The 2011 Global Honors College program brought together 28 students from 8 universities in the United States and Asia. This summer’s program consisted of two parts: the Online Phase (online distance learning in the first half of the program) and the Onsite Phase (intensive research seminar in the program’s second half). Under the instruction of four prominent faculty members from their respective fields of marine biology, marine conservation, social and human environmental studies, earth and environmental science, international trading and theoretical economics, the group of the students took the program’s main theme “Sustainability” one step further and focused on this year’s sub-theme, “Food.”
The Online Phase, in which instruction through on-line lectures on demand as well as various assignment topics and academic references were provided, required students not only to take lectures and submit assignments but also to give comments on reports turned in by other students. The online discussions turned out to be as lively as a face-to-face meeting would be, with one particular assignment receiving 217 comments.
In August, all the participating students and faculty gathered at the National University of Singapore for the Onsite Phase. The group utilized knowledge and theories acquired during the Online Phase to pursue in-depth studies. Three field trips, a number of lectures and active discussions kept the group busy and motivated every day. Further, group work and research to present their studies and to explore solutions to global challenges at hand took place after class and often continued into late hours.
On August 19, the students concluded this year’s program with group research presentations including policy recommendations, on a topic related to sustainability and food that includes both biophysical and socioeconomic aspects. The topics of the 30 minute presentation by 7 groups included “the Salmon Industry in British Columbia”, “Is the Palm Oil Industry Sustainable?”, “Project Rice”. The participating students came out of their heated discussions with recognition of the challenges that they commonly face. The review by the faculty members followed and the program was brought to its end.
Some participants from Waseda commented that they had a very exciting and precious time studying with students of the world’s top universities and that the program has helped them see their own future challenges. Likewise, it seems the program was a valuable experience for students overseas. Below is a comment from one of the participants overseas.
I just wanted to thank all of you for all the time and effort put into creating and coordinating the wonderful programming for the Global Honors College. Together the online and on-site components have been one of the most rewarding academic and international experiences of my life. I feel that I now have a much more critical and in depth understanding of the issues surrounding global sustainability. In my future pursuits, especially in my studies of public policy, I believe this global and multidisciplinary perspective will be very helpful. Also, I had a truly fantastic time exploring and learning about Singapore, a chance I likely would not have gotten if not for this program. In fact, this trip was my first time in an Asian country other than China, so the field trips and sightseeing with fellow students provided a great introduction. Moreover, I treasure the friendships that developed throughout our time together. It is rare to have the opportunity to meet students from so many different institutions and countries in one class, and it is perhaps even rarer to get to know them so well and become as close as we all did through the program. GHC has been an amazing and invaluable experience for me, so thank you again for making this program possible.
Alice Xiang (Harvard University)
Columbia University, Harvard University, Korea University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, National University of Singapore, Peking University, University of Washington, Yale University, Waseda University