Human Crossroads

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Full year

 

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

Human Crossroads asks students to respond to some of the world's greatest challenges using an interdisciplinary approach that draws from the intersection of geography, history, anthropology and sociology.  The curriculum is comprised of units dedicated to central thematic questions ranging from the meaning of human identity to the value of borders, the possibility of religious pluralism and vexing problems of global inequities.  Each unit starts by asking, "what is where, why there, why care?" using maps.  Course material and projects include current events, academic texts, online resources and data visualizations.  Students learn to read actively, analyze maps, interpret data, write thesis-driven essays and synthesize information, with according skill-based assessments.  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

Unit Essential Questions Content Skills and Processes Assessment Resources
Unit 1: Thinking Spatially
  • Compare and contrast environmental determinism and possibilism as means of explaining success or failure in the world today.
  • What does place decide? 

 

 

  • The goals of a liberal arts education
  • Objective versus subjective evidence analysis
  • Perspective as an analytical lens
  • The significance of place in the modern world
  • Google Mapping
  • Environmental determinist and possibilist interpretations of international development 

 

  •  Active reading strategies
  • Spatial analysis
  • Thesis development
  • Geographic literacy – The United States
  • Data analysis
  • Technology skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Social science research skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • Global Citizenship

 

 
  • The power of place country case study and thesis exercise
  • Jared Diamond “Guns, Germs and Steel” (1997)
  • Erin Fouberg, Alexander Murphy, H.J. De Blij, “Human Geography: People, Places and Culture”  (2012)
  • Daron  Acemoglu and James Robinson, “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty” (2012)
  • De Blij, "The Power of Place" (2009)
  • William Cronin, “Only Connect”
  • Google Maps
  • CIA World Fact Book
Unit 2: Human Identity in Context
  •  What does it mean to be human?

 

  • Multiregional model
  • African Origin model
  • Assimilation Model
  • Leaky Replacement Theory
  • Bonobos/Chimpanzees
  • Homo Sapien dominance over other hominid species
  • Eusociality
  • Human intelligence and exceptionalism
  • Hybridity as part of human nature
  • Evolution
  • Group and Individual selection
  • Active reading strategies
  • Spatial analysis
  • Evidence-based writing development
  • Geographic literacy – Africa
  • Data analysis
  • Technology skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Social science research skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Global Citizenship

 

  •  "Life Report” interviews in the community and a thesis-driven essay on what it is to be human
  • David Brooks, “Social Animal” (2011)
  • E.O. Wilson “Social Conquest of the Earth” (2012)
  • National Geographic's Genographic Project
  • The Smithsonian's Human Origins Project
 
Unit 3: Human Culture
  • To what extent are you defined by social/cultural constructions of identity?
  • How do we preserve local and indigenous culture?
  • Culture
  • Cultural Diffusion
  • Cultural Hearths
  • Local versus pop culture
  • Indigenous culture
  • Assimilation
  • Language and culture
  • Lingua Franca
  • Globalization
  • Social construction of identity
  • Enlightenment systems of classification
  • gender
  • race
  • ethnicity
  • sexuality
  • Cultural universals
  • Endangered cultures
  • “Mcworld”
  • Cultural Imperialism
  • Homogenization
  •  Active reading strategies
  • Spatial analysis
  • Thesis-driven essay writing
  • Geographic literacy – The Western World
  • Data analysis
  • Technology skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Social science research skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Global Citizenship
  • Intercultural awareness and sensitivity
  •  "Travel Ethic" thesis-driven essay
  • EO Wilson “Social Conquest of the Earth”  (2012)
  • David Brooks, “Social Animal” (2011)
  • PBS “Race: The Power of an Illusion” (online)
  • The Center for Intercultural Learning (online)
Unit 4: Agriculture
  • How have the agricultural revolutions led to a global crisis simultaneously in hunger and obesity?
  •  Nomads- hunting/gathering
  • 1st agricultural revolution - domestication of plants and animals
  • 2nd agricultural revolution - industrial revolution
  • 3rd agricultural revolution - Green revolution
  • 4th agricultural revolution: Biotechnology and genetically modified organisms
  • Nutrition Transition Model
  • Thrifty gene hypothesis
  • Thomas Malthus
  • Columbian Exchange
  • Stories of corn, rice, potato, sugar, bananas, meat
  • agribusiness
  • food deserts
  • Organic agriculture
  • cubsistence versus commercial agriculture
  • Von Thunen Model
  • “King Corn”
  • Ethanol
  • United States Farm Bill and farm subsidies
  • Commoditization of nature
  •  Active reading strategies
  • Spatial analysis
  • Thesis-driven essay writing
  • Geographic literacy – Latin America
  • Data analysis
  • Technology skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Social science research skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Global citizenship
  • Current event connections
  • Evidence based letter to Congress on US agricultural policy
  • Nutrition Transition Program at UNC http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/nutrans/
  • Ian Morris – Why the West Rules for Now (2010)
  • Food Inc. (2008)
  • King Corn (2007)
  • Von Thunen
  • Food Environment Atlas from the US Department of Agriculture
  • Michael Pollan’s essays (NY Times and Michaelpollan.com)
  • Ellen Gustafson Ted Talk- hunger and obesity one issue
Unit 5: The Political Organization of Space - Tribes to Empires
  • Do borders matter?
  • How should the US define success in Afghanistan?
  • Tribes and tribalism
  • Civilization
  • State versus nation-state distinction
  • Empires and Imperialism
  • Multinational states
  • Stateless nations and organizations
  • supranational organization
  • rule of force, rule of law, rule of man
  • extractive versus inclusive institutions and examples 
  • first laws: Hammurabi’s code; Sparta’s laws, Draco’s Laws
  • polis-city state
  • natural rights
  • fragile states
  • puppet states
  • social compact
  • general will
  • monarchy
  • oligarchy
  • theocracy
  • democracy
  • republic
  • Athenian democracy
  • national sovereignty
  • “Graveyard of empires”
  • Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan
  • Al Qaeda
  • Osama Bin Laden
  • Drone strikes
  • NATO
  • Northern Alliance
  • Karzai
  • Pashtuns, Tajiks, Kurds
  • Taliban
  • Mujahadeen

  • Active reading strategies
  • Spatial analysis
  • Thesis-driven essay writing
  • Geographic literacy – The Middle East
  • Data analysis
  • Technology skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Social science research skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Global citizenship
  • Current event connections
  • Intercultural awareness and sensitivity

 

  •  Afghanistan policy roundtable discussion and thesis driven essay
  • Perry-Castaneda Library Map collection
  • EO Wilson’s “Social Conquest of Earth” (2012)
  • De Blij's "Power of Place" (2009)
  • Foreign Policy Magazine (Failed States Index)
  • Foreign Affairs (The Council for Foreign Relations)
  • Brookings Institution
  • Heritage Foundation
  • Center for American Progress
  • American Enterprise Institute
Unit 6: Religion and Ethics
  • What are the origins of the world’s major religions?
  • Is religion a force for good in the modern world?
  • Is religious pluralism possible in the modern world?   
  • Religion
  • Dogma
  • Secularism
  • monotheistic
  • polytheistic
  • pantheistic
  • Animistic
  • Atheist
  • Agnostic
  • Fundamentalist
  • Universalizing versus ethnic religions
  • The history, significant concepts, the divine and major figures in Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and Buddhism
  • Shintoism
  • Taoism
  • Confucianism
  • Religious diffusion
  • Indigenous religions (shamanism)
  • Sacred sites/religious landscapes
  • Interfaith boundaries
  • jihad
  • Genocide
  • Ethnic cleansing
  • religious extremism
  • Religious fundamentalism
  • Religious Pluralism

 

  • Active reading strategies
  • Spatial analysis
  • Thesis-driven essay writing
  • Geographic literacy – Asia
  • Data analysis
  • Technology skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Social science research skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Global citizenship
  • Current event connections
  • Intercultural awareness and sensitivity

 

  • Islam in the media case study and religion as a force for good essay

  • Robert Wright “Evolution of God” (2009)
  • Stephen Prothero, “God is Not One” (2010)
  • Mary Pat Fisher, “Living Religions” (2002)
  • Eboo Patel “Acts of Faith” (2010)
  • EO Wilson , “Social Conquest of Earth” (2012)
  • Online Resources

 

Unit 7: Population, Migration and Urbanization
  • To what extent is the rapid urbanization of the world’s population sustainable?
  • To what extent does population equal power in the modern world?
  • Population distribution
  • Population pyramids
  • Measurements: census; population reference bureau
  • Demographic transition model
  • Doubling time
  • Total Fertility Rates (TFRs)
  • Life expectancy
  • Child mortality rate
  • Female infanticide
  • Crude birth rate/death rate
  • Population policies - expansive and restrictive
  • Dependency ratio 
  • migration - internal, international, forced, voluntary, guest workers
  • push/pull factors
  • selective immigration laws
  • Migration chains
  • Refugees/Internally displaced persons
  • Six urban hearths 1)Mesopotamia 2) Nile River Valley 3) Indus River Valley 4) Huang He and Wei Valleys 5) Mesoamerica 5) Peru
  • Central Place theory
  • Suburbanization
  • China
  • India
  • Urban Models: Sector Model; Multiple nuclei; African City, Concentric Zone
  • Redlining
  • Gentrification
  • Sprawl
  • Walkability
  • Active reading strategies
  • Spatial analysis
  • Thesis-driven essay writing
  • Geographic literacy – megacities around the world
  • Data analysis
  • Technology skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Social science research skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Global citizenship
  • Current event connections
  • Intercultural awareness and sensitivity

 

Population and power debate and essay

  • Fouberg and De Blij, "Human Geography" (2012)
  • The Population Reference Bureau (online)
  • Atlantic Cities (online)
  • Gapminder (online)
  • New Geography (online)
  • Online news sources
Unit 8: Trade and Development
  • To what extent has technology fostered human connection throughout history?
  • In what ways has globalization increased opportunities for some people while others continue to struggle?  
  • Measurements of human development - GNP; GDP; GNI/per capita GNI
  • Commoditization
  • Atlantic Slave Trade
  • Wallerstein’s world systems theory - core-periphery- semiperipery
  • Rostow’s modernization model 1) traditional 2) preconditions to takeoff 3) takeoff 4)drive to maturity 5) high mass consumption
  • Dependency Theory
  • Millennium development goals
  • World Bank/IMF
  • Free trade - WTO/NAFTA
  • NGOs
  • participatory development
  • North-South/south-south development
  • microfinance
  • conspicuous consumption
  • outsourcing
  • just in time economy
  • BRICs
  • China
  • Weber’s least cost theory
  • Active reading strategies
  • Spatial analysis
  • Thesis-driven essay writing
  • Geographic literacy – wealth and poverty around the world
  • Data analysis
  • Technology skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Social science research skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Global citizenship
  • Current event connections
  • Intercultural awareness and sensitivity

 

Gapminder project

  • Gapminder (online)
  • Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty” (2012)
  • Charles Wheelan, “Naked Economics” (2010)
  • North/Benjamin/Miller, "The Economics of Public Issues" (17th Edition) North/Benjamin/Miller
  • Worldmapper (online)
  • Ted Talk “Together alone” Sherry Turkle TED Talk
  • UNCTAD 2011 Policy Report on Global Development

 

Unit 9: Human Environment
  • What are the environmental, social, political and economic implications of continued human dependence on nonrenewable sources of energy?
  • How does a nation’s access to natural resources expand and limit development?

 

 

  • Climate Change Controversy
  • Energy
  • Weather
  • Fire
  • Ice ages
  • Oil
  • Fracking
  • Coal
  • Electricity
  • Solar Power
  • Ethanol
  • Alternative Energy
  • Glacial Melt
  • Resources: renewable and non-renewable
  • Greenhouse effect
  • Hydrologic cycle
  • Great Pacific Garbage Patch
  • Rare earth elements
  • Ozone layer
  • 1997 Kyoto Agreement
  • Desertification
  • Carbon footprint
  • “Resource curse”

 

  • Active reading strategies
  • Spatial analysis
  • Thesis-driven essay writing
  • Geographic literacy – The Geography of Oil (OPEC and beyond)
  • Data analysis
  • Technology skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Social science research skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Global citizenship
  • Current event connections
  • Intercultural awareness and sensitivity

 

  • Imagined Alternatives: mapping, writing and presenting on the energy sources of the future
  • “Eaarth” Bill McKibben (2010)
  • Center for Sustainability and the Environment at the University of Wisconsin Madison
  • Portland’s Peak Oil Task Force
  • The Institute for Energy Research (online)