Friday, August 3, 2012

Last Session of Summer Course

I finished up an eight-session summer course last night.  I still have some grading to do and the students have until Sunday to post their comments regarding this week’s reading on an online discussion forum.  It was a delightful experience.  The class was small, the students motivated.  I had the opportunity to design a course that would give undergrads a global perspective and expose them to history as a discipline.  In addition to various online primary and secondary sources, I had them read three books on the Arab uprisings, genocide in Rwanda, and prison camps in North Korea respectively.  Given my interest in the dark side, I naturally chose to focus on conflicts and violence throughout the world.  I entitled the course “Historical Underpinnings of Trouble Spots in Today’s World.”

For the final hour of the last session, I divided the class into the State Department and the Defense Department.  Their assignment was to brief me, the president, on regions of the world that are an area of concern and offer ideas for resolving them.  I explained that the State and Defense Departments would be approaching the issues from different angles, asking different questions.  I gave them about twenty minutes to collect their thoughts, not demanding rigorous research but that they simply reflect on the topics we had explored as a class for the previous four weeks.  We resumed for the briefing on the mezzanine floor of a hotel with coffee products in hand.  It was fun and hopefully educational.