I signed up for Human Geography because it qualifies as a “Diverse Populations” course, which is required of me to graduate. I anticipated memorizing locations and capitols of various countries. I assumed most of the work, aside from the Chicago trip, would be taught from text books and maps. I don’t usually like to admit that I’m wrong, so I’ll just say I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the approach Dr. Sherer has taken in teaching this course. This class is not at all about memorizing places on a map, but about hands-on learning and discussion in order to make associations with various locations of the world. So far, this class has been largely about current events and politics surrounding several different areas of the world. This class focuses more on the “human” than on the “geography.” To further emphasize some specific topics, Dr. Sherer invited Coach Morris and Dr. Pillay to speak to our class. Coach Morris spoke about several topics, but chiefly about the rivalry between the Celtics (primarily Catholic soccer team) and the Rangers (primarily Protestant soccer team). Coach Morris explained how there has been an ongoing battle between these two groups for years, and while Celtic fans/Catholics and Ranger fans/Protestants may work side by side throughout the week, they are enemies during soccer games. The foolishness of this rivalry amazed me. How could a group of people work together all week, only to shout obscenities at one another on the weekends? Furthermore, Coach Morris told us this feud has nothing to do with religion, which shocked me because I had always assumed this rivalry to be religiously based since it is between Catholics and Protestants. If these two groups aren’t even arguing about religion, then what is it that causes them to hate each other? This exemplifies the notion that hate of this kind is learned. It is passed down through generations until there is no longer a reason for the bad feelings harbored by one group for another; it becomes just an attitude that is held for no rational reason. Dr. Pillay discussed the current and future state of Africa. Although I feel he displayed a bit too much optimism by saying Africa has a “bright” future, Dr. Pillay did make a valid point that Africa’s countries have only been independent for about thirty years, and have had very little time to develop a strong political body when compared to the hundreds of years had by other countries. Dr. Pillay discussed the raw truths of human nature. He spoke about the fact that the United Nations immediately sent troops to Bosnia at the first indication of a genocide, but they stood idly by during the genocide in Rwanda, and are now doing the same thing regarding the genocide in Darfur. The reason for the United Nations’ inaction is to blame on humans’ selfishness and greed. Bosnia is located in Europe, so other countries quickly helped end the genocide because their success depended upon the success of European nations. However, these same countries that helped end the genocide in Bosnia chose not to take action to end genocide in Africa because, economically, Africa has nothing to offer. The United Nations is not concerned with ending the genocide because they have nothing to gain from the rescue of the African people. Dr. Pillay spoke of pharmaceutical companies as another group of people being driven by greed. He said Africa has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS, but, until recently, medications to fight these diseases were not available in Africa because they cost too much money. Dr. Pillay told us that pharmaceutical companies spent more money funding the development of Viagra than they did for finding treatments for HIV/AIDS because more money could be made from the sale of Viagra. I was appalled that so many people could be propelled by dollar signs, rather than by the well-being of other people. Themes of “globalization” and a “flattening of the world” have surfaced several times in this class. These are terms that explain how the world is becoming more connected through faster communication as a result of the development of technology. In today’s technological world, we are able to communicate much more with one another, but it seems as though we are doing it less and less. Instead of a sense of “connectedness” implied by the theory of globalization, there appears to be a “disconnectedness” of people around the world. Sure, we are able to send and receive information across the world, but we don’t actually communicate with these people. It seems as though today’s society is driven by selfishness and greed and a desire to succeed at all costs, rather than a love for others and a desire to do what is morally right. It’s time this world started using the tools at hand to really learn about the needs of others and to act according to what is best for the world at large, instead of what is best for the individual.
Posted at 12:50 AM by Katie Harris