Today there are 1 billion people living in Africa, speaking perhaps 2000 languages. The continent comprises 20% of the land of the planet, is enormously rich in natural and human resources, has gigantic cities, pockets of extreme wealth, a growing urban middle class, yet much of Africa is desperately poor with vast rural and urban populations attempting to live on less than $2 per day.
This course seeks to use African literature, history, autobiography, memoir, film, library and on-line sources to begin to understand the enormous complexity of contemporary Africa and the challenges facing the continent. A cornerstone of this course is the idea that knowledge creates responsibility and that we can make a difference through collaboration and mutual respect.
We begin our study of the current crisis in Africa by looking at the colonial and early national period and the challenges that European colonialism created for the continent. We will also learn about climate change, the risks it now poses to life on Earth, and Africa in particular. As we turning to literature from the present we will encounter issues such as economic and political corruption and collapse, resource exploitation, poverty, education, the condition of women, urbanization, emerging economies, the environment, diseases, immigration, etc.
Africa is young and growing quickly; half of the population of Africa is under 20 years old. More than 70% of the world's population growth in this century will take place in Africa. Most of our reading will be about young people, many college age, their life experiences and how they are addressing issues and creating new possibilities.
Learning about Africa often reflects back to a learning about the United States and the rest of the world. A clear goal is to learn that there is more than "a single story."
As the students in this class immerse themselves in learning about Africa, they will participate in making a difference in Africa via the Solutions Project. During our reading and study, students will focus on specific issues to engage in additional reading, research, action, and work with African and international organizations dedicated to a brighter future for the continent.
We will engage in reading and discussion, in a threaded on-line computer conference at Nicenet. Our threaded discusion connects reading and research and creates a collaborative, interactive community of learning. Our class will meet in an advanced laptop computer lab that I designed and that will facilitate technology enhanced learning.
Investigations of African life, history, religion, news, politics, etc. will help students learn more not only about the crisis in Africa but its rich and diverse cultures.
In this class students need to be informed about the world, especially Africa. Students are expected to read regularly the New York Times and other sources. WMU provides a free NYT subscription.
This course fulfills a General Education requirement for Distribution
Area IV: Other Cultures and Civilizations. This course will follow WMU
procedures regarding academic honesty.
Controversy and difference of opinion are welcomed.
Dr. Webb's office is 723 Sprau Tower, 387-2605, and his office hours
are Mon/Wed after class, and by appointment and email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Feeling stress? English 3140 offers free on-line therapy from Eliza.)