Facing Human Wrongs:

Navigating paradoxes and complexities
of social and global change.

Facing Human Wrongs: Course Description

This online, interdisciplinary course engages with the ethical and practical complexities and paradoxes of mainstream approaches to global challenges. It does so by addressing four interrelated denials that enable the reproduction of an enduring colonial system: denial of colonial violence that underwrites the system; denial of ecological unsustainability; denial of interdependence; and denial of the magnitude of the many “wicked problems” that we face. Generally, if addressed at all, these denials are addressed one at a time, whereas our course brings them together, enabled by the interdisciplinary format. 

FHW also offers students an alternative to common approaches to problem-solving premised on seeking immediate solutions. Instead, it emphasizes the development of students’ intellectual, affective, and relational capacities for navigating multiple perspectives and VUCA (volatility, unpredictability, complexity and ambiguity) in an interrelated and unequal world. The course seeks to prepare students to address real-world problems in socially and ecologically accountable ways, without sacrificing nuance or minimizing complicity. This course focuses on expanding our collective capacity to hold space for difficult conversations about wicked challenges without feeling immobilized or demanding immediate quick fixes.

FHW content touches upon systemic, historical and ongoing violence, unsustainability, our complicities in social and ecological harm, and our tendency to address complex problems, such as biodiversity loss, food insecurity, economic and political crises, and the potential for social and environmental collapse, with simplistic solutions. The course requires students to be willing to be uncomfortable and to have their perspective challenged, even if they think of themselves as already “woke”. We advise participants who feel that in-depth analysis and discussion of these topics will likely be emotionally overwhelming  at the moment, or that they may negatively impact their mental health, not to take this course. The introductory unit was designed to help participants to make the decision of whether or not this course is for them.

FHW is organized around 6 (un)learning bundles (or units) and is generally taken in periods of 6 or 12 weeks, with each (un)learning bundle being completed every 1 or 2 weeks. Participants are expected to dedicate from 7 to 8 hours a week to their learning. All course materials are available online (recorded lectures, videos, documentaries, readings and quizzes, analytical and land- and arts- based exercises). Participants are encouraged to complete at least 75% of the content of each unlearning bundle. Participants can take the course individually, as self-study, or as part of a group with the assistance of trained facilitators. If you are taking this course as part of a group, you will have one scheduled tutorial per unit. UBC students are encouraged to take the course for credit at UBC.

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