Course Overview

The study of global issues is more critical than ever now that we have truly become a “global village,” and the decisions that we make in the next few years, whether those decisions are made in Beijing, Brussels, Brazil or Buffalo, will determine the collective future of this village. Together we are confronted with many pressing and often competing global challenges that demand thoughtful responses and solutions.

Population is growing at an alarming rate in some regions; environmental concerns are everywhere; global resources appear to be dwindling; national security eludes many countries, especially as terrorism has become an international phenomenon; and human rights are violated in a variety of ways.  These crises certainly represent significant problems facing our world today; on the other hand they provide opportunities for us to bring about changes that will significantly increase the ongoing quality of life around the world.

The purpose of this course is to educate and encourage the development of globally competent citizens and leaders.  The course is designed to provide students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to be engaged, responsible and effective members of a globally interdependent society.  Most importantly, students will be asked to think deeply about their world (including its future, current issues, its impact on their local area, and their personal responsibility as global citizens).

The Global Challenges shaping our world in the foreseeable future are:

  1. Population
  2. Resources
  3. Technology
  4. Information
  5. Economies
  6. Conflict
  7. Governance

Because of the diverse nature of these seven global challenges, students will be exposed to multiple academic fields of study in this course. The objective of this interdisciplinary course is that students will develop both a comprehensive understanding of some of the major global issues, as well as a heightened appreciation for how diverse topics are interrelated.

B. Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes

I. Pathway to Citizenship: This course may be one of many you have already taken along your path to becoming an engaged global citizen, or it may be your first introduction to the path. The journey is long. One course over a series of several weeks cannot possibly provide you with the knowledge base, skill set, and attitudes that you need to be a global citizen, but it is an important component. At the conclusion of the course, you will be farther along the pathway to global citizenship.

II. A globally competent citizen: The general goal for this course is for students to become more knowledgeable about global issues and to move toward being a globally competent citizen. Students will achieve key learning objectives related to knowledge, skills, and attitudes associated with becoming a globally competent citizen.

III. Knowledge and Skills. Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify issues and impacts for key global challenges, drawing from various disciplines
  2. Explain the relationships between and among global challenges
  3. Employ credible resources in learning about key global challenges (information literacy)
  4. Analyze political, economic, social, and/or environmental impacts of key global challenges
  5. Evaluate various approaches and/or solutions to key global challenges
  6. Create a solution towards a more preferable future for issues related to one or more key global challenges

IV. Attitudes. Upon completion of the course, students will have:

  1. Developed a sense of global empathy (i.e. how these trends are affecting and being affected by different groups of people)
  2. Recognized the importance of key global challenges
  3. Acquired an intellectual curiosity about key global challenges
  4. Developed an interest in taking action and being engaged locally or globally

In attempting to accomplish these objectives, we will incorporate a variety of learning activities, all of which will be organized online. The Internet provides a valuable source of information regarding global issues, and you will be provided a rich repository of Web-based resources and guidance in searching for additional resources. These resources will be organized within your learning management system.  Students are encouraged to participate in additional outside learning activities, such as attending campus presentations and using interactive technologies to understand global issues.

C. Structure and Sequence of Class Activities

Attendance/Discussion 30%

  1. Lectures
  2. Discussions
  3. Today’s Topic

Global Village Blog 30%

Research Paper 40%

Lectures: will be based on, but not limited to, the readings in the textbook. The topic of each class is set out on the last page of this syllabus. Students are expected to read the relevant chapters of the textbook in advance and to come to class prepared to discuss the material.

Class Discussions/Group Discussions: Students are required to participate actively in this class. If you have ideas on how a certain topic might be presented and applied, please express them; if you are aware of learning resources that are not being used, please suggest them. If we work together, this can be a very interesting and rewarding class for all of us.

Today’s Topic: For each class, students are expected to bring an article or essay from a newspaper, magazine or the internet that is topical with the context of global challenges. The subject matter and country is purely at the discretion of the student. At the beginning of each class I will ask several students to report briefly on their article. No specific analysis is required, but your opinion on the article is necessary. There is no written paper required in connection with this assignment, but individual participation in this activity will count toward the attendance component of your grade.

Global Village Blog: Students are required to write a blog after every section on the topic/issue you just learned. At least two paragraphs are required for each blog. Listen carefully the instruction provided as this consists 30% of the entire course grading. Please download and review the rubric for the Global Village blog activity on the Blackboard.

In addition to the sources presented in this lesson and your own internet search, review and rely on the following sources:

Students are to present their blogs in each class to let them understand the situation in other counties, and learn the similarities and differences compared with their own country’s situation.

Research Paper: Students are required to write a research paper of not less than 10 pages in length (12pt font; double-spaced; standard margins). This paper can be on any issue of your choice within the framework of “International Relations”. The following aspects must be included:

  • A statement of the issue;
  • An explanation as to why it is an issue and the significance thereof; and
  • Historical background, possible solutions, and the desirable outcome or outcomes.

The due of the submission will be two weeks after all lectures are completed. The details of the research paper format and the date of the submission due will be announced at the end of the semester.

D. Course Policies

Papers turned in on or before the day they are due will receive credit. No late submission will be accepted.

Attendance: From past experience I have found a direct correlation between class attendance and test performance. 30% of your grade is based on attendance, meaning that attendance is a meaningful part of the course. I will consider absences carefully when assigning your grade.

Academic Dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, cheating on exams, etc) is a serious offense and may result in a failing grade or more severe punishment. If I suspect plagiarism is occurring, I will insist all papers are submitted through Turnitin.

There is no extra credit in this class. If you seek a certain grade in this course (e.g., to get into law school or graduate school), then please make sure that you put in extra effort and complete all the readings and attend all class lectures. Please do not ask me to give you special consideration beyond that received by the rest of the class.

E. Class Schedule

This schedule is a little flexible as I will try to invite guest speakers. The submission dues of the blogs will be instructed at each class. The blog assignment will start from Feb. 13, one blog per week assignment.

  • Week 1 Introduction / Orientation, Overview of this course
  • Week 2, 3 Our World
  • Week 4 Nature of Global Community
  • Week 5 State Actors (1) International Organizations
  • Week 6 Global Trade
  • Week 7 Inequality
  • Week 8 Population Growth, Population Aging
  • Week 9 Climate Change
  • Week 10 Migration
  • Week 11, 12 Conflict
  • Week 13 Energy, Water, Food

F. How to Connect

To connect to the course, please download the latest version of Java ( on your computer.
Then click on the link below

To join as a Participant, use the link below and type in your name on the sign in page: 

Type your name in the box and click on LOG IN
Wait for a while and you will see RUN
Click on RUN and wait for a while
You will see a question about the speed of your internet then click on OK
That will take you to the classroom where you will see all the participants and the professeur.

Please get a small headset and a mic so that you can ask question. To ask question, click on TALK and speak, when you are done, please click on TALK to close your mic. If you do not have a headset, just type your questions in the CHAT box.