Higher Education Webinar: Introduction to World101

Thursday, October 15, 2020
Jean E. Abshire

Associate Professor, Political Science and International Studies, Indiana University Southeast

Steven Elliott-Gower

Associate Professor of Political Science, Georgia College

Charles Hopkins

Director, Teaching and Learning, Council on Foreign Relations


Vice President, National Program and Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations

Charles Hopkins, director of teaching and learning at CFR; Jean E. Abshire, associate professor of political science and international studies at Indiana University Southeast; and Steven Elliott-Gower, associate professor of political science at Georgia College, lead a presentation of World101, CFR’s multimedia library of regional and topical issues that explain the fundamental concepts of international relations and foreign policy.

FASKIANOS: Thank you so much, Erica, and good afternoon to all of you. Welcome to CFR's Higher Education Webinar. I'm Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach at CFR. Today's meeting is on the record and the video and transcript will be available on our website, CFR.org/academic, and as always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. CFR is committed to serving as a resource for educators and students of all disciplines by helping develop the skills and knowledge about the world needed to prepare for a wide range of careers and participate in an informed citizenry. Today, we're delighted to have Charlie Hopkins, Jean Abshire, and Steven Elliott-Gower, to present an overview of World101, which is CFR’s multimedia library of regional and topical issues explaining the fundamental concepts of international relations and foreign policy. Charlie Hopkins is director of teaching and learning at CFR where he works with instructors in both high school and higher education to use the Council's educational resources. He began his career teaching history and social studies both in the United States and abroad. Jean Abshire is an associate professor of political science and international studies at Indiana University Southeast, where she also coordinates the International Studies Program. Dr. Abshire teaches a range of introductory courses in these areas as well as advanced courses on European politics, Asian politics, nationalism, comparative public policy, and seminars on topics including globalization, genocide and political grassroots movements. Steven Elliott-Gower is an associate professor of political science at Georgia College. Dr. Gower teaches honor classes in international relations, international political economy and global issues utilizing high impact practices such as role-playing simulations. Thanks, all, for being with us. I'm going to first start with Charlie Hopkins to give us an overview of World101. So, Charlie, over to you.

HOPKINS: Thank you so much, Irina. I'm just going to share a couple of slides so folks can see what the site looks like. So, as Irina said, we created World101 as a way to help students and everybody understand how the world works. Because we know that understanding is so important, not only for students' studies, but also for them as citizens, and in the careers that they'll have in our rapidly changing world. As we said, it's about teaching the fundamentals of foreign policy and international relations. And we approach that by trying to find ways to tell stories about those topics that are engaging and interactive for students and for all learners. As was mentioned at the top, CFR is a nonpartisan organization; we have a nearly hundred-year history of that. Our goal with World101 is not to suggest solutions or to argue a particular position, we're looking to equip students with the knowledge they need so that they can participate in those conversations and to have informed conversations about that sort of thing. We see World101 as being useful both inside and outside of the formal classroom, as well as for everybody's life and work. One great example of that: we heard from a former editor of Newsweek recently, and an editor of Newsweek is someone you expect to have a really broad base of knowledge, but he said, even for him, sometimes he'll come across things that he feels like he needs to go back and have a quick primer on something. And he's found World101 to be really great for that, even for him in his role where he's dealing with these kinds of issues all the time. Also, with an academic audience, I always like to underline World101 is completely free, so you don't need to ask students to shell out on top of their textbook costs. And there's no account or login needed, so you don't have to coordinate with your library or pass out passwords. Students can access it no matter where how they are going online to get to it.

So World101 is organized into units. The first unit is what we call global era issues, and these are the kinds of things that are animating the headlines every day, that are faced by world leaders and policymakers, and that are shaping our lives. You can see here a list of all the modules that we've got. And these are things—climate change, migration, trade—that are in the headlines all the time. We also in the last few months have added another module for our most recent global era issue, COVID-19. And there we highlight both some of the things we've already written that have turned out to be quite relevant for COVID-19, and we've also produced some new lessons specifically about this new issue for us. Unit two, "Regions of the World," takes a look at some of the themes and challenges that different parts of the world face. We've divided the world into six regions, and for each region, we look at that region through six lenses that are listed here. It's a really great setup, because it allows students to really quickly get an overview of a lot of different kinds of issues and the themes in different areas, and it really promotes comparison. So, if you wanted to look at—what is—what are economics in East Asia like, and how are they similar or different from economics in Africa? What are the issues in that in that lens that each one, each region faces, it's a really great opportunity to introduce that. Unit three has my favorite title of all, "How the World Works and Sometimes Doesn't." We're having this webinar at a really great moment for World101, we're right in the midst of rolling out unit three. We released "Building Blocks," which is the first module, which talks about things like sovereignty and nationalism last week, and tomorrow, we'll be launching "Forms of Government," which is the second module. Over the next few weeks, we'll also be releasing modules on global governance and conflict. So, if you want to know when those come out, sign up for the World101 email newsletter, and I'll say more about that at the end. We've got three more module—pardon me—three more units coming up. Early in 2021, we will release a unit on historical context for foreign policy and international relations. And then we also have units coming up on approaches and tools of foreign policy, and one on the making of U.S. foreign policy, of how that policymaking process works here in the United States.

So that's kind of the big overview of how it's structured, but I want to go a little deeper into one module just to give you a sample of what these resources really look like. So, I want to go into "Globalization," which is one of our unit one modules. And so every module starts off with an introductory video, it's something that can stand alone, they tend to be—we try to keep them short, which makes them really flexible—three to five, sometimes six to seven minutes. So, they're not going to take over an entire class period, they're not going to make up an entire assignment between classes for students, you can add them to something you're already doing. So the video can stand alone, or it can serve as an introduction to the rest of the module. And so in that spirit, I wanted to take about three minutes to watch this video together. So, Erica, if you could do that, thank you.

HOPKINS: Every day, we knowingly or unknowingly experienced globalization, the worldwide movement of people ideas, money, goods, data, drugs, weapons, computer and biological viruses, greenhouse gases, and more. This isn't new, people and goods have always moved around the world. The Silk Road, a network of trade routes stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to East Asia, facilitated the spread of fabrics, spices, art, weapons, technology, ideas, and disease over thousands of years. What is new, however, is the scale, velocity, and range of these flows across borders. Think about the speed at which an infectious disease like Ebola or Zika can spread around the world, or the reach of a financial contagion, like the crisis of 2008. Look at your smartphone and think about the global coordination it took to produce. The interconnectedness of the modern world allows ideas, behaviors, styles, products, and news to spread more quickly and broadly, than in any other period of history. But globalization's effects are complex. What represents an upside for some people might represent a downside for others. Technology, for example, allows billions of people to contact friends and access news from around the world. International supply chains, the networks that turn raw materials into finished items, produce and distribute goods more quickly and cheaply than ever. But the pace of technological innovation has also led to the automation of manufacturing processes, which eliminates jobs. Trade is another example. Between 1970 and 2015, global exports and imports of goods each multiplied more than fifty times. More imports lead to increased consumer choices and reduced prices, and more trade can strengthen ties between trading partners and promote peace, security, and growth. But more trade opportunities and technological advances mean many corporations choose to shift their operations to countries where the labor and natural resources are cheaper, and the individuals and companies that can take advantage of international resources experienced outsized gains, which widens the growing gap between the rich and the poor. The effects of globalization, both negative and positive, are a reality. No one can opt out entirely. But governments have many options for responding. They can choose how open or closed they want to be towards trade, investment, visitors, immigrants, refugees, internet traffic, and more. Governments can also contend with globalization through collective rather than national responses. A set of international institutions and other arrangements has emerged to manage globalization. Although some countries view globalization as a threat to local identity, culture, or social and political norms, no country can be entirely self-sufficient. The challenge is for individual governments and the world collectively to promote globalization's benefits, while effectively helping the individuals and countries that globalization hurts the most. So that's the introductory video for the module. And as we say, that sort of sets the stage, but we've got some other lessons as part of the module as well. For example, we have one called, "It Takes a Village to Make Your Medicine," where we explain the global supply chain behind many, many pharmaceuticals, and talk about how that's emblematic of globalization. And it's not just text that explains that, you can see we use graphs quite frequently, and we use infographics to try to make these stories visual, as well as written. And this is a great example of one of those stories, we started working on this maybe a couple of years ago, thinking, oh, this is a fun fact, people probably don't know much about it. And since COVID-19 has come around, and we've all become experts on vaccine production, we're finding out all of this in real time about how things are researched in one country, and then you have a clinical trial in another and then manufacturing is a third country and a third place. So, it's become newly relevant as events have overtaken what we designed back then. So, it's those kinds of connections of explaining our world. So another great example, is we have this timeline on two hundred years of global communication. And so looking at the historical background of some of these—and this is a great example, we always try our best to explain why these kinds of issues really matter to folks. Sometimes, we look at this and think, oh, this is for professors and policymakers. And what does this matter to me? And so we try to take it to things that are part of our everyday lives—social media, smartphones—how might that be different from a world in which your fastest method of communication is a written letter? So that's another example of a lesson that's part of this module.  Every module also closes with a multiple-choice assessment. And these are just meant for students to check their understanding, it tells them right away if they get the question right, and if they're off base, it directs them back to the part of the module where they may have missed something. So there's a chance for students to check their own understanding. We also have a number of instructor resources, collection of essay and discussion questions for each module that are there for you to use or to adapt and use as inspiration. We also, for each World101 module, have some links to related Model Diplomacy cases. And for those who don't know, Model Diplomacy is CFR's other major educational product, which is a simulation of foreign policy decision-making through eighteen case studies now. And so if you really enjoyed the module, but want to go deeper, you want to have an active learning exercise for your students, Model Diplomacy can be a great thing to check out. And Steve will speak in a minute as an experienced Model Diplomacy user as well as a World101 user. We also put together a reading list. This is not meant to be an academic reading list, but this is still roughly at the level of World101, but for students who want to go a bit deeper. So, we're looking at articles written by journalists, we're looking at books, podcasts, documentary videos, as well as a lot of the other resources that are produced here at CFR, but that are not part of the World101 library specifically. So there's the URL for our website again, as I said before, if you go to any page on our website, at the bottom, there's the opportunity to sign up for our email newsletter, you can hear about the launch of "Forms of Government" tomorrow, and the subsequent launches of other modules as they become available. We're also active on social media, there's our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram handles. And we'd love to hear from you, as well, our email address is there, [email protected]. We always love getting feedback from instructors, from people who work in academia, because we really want this to be useful, and we want to hear questions and comments about what we're doing. So I'll stop there, and let Jean and Steve speak a little bit about their experiences, and then be back for questions and discussion.

FASKIANOS: Great. Thanks, Charlie. So now let's go to Jean and Steve, to talk about your experience of how you think about teaching World101 either as a full course or using pieces from different modules to supplement your syllabi. So, Jean, why don't we go first to you, and then we'll turn to Steve.

ABSHIRE: Thank you for inviting me to join you today. I think I might be a World101 fan girl by now. I am on sabbatical now, and so I've only had one semester really of being able to use the modules, but I have a lot of ideas about how to implement them in future courses as well, but I will concentrate on what I've done thus far. As Irina said early on, I am at Indiana University Southeast, which is a public regional, primarily undergraduate university as part of the Indiana University system. But we are in metropolitan Louisville, Kentucky, although we have a lot of students from small rural towns in southern Indiana who are not very globally minded. So that's my context. I've used World101 modules in two classes thus far, intro to international relations and intro to international studies. In intro to international relations, the portion of the course where I used it was entirely online, and I basically just gave the students the modules and told them to go it. And then to confirm their attention to the modules, the assessments that Charlie just mentioned, I had the students do screenshots of their module screen at the end of each one and then submit those screenshots. Largely as a checkoff, obviously, I suppose they could have shared them, although each picture looked a little bit different. But Charlie also mentioned that they are formative, students can go back and retake the assessment as many times as necessary, but it will drive them back to information in the modules to try to make sure that they actually learn it. And then I also had the—my cat is just shown up, sorry. I also had the students engage in an online discussion where they were asked to integrate ideas and information from actually a couple of the modules relating to international political economy. And as part of that they were required to cite evidence from the learning and the modules. And they did that with kind of, honestly, a surprising amount of success, I was quite pleased with it. And I kind of contrast their performance on the World101 sections with the data I have from the videos that I made for them on other topics, where unfortunately, the viewership of them was not quite what I would have hoped. I think that the sort of diverse elements of presentation from videos to charts and graphs and a lot of nice concrete examples makes the World101 modules really appealing. I also used it, as I said, in my intro to international studies class, where I, that was an in-person teaching experience. And for that, I pulled out segments from the modules, and that's one thing that I really liked about them as well, is you don't have to use an entire module. You can just pull out one piece and use it in class or outside of class independently. And the students responded to it really well, had a very fruitful discussion from the individual segments that I used. Also, in that particular class, we have a heavy concentration on critical thinking and practicing those skills and students are required to do some critical thinking, critical analysis, worksheets, where they look at arguments and evidence and the extra classroom reading list that Charlie mentioned a moment ago, that makes a really great source list for students to do that sort of thing. They're nicely curated lists with accessible but good quality items. So that's how I've used them thus far.

FASKIANOS: Great. Steve, over to you.

ELLIOTT-GOWER: Okay, well, thank you. I'm pleased to be here. I teach at Georgia College, which is a public liberal arts college in central Georgia, we have about six thousand students. Maybe ninety percent of those students are from metro Atlanta, north Atlanta. I am using World101 this semester in two honors sections of what we call here GC1Y, Georgia College first year, it's essentially a freshman seminar, which focuses on critical thinking. My particular section of Georgia College—GC1Y—is global challenges, and I decided to adopt World101 completely this semester, I built the entire course around the World101 content. And it's a lot of content. So I've included, I began with the "Regions of the World," and we kind of rushed through that one region per class period, which felt like a hundred yard sprint. And now we're into the second section of the course, the "Global Era Issues," and we're slowing down the pace a little bit when teaching this unit of the course. And we're spending maybe two to four class periods on seven of the eleven global era issues. And I actually have been incorporating some of the Model Diplomacy simulations in this part of the course. Pretty truncated version, so we're just spending maybe one and a half class periods on one of the Model Diplomacy courses, we just completed the "Drones in Pakistan" simulation, for example. And I was really pleased how it went, even with this highly truncated version of Model Diplomacy. Because of COVID, I'm teaching both of these classes online. And in thirty years of college teaching, I've never taught online before, so I was really kind of anxious and nervous at the beginning of the semester. But it's going pretty well. The one—maybe the one thing I knew I'd read about somewhere about teaching online is that it's really, really important to have well-produced, well-designed multimedia materials, instructional materials. And certainly, World101 provides that type of content, as Charlie was saying, well, not necessarily as Charlie was saying, but the information is presented in smallish, digestible chunks, which is great for online teaching. And then you have infographics and graphs and the short videos and some interactive features, and I think it works really well for online teaching. I certainly miss the classroom, I miss being able to read a class when I walk in and tell who's with me and who's not. But I think having this really well-designed material helps teaching this online.

FASKIANOS: Fantastic. So we're going to go to your questions now. If you click on the participants icon at the bottom of your screen, you can raise your hand there and I'll call on you, or you can write your question in the Q&A box. And I just want to pick up on what Steve said and just a big shout out to CFR President Richard Haass for this vision, and of course, my colleague, Vice President of Education Caroline Netchvolodoff, for their leadership in putting together these materials. Cary is leading the Education team and Richard is really putting his full weight behind this idea to foster an informed citizenry, give people the knowledge that they need to know what's going on around the world, even if they may not be majoring in international relations. This idea that having the fundamentals, a fundamental understanding of the world is so important and I think we're seeing that play out now, as we're all in the midst of this pandemic. So there is a first question in the Q&A box from Dan Whitman, about the reading list, are the materials copyright free? And I guess we'll go to you, Charlie.

HOPKINS: Sure, I can address that. So materials that CFR has produced itself are copyrighted, better are released under Creative Commons, so you can certainly share them widely just with the restriction that it's identified as CFR content. The reading list, and just, you can scroll down to the bottom of the page, and there's details on that or feel free to reach out. The reading list is curated from publications around the country in the world. So it's every publication has their own copyright situation. It's things like the New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, some of those I realize are subscription, but hopefully most libraries have access to them. So those are just things that we've identified that others have published, but that we think are high quality and related to the module.

FASKIANOS: Great. And we have a question from Katherine Barbieri. And you can just please accept the unmute prompt, and tell us what college you're with.

ABSHIRE: Hi, I'm Katherine Barbieri from University of South Carolina, I participated in one of your educators workshops a few years ago and learned about 101. And so I've used the modules at times in course, when I was teaching in person, a few of them on trade, and the one on exchange rates and money were really useful. Now, this semester, I'm online, and I have one asynchronous course. And so I have used the whole module. But I wanted to build the course around the modules, what I found to be—I love it—but I found that the level it was pitched to really vary by module. So there were some that seem that they were more targeted to like high school, the more—I didn't feel comfortable assigning them to college students. And then there were others that are really challenging. So I just wonder if you all notice differences, but I'm just giving you my comments. So I teach at a large—University of South Carolina, it's a large school, thirty-five thousand. And I've been teaching—I just started teaching a course with one hundred and eighty students that is asynchronous, my first time online, my first time teaching that course, intro to global politics, but I teach an intro to IR class, that's a higher level every year, and that has about ninety students. And so turns out there's some overlap so I'm trying to do different things, but I'd really like to design a course around this. So I may have to propose one called "Global Era Issues." I talked too much. I just wanted Steve and Jean, I loved your presentations, I wonder if you would share your syllabi?

ELLIOTT-GOWER: Oh, sure. Yeah.

ABSHIRE: Mine are sort of standard, like intro to international relations that I've just slotted the World101 modules into as they fit. Steve has a more narrowly, specifically designed course. Right?

ELLIOTT-GOWER: Right. And that's what I'm teaching with this freshman seminar. We have the opportunity at Georgia College to propose different topics within the GC1Y critical thinking class. And so I have been teaching this global challenges class, like a global issues class, for, well, gosh, for probably twelve years now. And just switched up the content just this past year. I'm intrigued to see the materials that will come out in unit three, because I think there is at least the potential of using this material to teach either an intro to IR class using the unit three material or maybe an intro to U.S. foreign policy class.

FASKIANOS: Great. So I have two questions: a follow up question for you, Charlie, and I'm going to combine a couple of questions that are from the chat. The first is are you, on the site, posting professors' syllabi they give you, to Katherine's point? And the second is we've got two questions that are basically the same. All these topics change very quickly, will they be updated on a regular basis to keep the material relevant? So two people asked that.

HOPKINS: Great, thank you. Yeah, both excellent questions. To the first, that's actually a feature we're working on right now is soliciting some syllabuses from instructors and finding a place to put them. So coming soon, watch this space. And in terms of the updating, yes, absolutely. I mean, I think that the COVID content is the most obvious example, that's a phenomenon that's only about six months old, but we've put together some stuff. But also, yes, we have a comprehensive process for keeping track of everything. And that's everything from maybe we have a graph about global levels of heart disease, and every year, then a new year of data comes out and we update the graph, it's little things like that. But it's also very big things. We wrote a really great lesson that we started on also a couple years ago, it was one of the first ones we wrote, about NAFTA. Because it's a big deal. It's really important. As you all know, we've now signed a new treaty that supersedes NAFTA. And so that's something that we're in the process of making some edits to and revising the talk about that as well. The story of that asset hasn't changed too much, but we're definitely keeping up the details about exactly what that is, and everything in between. So yes, we're acutely aware. I mean, that's the great thing about a web platform is that you don't have to wait for the next edition of the book to come out, we can make edits fairly quickly.

ELLIOTT-GOWER: And I did notice, Charlie, that you updated some of the Model Diplomacy simulations over the summer.

HOPKINS: Yes, yes. Same thing for Model Diplomacy. I think currency is something that we feel is really important that we want instructors to be able to rely on the fact that our stuff is up to date. And again, we hope you'll let us know if you think it's not, or if there's something we may have missed.

FASKIANOS: Great. The next question comes from Amy Heath-Carpentier who's an assistant director at Washington University in St. Louis. And she—this is for you, Steve and Jean. Any lessons learned about doing simulations online, I'm jumping into my first simulation online with my gender analysis for international affairs students?

ABSHIRE: Good for you. Steve, you specifically mentioned doing simulations, but I do as well. So but you want to go first?

ELLIOTT-GOWER: Yeah, sure. Yeah, I actually did my first online simulation just—what's the date today, Thursday? So it was last week and the beginning of this week. So my experience is pretty recent. And I would say that doing simulations online, teaching online, generally, I guess, can be a little bit clunky. It's not as fluid as teaching in the classroom. I guess the major issue that I had teaching this, again, this highly truncated version of the "Drones in Pakistan" simulation was just like getting students into their breakout rooms quickly, and it just sort of lacks the fluidity—that's the best word I can come up with—of teaching simulations in the classroom. Having said that, it's eminently doable. And probably the clunkiness may, of course, be my problem.

FASKIANOS: Great. Go ahead, Jean.

ABSHIRE: Yeah. So since I am on sabbatical, I've actually not done a simulation online. But in preparation for doing two of them next spring, I have been playing a lot of pedagogical simulations online in the last several months and I do have some thoughts. First of all, because Steve mentioned the clunkiness of the breakout rooms. The newest version of Zoom—or the second newest, I think it's the second newest—actually allows participants to put themselves in breakout rooms. And I think that's a big deal for those doing simulations, because that takes a lot of weight off the faculty member and trying to move people around. So that's one thing I wanted to make sure that folks are aware of. Also, either doing them synchronously on Zoom, or if you're doing them asynchronously, but also actually in-class face-to-face simulations as well, I've had a lot of luck using the platform Slack. It allows for chat, it allows for document sharing. It allows for private group conversations as well as all group discussions. I have not had students have any difficulty learning to use it. It's free for use up to a certain number of messages, and maybe a certain number of participants, but I haven't hit a ceiling on that. So that's another tool that I have found really useful.

FASKIANOS: Fantastic, written question from Dennis Holtschneider, it's great that you're on Dennis, who leads the American Association of Catholic Universities. He wants to roll this out to all member universities via preferred marketing materials I should use or should I simply send them to our website, Charlie.

HOPKINS: That's wonderful. Thank you. So exciting to hear. You certainly can send folks to the website, but I'd be happy to email you after the session with some more things if you want to put together some flyers or anything, we'd be happy to work with you on that. And the same with anyone else. Either reach out to Irina or just send something to [email protected].

FASKIANOS: Fantastic. Okay, so the next question comes from Pamela Waldron-Moore, who is the department chair of political science at Xavier University of Louisiana. Charlie, can you give an example of simulation strategies that you've used in the classroom and or online? Or I think maybe Steve, this might be—you can also chime in on this because you've been doing this

ELLIOTT-GOWER: Yeah, sure. The simulations that I've used, I think I've used probably four or five of the twenty or so simulations. I've mentioned the "Drones in Pakistan," which is a simulation that focuses on issues of terrorism and sovereignty, intelligence. I've also used one which deals with a clash between Japan and China in the East China Sea, which deals with some of the same issues with sovereignty and nationalism. So the simulations, because there is often a concept which is to be illustrated through the simulation, can be very useful in intro to IR classes. And I could talk about other simulations that I've used, but if you just go to the Model Diplomacy website, you'll see very clearly what concepts are designed to be taught through the simulation.

FASKIANOS: Great. Charlie, go ahead.

HOPKINS: I was just going to quickly add, we've got some, especially in the last few months, we've written some additional instructor resources on Model Diplomacy specifically about doing simulations online. So I encourage you, if you've got a login—the logins are all free—once you're logged into Model Diplomacy, there are some instructional resources under the know how to teach online and that sort of thing.

FASKIANOS: Great. Let's go to Elsa Dias. Next. She's a professor at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs, do you plan to include topics like food security, water conflicts, and REEs? Perhaps, they're already included. And how do you put the modules into the LMS? How do they work for student access? And Katherine also asked about this, can you consider having LMS integration for—sorry, Blackboard, you seem to have it for Canvas?

HOPKINS: Great question. To the person who is asking about Blackboard, any day now. We're literally in final stages of testing on that I think it's going to roll out very, very shortly. And, yeah, so we do have LTI integration, it's fully tested and there's instructions about Canvas up there right now, Blackboard and Moodle coming very, very soon. If there are other LMS that you're interested in, let us know, it may just be a matter of testing, and they'll work right away, or it's something we can look into. But we know those are kind of the three biggies. You can also—so let me back up, the LTI you can really integrate a module or lesson directly into your site, and you can put a due date on it. And you can make students have a—write a written response and organize it exactly how you want in your modules in your LMS. You certainly can also just copy and paste links to the webpage if you're not quite at the point where you're building all your content inside of your LMS. So it certainly works that way too because there's no logging in or anything, it's just right there with the link. And food security and water, we don't have an entire module devoted to those topics. But they are covered, especially in "Regions of the World." Jean's nodding like she's been in there recently.

ABSHIRE: Some of them are also covered in, isn't there material—I'm trying to remember exactly—also in, I want to say, development? Some of that gets touched on.

HOPKINS: Yes, I think so. We have eighteen modules and I've read four more that haven't been published yet. I have most of it memorized at this point, but not quite all of it.

ABSHIRE: Yeah. I don't have it all memorized either, but I've seen those topics in there.

HOPKINS: So yeah, development in unit one and certainly in "Regions of the World." But yeah, I think it's an important topic and one I think we'll continue to look at adding more about.

FASKIANOS: Great. The next question comes from Laila Bicharas. She's at State University of New York in Farmingdale, teaches international business among other subjects, and her question is how much of current events news articles, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, are included?

HOPKINS: Yeah, I think we kind of walk a line, and I'll be curious to hear Jean and Steve's opinions about how we do this and how well we do it, we're not in the business of updating it every day as stories break. I think we're looking to offer sufficient background so that if you do look at the front page of the New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, you're able to jump right into whatever that day's article is and to know enough about all the terms and all the underlying issues that might be involved. So we are looking for something that's a little bit evergreen, that doesn't—that can apply to any story that might show up on the front page of the newspaper over the next few weeks or months. So we're certainly not competing with news sources, but are trying to provide that background. I don't know if Steve or Jean, if you've got any other thoughts about how you think about that, or how they work together?

ELLIOTT-GOWER: Yeah, I like the long form journalism articles that are included on the website. But also I subscribe to—you have a sort of a, or CFR, has a news clipping service, I can't quite remember what it's called, but it's a daily service. And so I look at that every day and I will copy and paste articles from that online clipping service to my class website, especially if it's relevant to something that we're discussing today or over the next week, or articles that are related to topics that students are writing their papers on. So I've been doing a lot of that just recently with articles on climate change and deforestation in Brazil, on corruption in various parts of the world. So that, so using that—that's an old-fashioned word isn't it, clipping service—but using that product in conjunction with the—dates me for sure—but using that product in conjunction with the online materials has proved to be really useful.

FASKIANOS: Great. So Pamela asked for the URL. Again, I typed it into chat, but I'm not sure if I sent it to her privately or to everybody. So just to say it out loud, it's world101.cfr.org. And, Steve, you mentioned the news clipping. So that's produced by our digital team, our editorial team, and it's called The World This Week. It's a daily newsletter that you can all sign up for in the newsletter section of our website, you can sign up for different things. We've got newsletters that focus on specific regions like Asia, functional areas, the Middle East, we've got one for CFR Academic, which kind of brings together resources from all across the Council, be at Foreign Affairs, or the Ed department, or the Studies department, and we try to group that by region or topic, so you can sign up for that as well. But Steve, the daily newsletter is really great, The World This Week, because they really do—it sources from around the world and it's not just CFR content. And generally speaking, we are not trying to just feature our own content on our website, we are trying to curate, for all of you and others, really high quality articles, primary materials, you name it. So there's a lot of content to explore on our website. Alright, so the next question is from Jim Harrington, professor of economics at Nashua Community College in New Hampshire, my home state, so thank you for this question. His LMS is Brightspace, and he wants to know if that's on your list, Charlie.

HOPKINS: That is not one that we are in development right now. I know it's fairly widely used, maybe we can connect afterwards and it might be great if you can help us test it a little bit and see. But it's something we can definitely look into. And we so appreciate folks reaching out and saying, how about this, how about this, it's really helpful for us to get a sense of where the demand is so we can prioritize. So that's one checkbox for Brightspace on our list.

FASKIANOS: So we're currently holding for more questions. But I do have one, because one of the—Jean, you mentioned it about critical thinking. And I think that this product, the educational products, were developed with the eye toward helping students develop their critical thinking skills. So can you talk about, and this is open to all of you, the course skills students can gain from World101? And how do you feel that it builds upon what they need to know effectively to participate in today's society?

ABSHIRE: Sure, specifically with regard to critical thinking, and I think it should be acknowledged that critical thinking is contested in its definition. The way we define it, in our general education curriculum is basically looking at arguments and the evidence behind them, trying to sort out bias, things like that, and especially with the classroom assignments reading list that I mentioned earlier, that's with each module, and I think again, has been coming carefully curated, you can get a wide variety of articles and podcasts from diverse sources. And so I think that that helps it be a really good resource for that sort of thing. Because the way I approach it is I want my students to be looking at diverse sorts of sources and doing that. But also, with, like, the debate that I mentioned, relating to international political economy, there was sufficient material in the modules for students to be able to make arguments for and against free trade and protectionism. And I think looking at varying approaches to issues and different alternatives in terms of public policy, and issues are also an essential part of critical thinking, but also just of being an informed, thoughtful citizen, and making choices for elected officials, but also what folks might advocate for. I think the array of issues within the modules, and obviously, there's all the topics, but embedded within that are a lot of smaller pieces that can be pulled in. I think that wide array is also really valuable, because people need to be well rounded. And there was an earlier comment, I guess, more than a question, that there was some variability in the difficulty or sophistication level of the modules. And I agree with that. I have thus far only used these in introductory level classes, I do imagine using them, to some degree, as more context and background in advanced classes, although not as primary teaching tools as I have in the 100 levels. But, honestly, what I find, and I mean, it does vary greatly, a lot of my students lacked that basic knowledge that one would hope that they would come in with from high school. And so if it's a review, or a little bit too rudimentary for some, it might not be for others. And I think that's a reality in every classroom, that there's going to be variability in where the students are coming from. And so, I'm not really disturbed by the fact that there is some—the monetary policy content, for example, is harder than some of the regional studies area content, stuff like that. That's how it is, but that's how our students are, too.

ELLIOTT-GOWER: Yeah, and like Jean, one of the principal learning objectives in my class is critical thinking. And just to give you an example of that, I found the Model Diplomacy simulation that we did recently on "Drones in Pakistan" to be really useful because the students are presented with four options in this simulation. One is to launch a drone strike to eliminate a terrorist, the other is to conduct a special forces operation, the third option is to hand over the operation to the Pakistani government, and the fourth option is to do nothing. And so students really have to think through the pros and cons of all of those four options and weigh them against one another. And that really does oblige some to think deeply and carefully, not only about the pros and cons of each individual option, but how they compare to one another. The other kind of big learning outcome in my class using the World101 materials is global civic literacy, and the World101 materials really do provide good content for at least a part of that, that is global literacy, understanding some basic things about regions of the world and important global issues. And then what I'm doing with other materials, is layering in that sort of civic part of the learning objective, think about how students can act as individuals or as part of groups to learn more about these issues to affect certain global outcomes to think about how these issues affect their lives at the local level. One thing I forgot to mention, by the way, was that I'm using the World101 materials in conjunction with Dr. Richard Haass's new book, The World: A Brief Introduction, and the two work really nicely together.

FASKIANOS: Fantastic. I think that there was a question too, as Richard has developed a syllabus for his book, which is online, so you can access that.

ELLIOTT-GOWER: It came out the day before I started teaching.

FASKIANOS: I know, I know it was a mad rush to get that posted. So everybody should take a look at that. Because they are complimentary, for sure. So building on what you just said, Steve, about citizenship, Elsa Dias asks how do the modules encourage students to develop skills as participants in global citizenship? Do they provide students with places to engage in volunteer opportunities? And obviously, that's hard now during the pandemic, but offer virtual engagement that connect with the modules.

ELLIOTT-GOWER: I don't think that they do. But what they do is they provide that foundational knowledge, that foundational global literacy, to make informed decisions about global issues.

FASKIANOS: Right. And Elsa, just for you, we have a paid internship program at the Council. And one of the benefits of being in this pandemic is that we are working remotely and all the internships are remote, but we are continuing with them. So it is allowing students—you don't have to be in the New York area or the DC area to have an internship at CFR. You can be anywhere. So I would really encourage your students. We are asking that students have at least four, I believe it's four semesters of college work because we want a certain level. It's not exactly volunteering at a service organization, but it is great exposure to international relations. And again, it's a really good lifeline, I think, during this pandemic, so you should check it out on our website. And we also have fellowships for tenured professors, I'm just going to take this opportunity now to plug that. I think the deadline is up—is coming up or has passed, but it is an opportunity to spend a year in residence or be placed actually at like the State Department for a year, take a sabbatical from your university and go work at the State Department, or we'll place you in some kind of practitioner setting. So if any of you are coming up on sabbatical, you should take advantage, look at those opportunities, as well. They're in the same career opportunity tab on our website. Okay, so I'm going now to—

ABSHIRE: May I jump in on this? I guess, ideally, I want my students volunteering in refugee organizations or CFR internship or things like that, too. But I would encourage people, I guess, to think more broadly about how we understand and how we practice citizenship. Citizenship within a state involves having civil conversations with other people, it involves writing letters to the editor, it involves writing to your representatives, or calling them and I also have the global citizenship goals within my department and my classes, and if my students are out engaged in dialogue with their peers, or with their family members—holidays are coming—or they're blogging or writing emails to their congressional representatives, or whatever. That's global citizenship, and I'm delighted by that. I'm all about internships and volunteer work, too, but if they can infuse it in their daily lives, I think that might actually be best.

FASKIANOS: That's great, Jean. It's important, and also registering to serve as a poll worker for the elections since we are now in this. Traditionally, it's been senior citizens that have been working at the polls and with the risk of this virus, I think we're seeing young adults going and volunteering, which is so amazing, that they're really rising up and want to contribute to their communities in that way. So the next question comes from Laura Tedesco at St. Louis University, Madrid campus, about the demand, I'm sure that there's a lot of demand for this material outside the United States. I would also like to know if all the material for students comes from U.S. sources, it'd be great if there were material from different countries and regions. So, Charlie?

HOPKINS: Yeah, I think a big part of our audience certainly is in the United States. But we do think about that. I think the reading lists for the modules—everything is in English language, so that does limit us a little bit. We're not going to assume students speak a foreign language, but especially in "Regions of the World" we try to point folks to high quality local journalism, point folks to some cultural works, some important news stories that are written in the places that they're about, and then also when we're writing these modules, we're working closely with CFR fellows who travel or are from various parts of the world. We have a really diverse staff, who works on this as well, which is really great. So yeah, I mean, it's certainly something we think about, and I think in particular "Regions of the World" reading lists are places where we put a particular emphasis on trying to pull in some sources that are published outside the U.S.

FASKIANOS: Great. I am looking—Laila made a nice comment in the chat about World101 offers great resources that accelerate the development of hybrid and online courses, helped set the foundation and fill some of the knowledge gaps some students might lack. So yes, that's great. We hope that's the case. The tenure fellowship deadline is October 31. My team just gave me the date, so thank you for that. And then we have no more questions, but for the final thing. I just wanted to ask you, Steve and Jean, if there are any other CFR resources that you use to complement World101 for supplementary materials. Are you using Foreign Affairs? And then we will give Charlie the final word.

ELLIOTT-GOWER: As I said, the sort of principle text that I'm using is Richard Haass's The World: A Brief Introduction in three hundred pages, which is kind of a remarkably disciplined piece of work to explain the world in three hundred pages. I'm also using a lot of material from The Economist, as well as articles from Foreign Affairs. All of the material I'm using is a little bit, to address that previous question, is a little bit U.S. or Euro centric, and you just have to be mindful of that and recognize that there are other perspectives on these issues. So one thing that I do—just very, very briefly—is as an exercise, I assign students to be a global villager, somebody from somewhere else in the world, to look at an issue from their kind of local perspective and look at some local news items that deal with the same issue that we're dealing with, from this Western perspective, maybe The Times of India or something like that, or English language, Chinese newsletter, newspaper.


ABSHIRE: Yeah. So I was going to defer to Steve, because I probably don't do as much of the CFR resources as I should, I made a few notes. I didn't know about the clipping service, for example.

FASKIANOS: That's the benefit of these gatherings. You learn about other things.

ABSHIRE: Also when you can come and present, but also learn something, that's gold standard. But I also am sensitive to the diverse perspectives issue, and I have assignments built in, where students are forced to go look at news sources from other countries and such as that. Factiva, for example, allows, I think it is, which is a database that some of your libraries might have, allows searching in diverse new sources and stuff like that. So I train my students on that and have them go hunting.


HOPKINS: Well, it's been a few years since I've been in a classroom. So I don't know if I can answer what I use in the classroom. But I will say, I think we really mean it, I appreciate all the questions and I've got a couple that I know I need to follow up on. And so I really do mean it and say, I hope that you'll reach out if you've got additional feedback or questions or another LMS that you'd love to have us take a look at as well. Or anything of any of those kinds, or feedback on monetary policy is really hard or whatever—those are great, too. Monetary policy is really hard, I was not good at economics in college. But I really encourage you to please let us know how we can help and sign up for our newsletter, follow us on social media, because we've got some really great things coming out this month and beyond.

FASKIANOS: Wonderful. So thank you all for being with us today and talking, presenting World101 and sharing your best practices. We really appreciate it. And to all of you for being part of this, your questions, we hope you become power users of World101 as well as all the other great content on CFR. As Charlie said, you can follow @World101_CFR and @CFR_Academic on Twitter, use World101 and Model Diplomacy as teaching materials, you can go to CFR.org. And we also have a special website that's looking at health issues, ThinkGlobalHealth.org, which is obviously so important during this time, as well as ForeignAffairs.com, we have a special rate for students. I know that everybody is tight on money, but it is relatively cheap, and it's a good resource. So you should look there, too. But CFR.org, World101, and Model Diplomacy are free. So that is really important. Thank you again, I hope you're all staying well, healthy. And thank you for participating today. We look forward to having you join us again in this virtual forum.


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