College of DuPage program gives students taste of real world issues

Joy Davis is keenly aware of life beyond DuPage County.

The College of DuPage sophomore spoke to the COD Board of Trustees recently about her experience studying international relations.

“I’ve had a great experience,” she said.

Davis is part of the International Negotiated Module Project, a seven-year-old interdisciplinary program consisting of eight other classes from various fields of study.

Each class adopts a foreign country to study, the purpose being an examination of how countries negotiate differences and the management of resources.

Davis’ class focused on India and studied issues that came up between that country, Haiti and Mexico.

“The program is comparable to the Model United Nations,” Davis said.

While the classes might all be from different fields — journalism, economics and political science are typical disciplines — they negotiate with each other in real time, using online technology.

Not knowing with whom they are actually negotiating with lends authenticity to the process.

The issues that are negotiated can be anything that is of significance on the international stage. Terrorism, human trafficking, pharmaceutical issues and water management are some of the problems students grapple with.

“We would have shared diplomacy,” Davis said.

“It really gives students a chance to apply knowledge . . . we don’t just memorize facts and figures.”

Students work toward a final policy recommendation and are responsible for compiling a position paper at the end of the semester.

Davis was credited with being the driving force behind her class’ negotiations and the policy recommendations.

“She brought professionalism and maturity to the process,” political science professor David Goldberg said.

Goldberg stressed the value of applying technology to the diplomatic process.

“My students don’t know who is negotiating for Mexico,” he said.

Goldberg said a professor at Whittier College in California founded the program.

It is exclusively for community colleges and Goldberg noted with pleasure that the City Colleges of Chicago are in the program for the first year.

Harper College is also participating and the Collage of Lake County has in the past.

For Goldberg, the value to students is in opening their eyes to an international perspective.

“Resource issues, whether they be about water or pharmaceuticals, are issues that affect people globally and locally,” he said.

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