Currents: Understanding and addressing global challenges is Edinburgh Futures Institute’s first undergraduate course launching this September. The multi-disciplinary elective will give students the opportunity to explore a current challenge facing the world from the perspective of different disciplines.
Not surprisingly, the focus for the first offering in autumn term will be the Covid-19 pandemic. Using the current crisis as an opportunity for students to learn how to make sense of relevant datasets and gain the critical awareness, knowledge and skills to better understand the complexities and global impact of this defining challenge.
The elective is open to all undergraduate students from any discipline and will delivered fully online in the first term. Subsequent courses will be offered in a hybrid format. Students will create an asset related to their personal experience and understanding of the pandemic. These assets, written or visual, performative or digital, will contribute to the University’s archive of the lived experience of global challenges.
Professor Liz Grant, Assistant Principal (Global Health) and course lead, says:
“For the rest of our lives the period we are living through will be known as the time of COVID. Our lives, and the lives of those to come will be indefinably shaped by this story. But how we understand the COVID story depends also on how we see the world that we are living in, and how we understand our place in the world. This course will examine the pandemic, the ways in which it was experienced across the globe, its impact on society, inequalities and injustices. We will look at the intended and unintended consequences of the global strategies, the ways that people responded and how new futures are emerging.”
Role of data
Alongside lectures by leading academics and professionals from industry, government and third sector, the course will include the role of data in understanding and responding to complex challenges. Students will explore how different data generated about the challenge are shaping our lives, and how different disciplinary perspectives offer critical new insights into how we might respond collectively.
Each year the course will focus on a live challenge facing the world and global communities. Offering students an opportunity to focus on highly current issues such as the climate crisis, financial recession, democracy or unrest as it is happening. The topic will be contextualised by the UN Sustainable Development Goals Agenda (2015-2030), and its vision of a world shaped by the common good, where no one is left behind and in which the needs of humanity are balanced with the preservation of the Earth.
Professor Siân Bayne, Director of Education, EFI, comments:
“The Currents course is a great example of the kind of education we want to continue to build through EFI. It’s led by Professor Liz Grant in the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, supported by Dr Andy Cross in Geosciences and built around expertise and input from academics across medicine, humanities, social sciences and the arts. It has a strong critical theme relating to data and its uses, and embeds new ways of thinking about assessment, public engagement and the values of inclusivity and the common good.”