How to Create the Last Humans Curricular Concentration
Trent Batson, Ph.D., Director, The Last Humans Project https:www.thelasthumans.org
Once an institution, a university, or any other institution of higher learning in the world, adopts the new climate mission, as an additional mission, a curricular “path” can be created as explained below. I am reluctant to use the word “path” because a real-world learning experience is really more about “bushwacking,” that is, more about discovering a path toward a destination. But, let’s use “path” advisedly in this discussion.
The Institutional Mission:
Lead the world in preserving human society during the current mass extinction caused by climate change. Offer a program that enrollees can choose that will engage them immediately upon matriculation in real-world projects aimed at preparing human society for extinction events such as floods, fires, rising seas, droughts, heat waves, famine, climate refugees, and other similar climate change effects that are bringing about the 6th mass extinction on earth that includes a threat of human extinction.
Let’s do this step by step.
1. Are there courses now being offered, or in the works, that are about climate change? These could be courses in any field of scholarship from sciences to philosophy to anthropology or sociology, linguistics, and so on.
2. These existing, or soon to be existing, or archived courses can be part of the interdisciplinary course of study under the rubric of “extinction rebellion.” (Each institution can of course invent its own rubric).
3. Some courses can be required and some can be optional.
4. All courses related to the climate concentration (“extinction rebellion”) should be problem-based or project-based courses working on current real word climate-related issues.
5. If there are, say, 10 to 15 courses included in this “major” or “concentration” or “course of study,” by whatever name is appropriate, one should serve as an introduction/orientation course structured according to the institutional climate mission. This course could serve as a requirement for majors and a recommended course for those students majoring in other courses of study.
6. And, another of the 10 to 15 courses should serve as a capstone course limited to just those students who are majoring in the climate concentration.
7. One or two requirements within this “major” (let’s use this U. S. term) will be an internship, or study abroad, or working to learn, or service learning, by whatever term, so that undergraduates can get engaged in the global effort to both reverse climate-change effects or help society adapt to inevitable disruptions because of climate change.
8. Each student must choose climate courses in at least three different fields of study, such as biology, political science, literature, anthropology, history, and so on. One of those courses must be about human evolution from any disciplinary perspective.
9. All faculty members/professional staff who offer courses in the climate major will have what is, in effect, a dual appointment with their “home” discipline and with the climate major.
10. All students must be able to demonstrate an actual change they have helped bring about through their direct participation – that is, they completed their own individual deliverable for the project that brought about the change. This is a graduation requirement.
11. All climate courses must connect with a governmental organization, or a non-profit/NGO, or with a company, that is able to bring about significant change locally, regionally, nationally or globally to improve the chances for long-term human survival and reversal of climate change effects.
12. Every course that is included in the climate major must have a communication element that is not just an add on, but that is central to all work – project groups cooperating through email and text, for example, creating websites with a forum, posting reports online, submitting collaborative project updates, and so on. All graduates of the climate major must be excellent writers and conversationalists. Some might be persuasive speakers, others might be persuasive writers – but all must be able to use language, the greatest human strength, by the time they graduate.
13. Learning Outcomes: all graduates from the climate major must be able to immediately start or continue working on a climate change project with a non-profit, a governmental agency, a Non-Governmental Organization, or a company. Each must be assessed as capable of making a difference in the world. Each must have shown the ability to synthesize disparate ideas, results, problems, or data to find a common thread that can advance work around that problem or issue. Each must therefore be creative.
This major is obviously challenging, but also offers the best learning experience possible in higher education today. And, it offers a lifeline and potential renaissance for global higher education itself.
· It provides a vital mission to each institution that will energize all constituents in that institution.
· This major also engages students in a “relevant” problem that is recognized by students around the world.
· Each institution can promote itself as current, aware, engaging, and assuring life success from this new major.
· Global higher education can, once this global mission is active, again claim its proper place in civil society. It can move away from a sole focus on vocation/jobs and put itself back at the center of society.
· And, most importantly, it is best suited to be the global leader for the survival of human society. This role can provide a renaissance for higher education.
How Universities and Colleges Can Adopt The Last Humans Program
In this blog, above, we have posted the actual mission statement – however revised or re-written at various institutions – and we have also posted a description of the actual courses that should be included and the learning design that is most appropriate to the Last Humans Course of Study.
In this section, we describe potential models for how institutions can adopt this course of study (curriculum, major, concentration, etc.).
First, the concept is to create a degree program from mostly existing course, that is, an interdisciplinary course of study. It is similar to “general education” programs in the U. S. (https://www.aacu.org/resources/general-education). Some say that gen ed is like a cafeteria, where students pick the courses but that the courses are not explicitly related to each other thematically. The Last Humans course of study, however, does have a strong theme: mitigating climate change effects locally, regionally, nationally and globally (LRNG – “learning”).
We use that cute acronym – LRNG – for a purpose: the goal is to “save humanity” but it is also a rich and productive learning experience, appropriate for jobs and career other than climate action.
Second, on many campuses someone or some office dedicated to sustainability or resilience or climate action may already exist. That office or person or committee, etc., could well see The Last Humans as an additional campus catalyst for their work. It is one thing to focus on sustainability of the campus itself, but a much more encompassing initiative if it includes civil society outside the campus.
Third, a primary goal of The Last Humans Project is to create a global influence network (GIF). (“influence network” is a commonly used term and also a social network theory). The purpose of the network would be to move all institutions in the world toward adoption of the Last Humans mission statement and curriculum. As each campus activates the Last Humans curriculum or course of study, the network will grow in influence.
Fourth, professional associations, accrediting agencies (U. S.) or The International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education and other similar broad-based organizations, can adopt The Last Humans program as a guideline or recommendation. Our Project will be communicating with all such organizations in the coming months.