Globalization in the Classroom
Today I embarked on something I've thought for a long time that campus ministers should do – take classes at their university. Michael Wesch is an anthropology professor here who has started to gain significant recognition for his work and teaching methods – even a feature in Wired magazine. Dr. Wesch is actually only five years older than me so he has a strong pulse on Generation Y culture. He does a lot of work in digital ethnography, a field he is a pioneer in. (Digital ethnography is the study of digital media on culture – social networking, internet, connectivity technologies, media sharing, etc.)
So, in our class of 200 in the lecture hall today, Dr. Wesch (or Mike, as he prefers), did a survey of backgrounds and global experience among the students. As is usual, about half the students are from urban or suburban backgrounds and the other half are rural. A massive portion of the class, which consists of a broad range of undergraduates, have traveled internationally. This was more than he had ever seen before, and I was definitely surprised. Even as recently as my undergraduate days there would not been nearly this amount of experience – and this is K-State, an Ag college! And these students have been everywhere: Africa, China, Indonesia, Eastern Europe, you name it. Global culture is not happening just because the world's information is coming to us – we are apparently going to it en force.
Wesch is also a proponent of the need for entirely new approaches to learning. His body of work and the way he approaches his career make it very obvious that he is not a fan of the long-standing educational system. One of his questions to the students is "How many of you do not like school?" At this the expected number of hands go up all around the classroom. He then asks "How many of you do not like learning?" No one. "But school is supposedly all about learning. Something is wrong here." Some articles of his that I have read recently have put forth the concept of "anti-teaching," which I fully expect to play out in this class and I'm sure I'll talk more about it as we go along. One thing I'm really looking forward to is the massive "Global Simulation Project" which will be the climax of the class and will have all 200 students acting as an entire world's worth of nations and cultures interacting with each other over a period of several thousand years. It's big and takes up the whole Ballroom in the Union.
But, alas, it is not just about the class. I often hear the question put forth by other campus ministers: "How do you meet students outside of your ministry?" I think this is one of the best and most apparent ways to do so. So, to all campus ministers, look up your university's audit policies, then pull up the course schedule and get to it!