Course Report: Citizens of the World with Thomas Bartscherer and Ewa Atanassow
This course report is provided by Thomas Bartscherer at Bard College Annandale and Ewa Atanassow at Bard College Berlin on a course taught simultaneously at both campuses in Spring 2017. Citizens of the World: Ancient, Modern, Contemporary was cross-listed with Experimental Humanities, and we are thrilled to share Professors Bartscherer and Atanassow’s pedagogical explorations!
This course was conceived in response to the call for proposals from Bard’s Center for Civic Engagement in Nov 2015, Teaching Global Citizenship, which aimed to link faculty and students on Bard campuses in various locations. We proposed to consider the topic of global citizenship from a historical and theoretical perspective, with a specific focus on the tensions between the particularity that characterizes membership in a given cultural and political community and the universality of the human condition.
The course we jointly composed—Citizens of the World: Ancient, Modern, Contemporary—examines the evolution of the concept of world citizenship, its philosophical and historical development and its political, moral, and psychological implications from antiquity to the present day. The course aims, among other things, to compare ideas about community in various regions and at different times, and to reflect on the nature and status of normative claims that may be thought to transcend cultural and political boundaries. The complete syllabus can be found HERE.
Alongside teaching a shared curriculum, we highlight the resonance between the content of the course and its form and procedures. Bringing together faculty and students from various origins to collaborate across international borders is a central feature of our shared inquiry into the meanings and possibility of global citizenship. In teaching the course, we have found that the challenges and opportunities associated with this cross-campus collaboration have enhanced the inquiry, and vice versa.
The collaboration began with extensive conversations, both electronically and in person, between the two instructors. We also consulted with faculty on both campuses who had taught the Global Citizenship course and/or who had expertise in related fields.
We decided to construct a common syllabus, so both groups of students would be reading the same texts at the same. We also developed a series of collaborative assignments, pairing students from each campus, and we have planned an inter-campus debate using live-streaming technology. Through these forums and assignments we explore in practice a microcosm of global community while we investigate in theory the concept of global citizenship.
Collaborative essay: the students are initially paired, one from each campus, to write a “collaborative essay.” First contact, via email, entails simple introductions. The students are then asked to collaborate on the writing of a single essay. They communicate via email, Google Docs, Skype, Facebook,etc. and develop together a response to the common prompt. Students take a variety of approaches, for example: combining their work into a single voice, exchanging and revising drafts; dividing the labor, with each student focusing on a different aspect of the essay; writing a Plato-style dialogue. The final product is uploaded to Google Classroom.
Individual essay and peer review: mid-semester, the original pairs are re-shuffled, so that for the second essay, each student works with a new partner. This time, students are given a common assignment to write individual essays, and then send a draft of the essay to their assigned partner for “peer review.” Students are given specific guidelines on how to approach the peer review. They are then asked to revise their original drafts in light of the review and to submit final drafts via Google Classroom.
Debates: students on each campus hold one internal debate. For this, each cohort works separately, deciding on a debate topic, separating into two groups, and debating one another. This prepares students for the inter-campus debate scheduled for the final week of the semester. For this debate, each team is comprised of students drawn from both campuses. The students work together over the internet in the week before the debate to prepare. The debate itself is conducted live over streaming video services.