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Global Challenges in Jordan

A Case Study

The course examines issues from social science and global problem-solving perspectives with particular attention to how culture and place affect human experience. In the course, Jordan provides a case study for how each challenge affects a particular national context. For example, how the refugee crisis in the global community affects Jordan specifically, with particular attention to how it relates to resource management. At the end of the course, students learn how addressing any global challenge requires mobilization of a multidisciplinary team in a strategic coalition.  Learning outcomes of the module include:

Outcome 1:  Students will be able to explain how a particular global challenge affects Jordan and its population.

Outcome 2:  Students will develop and present potential multidisciplinary interventions to address global issues in the Jordanian context.

Key words: Global Challenges, Jordan, Case Study, Strategic Coalition


The modules were constructed as part of an existing course, Global Challenges. In the course, students explore the seven major challenges affecting the world's people including:

  1. Population
  2. Resource management
  3. Economic integration
  4. Information
  5. Technology
  6. Conflict/Security
  7. Governance with an emphasis on their relation to global citizenship and human rights

Students engage in discussions, forums, a global village activity, and an action project. The global village activity includes assignment of a different “global villager” to each student. The student then blogs about how the global challenges affect that villager over the course of the class.

There are no prerequisites for the course. Students do not need any preexisting skills to complete the module; they rather are expected to develop new skills. 


Updated Mar 02, 2017

Content/Concepts Goals

Students will:

  • Understand how each the global challenges affects the Jordanian context specifically
  • Articulate how the Jordanian context differs in its experience of the global challenges as compared the United States and the context of their global villager
  • Know the concept of a strategic coalition and how it applies to resolving global challenges in the Jordanian context

Higher Order Thinking Skills

  • Application of key components of critical thinking as learned in the introduction section of the course
  • Application of the Universal Intellectual Standards
  • Reflection on the ethical implications of global challenge resolutions for all key stakeholders in the process

Multidisciplinary Analysis 

Students will:

  • Apply the expertise from their personal areas of study (e.g. economics, biology, social work) to developing solutions to global challenges
  • Understand the need for multidisciplinary intervention to address complex global challenges and use that knowledge to assess who needs to be involved in strategic coalitions to solve global problems
  • Integrate ethical considerations from their multidisciplinary perspective as part of the above efforts

Other Skills 

Students are expected to apply critical thinking to understand how context affects the experience of the seven major challenges facing the global community and to use that information to develop multidisciplinary solutions to those challenges.


Updated Mar 02, 2017

How to Create a Futures Wheel

Step 1

Write a global trend, event, or issue in the center circle. Use the following questions to prompt brainstorming of the first-order implications or consequences. What is likely to happen first if this trend or event continues?  What will be some of the immediate consequences if this trend or event continues? Record the first-order implications, circle them, and connect them to the center circle.

Step 2

Select one first-order implication from the first round of brainstorming. Brainstorm its second order implications. (What is likely to happen first if this happens?) Record the responses, circle them, and connect each to the first-order implication.

Select another first-order implication and brainstorm its second -order implications. (What will be some of the immediate consequences of [fill in the blank with the first-order implication])? Record the responses, circle them, and connect each to the first-order implication. continue the process until second order implications have been brainstormed for each of the first-order implications.

Step 3

Repeat the procedure to get third order implications, and possibly fourth-order implications.

Dissemination Strategies

See Course Instructions in Resources & Materials

Teaching Notes

It is important to encourage students to use their relevant disciplinary expertise in addressing issues during class discussions. I also emphasize throughout the course how we are each limited and biased by our relevant areas of expertise, and how the usefulness of interdisciplinary learning offset these biases. I use the personal example of being part of a profession (social work) with social justice as a core value making me less likely to emphasize the economic toll and considerations of particular interventions. 

In addition to leveraging the interdisciplinary background of students, I wanted to include interdisciplinary instructors or guest speakers. However, during interim on our campus, time and faculty are in short supply as we all teach more hours than typical and many are abroad. To compensate, I had a TA for the course who was a Religion major from Israel. She presented on the Israeli Palestinian conflict and also incorporated her humanities perspective to the rest of the course content and class discussions.

Resources and Materials

Global Challenges in Jordan Course Instructions & Materials

Global Challenges in Jordan PowerPoint

Outcomes and Significance

Students are required to study Jordanian issues for their exams to master the relevant knowledge base. They then apply the use of multidisciplinary strategic coalitions for an essay question on the final exam. Examples of relevant exam questions follow:

  1. Draw a futures wheel with two major branches (two first order implications, one to two second order implications for each of these and one to two third order implications for each of those) indicating the consequences of either continuing with or stopping the Red Sea Dead Sea project (choose whether to stop the project and then place that decision in the middle of your wheel). (2 points)
  2. Describe two major concerns related to the refugee issue in Jordan, one of which addresses how the refugee issue is related to resources. (2 points)
  3. Jordan has had economic challenges due to regional conflict affecting rates of tourism. (T or F)
  4. Explain what a strategic coalition is and then describe how you might use one to address a global challenge of your choosing as it affects Jordan.  Be sure and explain who would be in the coalition and what they would hope to achieve. (2pts)
Lead Partner
Susan Smalling
Associate Professor, Director, St. Olaf College
Social Work, Field Education
ACM Program Funding
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