Sociology Students Participate in Innovative Global Classroom

Students taking “Topics in Human Rights” during the Spring 2019 semester experienced a global perspective, one of the hallmarks of a Marymount education. Building on a partnership between their two universities, Marymount’s sociology professor Matt Bakker and professor Terry Graham from ITESO University in Guadalajara, Mexico, brought their students together for a semester of innovative, cross-border learning.

By incorporating globally networked learning, the professors encouraged their students to examine human rights topics from multiple perspectives. These two courses were connected through videoconferencing five times over the semester, engaging in classroom discussions and debates across our national borders. Students from both universities also worked together in groups, completing a semester-long research activity focused on using social media for strategic human rights campaigns.

Over spring break, students and faculty from both universities travelled together to Lisbon, Portugal. While there, they toured the city, engaged with Portuguese scholars, and visited local community-based organizations to learn how the continuing legacy of Portuguese colonialism influences human rights, migration, refugee flows, and race relations in this European context. Bringing course materials into vivid relief, these experiences gave students the chance to compare both the content and the impact of refugee policies in different parts of the world.

Senior Aya Al-Alami sums up the value of Marymount’s global classroom from a student’s perspective:

“Our trip to Portugal allowed me to explore the material we learned in class on a deeper level, while also allowing me to explore parts of myself and my ideas about the world. I always had a personal view on human rights given my identity as a Palestinian-American woman but this trip enhanced my worldview and encouraged me to think about what I can do as an individual to effectively raise awareness and alleviate human rights issues that are important to me. Given the positive effects this class and trip had on me, I look forward to seeing what else Professor Bakker and Professor Graham will do in collaboration with Marymount and ITESO to help create a generation of both thinkers and doers.”

This is the second globally networked class offered by Marymount’s sociology program and organized with the Center for Global Education. The other is “The Global Village,” offered in partnership with Hanze University in the Netherlands. Innovative classroom experiences such as these illustrate the best of a Marymount education: beyond simply studying “the global”, students actively take part in the making of cross-border connections and thereby solidifying their understanding of the world and their place in it.

If you want to know more about globally networked classes or Marymount’s Global Classroom Series, please contact the Sociology Department or the Center for Global Education.