So how’s your course at Yale going?

Really well, thanks. It’s just my kind of course: no papers to write, no homework, no exams. The only downside was downloading 1.6 gig of video lectures. Yes, I ended up downloading the lot, and that takes patience on Unwired where download speeds vary from 14k to 110k a second. Initially I had downloaded just one lecture because I thought it would help – as it will – in one aspect of the HSC Extension English course. Then I was hooked.

Point is I like learning this way, better than reading sometimes, especially when the teachers are as good as the ones at Yale – not to mention the guests, Tony Blair being one. You see, I have been struggling with what to make of Robert Shapiro’s Futurecast: How Superpowers, Populations and Globalization Will Change the Way You Live and Work (2008) and this course fills in the background beautifully, as well as tying in with my religious and ethical interests.

The course is very well designed, and its components woven together and signposted with great pedagogical skill. It is Yale, after all, so one might hope for something a bit above average. (Better yet, it’s free!)

In the second lecture “Prof. Douglas Rae, Richard S. Ely Professor of Management and Professor of Political Science introduces students in the Yale University Faith and Globalization seminar to historical forces influencing globalization and major world religions.” He is tentative about the second part, being, as he said, a secular humanist himself.

He admires the young Marx, who “got it right” – until the theory and determinism took over later. I’d agree with that. There is a brilliant animated presentation in the lecture of global economic developments from the early 19th century to the present showing in just twelve seconds the fortunes of the major world states. (China takes a short dive under Mao but has been on the rise since the early 20th century.)

The course is woven together with keynote lectures by theologian Miroslav Volf, a great teacher and a good mind. There are contributions too from Ian Shapiro, Sterling Professor of Political Science and Henry R. Luce Director of the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University whose many books include The Flight from Reality in the Human Sciences and, with Michael J. Graetz, Death by a Thousand Cuts: The Fight over Taxing Inherited Wealth (both Princeton) and José Casanova, professor of sociology at Georgetown University.

As if that were not enough we also have:

  • James Alexander, former CFO of Spinnaker Exploration, speaks about his experiences in consulting with Enron and Spinnaker Exploration and his "uneconomic attachment to quality".
  • Ambassador Tony Hall, formerly of the U.S. House of Representatives, discusses the impact of his faith perspective on his social and political engagement toward addressing poverty.
  • Muna Abu Sulayman of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Kingdom Foundation presents a faith-based perspective on gender in the context of globalization, and specifically the head scarf debate.

And Tony Blair.

One thing has already taken root with me: to think in terms of globalisation processes rather than thinking if it as an “it”.

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2 thoughts on “So how’s your course at Yale going?

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