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How to change the world

I have stated a new course with the Wesleyan University. The lecturer is Professor Roth who did the course on Modern and Post Modern that I documented last year.

The format is very different from the other courses that I have taken as there are a lot of discussion and videos and external information. I am trying to work out the best way to document the course so that those of you who follow in another language can still take advantage of my notes. If you have any ideas then please let me know.

To give you some idea of the topics and the breadth of the information we are looking at here is the syllabus copied from the Coursera website and including all the links.

About the Course

How to Change the World has its origins in Mashable’s “Social Good Summit” held at the 92nd Street Y. The summit brought together some of the world’s most creative entrepreneurs, writers, academics and political leaders to discuss ways innovative thinking and technology can address pressing global challenges. Beginning from talks, panels and conversations from the summit, we will add lectures, on-line discussion groups, hangouts and readings to explore the issues in politics, technology and the environment in broader academic and historical contexts. We will then discover together what actions we can take to make a difference.

How to Change the World examines how we can develop “social goods” and use them to create networks of progressive change. Classes will explore the meaning of “social goods” and then address the following topics: Poverty and Philanthropy; Climate Change and Sustainability; Women, Education and Social Change; Social Networks, Education and Activism. Each week will be structured along the following questions: 1. What do we know? 2. Why should we care? 3. What can we do?

Learning Goals

At the end of the class students should have a clearer understanding of these global issues, and they should develop strategies for working with others to begin to address them. Our aim is simple and bold: to put together the facts, the energy and the actions to make a real difference in addressing some of the major problems confronting the world today.

Suggested Readings

There will be weekly readings provided as PDFs or as links. Readings will range over a wide variety of fields.


Week 1: What are Social Goods? What is the Commons?

Assignment: available 1/20 5 AM PST, due 1/27 5 AM PST, peer evaluations due 1/30 5 AM PST

Garrett Hardin, “Tragedy of the Commons,” http://www.sciencemag.org/content/162/3859/1243.full

Lewis Hyde, “ Interview on the Commons” http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/23204 You may also want to consult Hyde’s Common as Air

Yochai Benkler, The Penguin and the Leviathan: How Cooperation Triumphs over Self-Interest (Crown Press, 2011), chapters 1 and 10

Tania Singer, “Beyond Homo Economicus http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/a-new-model-of-human-behavior-by-tania-singer

Week 2: Poverty and Development

Assignment: available 1/27 5 AM PST, due 2/3 8 AM PST, peer evaluations due 2/6 8 AM PST

Jeffrey Sachs, Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet (Penguin 2008), Part Four (chapters 9-11)

J. Cohen and W. Easterly, eds. “Introduction to What Works in Development? Thinking Big and Thinking Small. Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2009

Pranab Bardhan, “Little, Big: Two Ideas About Fighting Global Poverty”

Sudeep Jain, http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2013/01/22/how-to-find-the-poor/  “A well-timed nudge” Promoting fertilizer use with a nudge to savings http://www.povertyactionlab.org/publication/well-timed-nudge

Isabel Coleman and Terra Lawson-Remer, “A User’s Guide to Democratic Transitions”, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/06/18/a_users_guide_to_democratic_transitions

Angilee Shah, http://www.theworld.org/2013/09/what-to-consider-when-you-are-considering-donating/

Esther Duflo, Sebastian Galiani, Mushfiq Mobarak, “Improving Access to Urban Services for the Poor,” http://www.povertyactionlab.org/publication/improving-access-urban-services-poor

Jeffrey Sachs, http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/ensuring-the-success-of-the-un-s-sustainable-development-goals-by-jeffrey-d–sachs

Week 3: Climate Change and Sustainability

Assignment: available 2/3 5 AM PST, due 2/10 8 AM PST, peer evaluations due 2/13 8 AM PST

Elizabeth Kolbert, “In the Galapagos”http://e360.yale.edu/feature/in_galapagos_an_insidious_threat_to_darwins_finches/2694/

Elizabeth Kolbert, “A Reporter’s Field Notes on Coverage of Climate     Change” http://e360.yale.edu/feature/a_reporters_field_notes_on_the_coverage_of_climate_change/2130/

Elizabeth Kolbert, “U.N. Chief: Talks Are Making Slow, Steady   Progress” http://e360.yale.edu/feature/un_climate_chief_christiana_figueres_talks_making_progress_on_eve_of_do…

Elizabeth Kolbert,”At the Edge of Peruvian Andes, Tracking Impacts of     Warming” http://e360.yale.edu/feature/at_edge_of_peruvian_andes_tracking_impacts_of_warming/2570/

“Climate Stabilization Targets, Report in Brief” http://nas-sites.org/americasclimatechoices/other-reports-on-climate-change/2011-2/climate-stabilization-targets/

“Limiting the magnitude of Future Climate Change,” National Academy of Sciences,” PDF

“Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change” National Academy of Sciences,”PDF

“Advancing the Science of Climate Change,” National Academy of Sciences,” PDF

Interview with Dan Kahan on why you believe the climate story that keeps you in your group: http://e360.yale.edu/feature/dan_kahan_interview_better_message_risks_climate_change/2690/

Global Warming Public Engagement Campaigns: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0017571 Great resource: http://e360.yale.edu/

Week 4: Disease and Global Health Care

Assignment: available 2/10 5 AM PST, due 2/17 8 AM PST, peer evaluations due 2/20 8 AM PST

James W. McGuire, Wealth, Health, and Democracy in East Asia and Latin America (Cambridge University Press, 2010), Chs. 1 & 11. PDF

Paul Farmer on Rishi Manchanda and the roots of the health care crisis: http://blog.ted.com/2013/06/05/investigating-the-root-causes-of-the-global-health-crisis-paul-farmer-on-the-upstream-doctors/

Paul Farmer, “Rich World Poor World: Medical Ethics and Global Inequality” (2006) http://download.thelancet.com/flatcontentassets/pdfs/2006-Rich-World-Poor-World.pdf

Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger. New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2009, Ch. 6.  If you can’t access this online, please consult:http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/06/opinion/wilkinson-inequality-harm/

And you may want to consult the World Health Organization’s website:
Global Health Atlas:  http://apps.who.int/globalatlas
Global Health Infobase: https://apps.who.int/infobase
World Conference on the Social Determinants of Health: http://www.who.int/sdhconference/en/

Week 5: Women, Education and Social Change

Assignment: available 2/17 5 AM PST, due 2/24 8 AM PST, peer evaluations due 2/27 8 AM PST





http://www.povertyactionlab.org/publication/empowering-young-women-what-do-we-know (especially though page 20, and 53-55)

Martha Nussbaum on the capabilities approach, http://www.thenation.com/article/159928/what-makes-life-good#
Or, Nussbaum in more detail: http://philosophy.uchicago.edu/faculty/files/nussbaum/Women%27s%20Capabilities%20and%20Social%20Justice.pdf

Amartya Sen, “India’s Women: The Mixed Truth” New York Review of Books (October 10, 2013). http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/oct/10/indias-women-mixed-truth/?page=1

Week 6: Looking Back, Looking Forward

If you enjoy reading my notes consider making a small donation to one of these charities. No donation is too small, you could change a life.

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