This is my first semester “back to school” in quite some time. I’m finishing up my undergrad, and have a good bit of “core” classes to finish as well as a sprinkle of classes related to my major, Interdisciplinary Studies / Organizational Administration.
So, to help reengage the brain, I decided to start off with classes “Developing a Civil Society” and “Globalization and Diversity”, in addition to a couple others to complete a full-time status. I chose these two classes specifically because of how they tie into the world today. During this political climate, I wanted a civil way to discuss some of the concerns I have with the direction government and politics are heading. The divide seems to be between so many Americans, including members of my own family. I have to say; these classes have not disappointed me.
In “Developing a Civil Society” we are discussing things like solitary confinement and incarceration. While watching a PBS Frontline episode, “Solitary Nation“, I was horrified to see the effects of leaving people in solitary confinement for times exceeding 10 years! The impact of punishment on people exceeds cruel and unusual; and the ability to acclimate people back into society or general prison population has a lasting impact. My eyes were widely opened diving further into prison problems reading an article in the New Yorker, “The Caging of America” and watching videos like “Incarceration Nation”.
We have a true prison population problem. The number of juveniles, minorities, and re-entries into prison shows a system that is not working well. We have the highest prison population of any developed country. An example of questions our professor will ask to generate good conversation are, “Has the privatizing of prisons contributed to these problems?” “How has racial profiling, the war on drugs, and other political movements impacted this mass incarceration movement?” While the class did not discuss solutions, just becoming further aware of these problems encourages me to support a different way of thinking and really question the current process, along with the impact and the cost to society.
The other class, “Globalization and Diversity” has really brought my attention to the relevant issues of trade with the European Union. But the more shocking and troubling awareness came when I did a recent paper on one of the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945
in countries such as Yemen, South Sudan, and Nigeria. The food insecurities, starvation and cholera outbreak is leaving over 20 million people to die. The all too common conflicts of the world leave food and access for assistance unobtainable.
While these are difficult conversations to have around your dining room table, I’ve really enjoyed the classroom environment to discuss real world problems of today. I’m truly enjoying my pursuit of my undergrad, and being “back to school”. I’m looking forward to the Spring semester, when my class load may be more focused on my major. But in the interim, taking these two classes was a great way to get reengaged and truly got me thinking again.