December 14, 2016, BY Matthew Beltz

What class? Global Residential College Foundation Seminar: Problems Without Passports

Who teaches it? Professor David Mitchell, political science and international relations, and Professor Emek Uçarer, international relations

"We identify important topics in international news and policy and focus on specific case studies relevant to the present moment. We introduce students to specific issues and then give them conceptual tools with which to think about them. The course draws on reading and content from a variety of perspectives such as geography, political science, sociology and history, and features numerous readings from members of government, the business community, think-tank experts and public intellectuals. This allows us to explore the issues' origins and discuss how to address them. During the fall semester, we discussed issues such as the Syrian Civil War and ISIS; the role of global institutions with a focus on the European Union, Brexit and the United Nations; the global and Greek financial crises; climate change; and the migration and refugee crisis in Europe.

"These current issues present opportunities and challenges for individuals, societies and states, which we explore and discuss. For example, the changes in the global economy and conflicts occurring around the world have created flows of migrants and refugees. On one hand, these migrants can be sources of opportunity for countries, such as in the case of Japan and some European countries, where birth rates have stagnated and populations are aging, which has undermined economic growth. They can be a source for rebuilding and sustaining the workforce and subsequently, the economy. However, they also pose a challenge — tensions often emerge as local communities can see migrants as challenging the culture and economic opportunities for citizens of the receiving countries. At the same time, these migrants' native countries can benefit from alleviation of unemployment pressures, but simultaneously suffer the loss of skills that could strengthen the economy.

"Students took an overnight trip to Washington, D.C., where they attended briefings at the Delegation of the European Union to the United States and the Greek Embassy. During these visits, government officials discussed EU and Greek policies on major issues related to the refugee crisis in Europe, the Greek economy and the future of Europe, and students were able to ask questions of these experts. This provided them with the ability to obtain greater depth of understanding of the topics discussed in class as they engaged individuals participating in the policy process.

"Students should leave the course with a better appreciation that the events occurring in faraway places aren't just random occurrences disconnected from one another. They should understand that the many issues confronting the world are intertwined and that events in one part of the world have direct implications 'someplace else,' which could be where they live. In short, they will be thinking of the world as an integrated system with varying effects that are political, economic and social, and when thinking of the implications of these issues in the world, they need to understand the totality of their dimensions.

"With that ability, they can be more informed consumers of news and better able to discuss these matters at a sophisticated level. If they become passionate about these issues and want to go out and engage them through future study, activism or work, they will be far better equipped to do so. They will be able to consume a range of information, synthesize it, and critically analyze and comment on ideas. This translates into students that are stronger readers, writers and thinkers."

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