Community Curriculum Day marked the official start of Global Forum 2019, a five-day independent learning curriculum that will immerse students in the study of disease.
On Thursday, Nov. 1, Community Curriculum Day marked the official start of Winsor's 2019 Global Forum, "Sick Days: Disease and Its Role in Human Society." (Click here for the program summary). The day was an opportunity for students to gather information, share ideas and prepare for the five days in January when they will immerse themselves in the study of disease in order to uncover possible solutions to some of the most pressing global health challenges.
After months of anticipation, students learned their group assignments and began to delve into the work ahead. Focusing on the United Nations Development Program's Sustainable Development Goals (Click here for an overview), each group chose to work on communicable disease, non-communicable disease or vaccines/medicine, and agreed on a development goal and approach (Maker or Action Plan). They then selected a disease, a region where the disease exists, and a specific problem to solve based on the healthcare challenges of that region.
A riveting presentation by Natasha Hochberg '92, M.D., M.P.H. offered a closer look at diseases, the growing threats they pose, and the urgency behind the quest for solutions. Inspiring students as they pondered their Global Forum mission, Dr. Hochberg also spoke on campus in the spring, specifically about malaria as an expert on the Martina Brandegee Lawrence '25 Forum panel.
Brian Didier, head of the History Department and head of the Global Forum Planning Committee, and Global Forum Planning Committee members Rick Mosher, history faculty, Libby Parsley, history faculty, Ken Schopf, science faculty, and Kate Allen, math faculty, organized and facilitated the invaluable curriculum day, which included a faculty-staffed disease fair where students could gather relevant information to help inform their topic choice.
"Our primary goal with the curriculum day was to get the kids engaged and excited," says Mr. Didier. "We also wanted to give them a framework and a clear set of tasks for the week." Feedback and observation from the first Global Forum two years ago informed the decision to provide more upfront structure, and to add a new twist: on the final day, all groups will present their findings and proposed solutions to a panel of judges.
"Theoretically, there's no question a program like this is a fantastic idea. Practically, it's difficult to implement. Independent learning is hard. We knew that when embarked on the first Global Forum. We're going to make mistakes, and it won't be perfect. But we're building momentum. And I really think it's worth it. To get students to not just talk about global issues, but to really engage and seek solutions in today's increasingly complicated world, that's invaluable."
The aim of the Winsor School's Global Forum is to offer a distinct five-day curriculum for the entire school in which problem-solving skills, design-thinking pedagogies, interdisciplinary approaches, and global competencies are applied to real-world problems and global issues. A separate yet complementary curriculum, the 2019 forum will allow students and faculty the time and freedom to immerse themselves collectively in the study of disease, and will serve as an "innovation lab" for creative approaches to teaching and problem solving. Disease, like other issues of local and global significance–such as poverty, conflict or hunger–transcend national and disciplinary boundaries and thus require these 21st-century skills.