts by asking, "what is where, why there, why care?" using maps.   Students will learn to read actively, analyze maps, interpret data, write thesis-driven essays, synthesize information, present in front of their peers, work in groups and connect with their local and global community.  Students will pursue and interpret the latest news and scholarship and global challenges to make decisions for a just, sustainable and peaceful future.  This class is not only intended to develop academic skills, but to foster curiosity, self-reflection, global citizenship and a renewed commitment to the pursuit of truth, love and justice in the world.

Units of Study: 

1. Place: To what extent does place matter?  What does one's zipcode decide?

2. Demographics: How does the world achieve sustainable population growth?  Is sustainable population growth possible for Nigeria considering it's economic circumstances, gender dynamics, and population structure?

3. Economics: How are prices determined in a market economy?  What are solutions to rising inequality in America? Is inequality inevitable in a capitalist system?

4. Race: How has race been socially constructed throughout history?  What does systemic racism look like in Portland? How do institutions and systems reinforce racial inequalities? In which institutions do we see these racial inequalities emerge? How might we work to address systemic racism?

5. World Religions: What are the origins and beliefs of the world’s major religions?  Do, "all rivers flow into the same ocean?" Compare and contrast the major religions.