Trips to the Boston Symphony, walks in College Woods, and listening to guest speakers like School Deans, the Provost, and the University President are just a few of the exciting opportunities available to students who take this course. While the expectations of completing homework assignments and participating in class are similar to other Honors courses, Janet Polasky’s Global Citizenship is far from standard. Instead of teaching material to memorize for exams, Global Citizenship focuses on stimulating students to synthesize, analyze, and draw on their own personal experiences.
In this course, students are unafraid to discuss and get excited about new ideas and challenges. The discussions and experiences contribute to the course’s final project which Professor Polasky stresses is completely student-directed…“What’s really important is framing and re-framing the question - it’s not about the final product, it’s about the process.”
So, what does it really mean to be a global citizen? It may not be exactly what you expect. According to Professor Polasky, “It begins in the classroom and goes outside the classroom. Students are willing to bring in their own experiences and share them with me and other students - I learn so much more in this class.” The goal of this course is to teach students about global citizenship, but also to show students all the open doors around the university and all the people who are here for them. As Professor Polasky says, “It is up to students to knock on those doors so they can see that anything is possible.”
Professor Polasky stresses the importance of realizing that we are all global citizens and uses this course to teach students that same idea. The concept of cosmopolitanism can be understood in so many different ways; however, in Global Citizenship, it’s about bringing together students from different fields of study and helping them discover their common basis; it’s about bringing outside people into the classroom to hear real-world perspectives; it’s about venturing outside the classroom to learn about how interconnected the world is. These adventures can be as complex as dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant and attending the Boston Symphony or as simple as Professor Polasky joining the students at the dining hall to see what breakfast is like for them.
The final project of this course, as mentioned before, is purely student-directed, and Professor Polasky makes it clear that this is critical in allowing the students to be creative and be themselves. Several Nursing students who were interested in nutrition decided to talk about fermentation in terms of preserving food in countries that don’t have refrigeration. One student used his final project to describe how the game “Pokemon Go” could be used as a new way to view the world as interconnected. A Natural Resources student talked about the conservationist, Aldo Leopold, and his relationship to land, taking the entire class on a walk through College Woods, and getting the professor and class to rethink their views of trees, birds and nature. This walk culminated in a dinner at Professor Polasky’s house, which was a complete Italian meal prepared by a student of Italian background who shared this food as her final project.
Beyond this class, students are inspired in several ways to apply the knowledge they gained to the real world. Professor Polasky says, “I’m excited about the number of students from the class that figured out ways to study abroad (even if it doesn’t fit in their major) because they see international connections as important”. Students learn that detours can be good in life and to take advantage of the opportunities available to them now. Further, many students were inspired by this course to push for revised Discovery courses, so much so that they have met with the faculty senate to discuss curricular reform in order to make course structures more similar to that of Global Citizenship.
Courses like these are essential to the university - not only do students learn and gain so much more than from other classes, but the professor does as well. Global Citizenship is about exactly that - recognizing our roles and responsibilities as citizens of the interconnected world we live in. Whether it’s as big as studying abroad across the world, or as small as having critical discussions with faculty and staff here at UNH, getting outside the classroom can make all the difference.
“Global Citizenship is the best class that I have taken at UNH. The discussion-based classes allowed us to explore topics that we were interested in, and our final projects could be on whatever we wanted which allowed us to be creative and share with the class what we were passionate about. I learned so much about what it means to be a global citizen, and how I can use that knowledge to better the UNH community.”
"I took Professor Polasky's Global Citizenship course in the fall of my senior year as my last required Discovery/Honors course and I am incredibly pleased that I did, as it is by far my favorite Discovery course I have ever taken. Professor Polasky injected a generous amount of class discussion into the course, which was completely refreshing and a welcome reprieve from my engineering lectures. I expected the subject matter to be unyielding and broad but instead found myself engaged in meaningful discourse about our own university community class after class, which made the historical material that we covered applicable on a personal level I did not expect. I truly wish that all students at UNH could have the privilege of taking Global Citizenship with Professor Polasky, as I walked away from the course with more than a few of my old notions regarding our place and duty in the world exchanged for new ones that I will ponder for a while to come."