This survey course introduces students to important and basic material on human fertility, population growth, the demographic transition and population policy. Topics include: the human and environmental dimensions of population pressure, demographic history, economic and cultural causes of demographic change, environmental carrying capacity and sustainability. Political, religious and ethical issues surrounding fertility are also addressed. The lectures and readings attempt to balance theoretical and demographic analysis with studies of individuals and communities. The perspective is global with both developed and developing countries included.
Type of Material:
Online Course. Robert Wyman is Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at Yale. Educated at Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley, his research has been in neuro-genetics: how genes build the brain. He is teaching a course in global problems of population growth from his discipline's perspective. As an online course, there are video lectures, resources, and assignments for each class.
Homework, individual assignment, virtual guest lecture. Each class has a webpage, a video lecture, suggested assignments, and resources. Portions of specific lectures can be assigned as well as specific resources. Teams of students can watch the videos together and discuss questions assigned by the instructor.
Internet Explorer or applicable browser, Flash player or plugin for videos, iTunesU and/or YouTube optional for tablet users
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Students will be able to describe and interpret global problems of population growth and to evaluate and analyze human and environmental population dimensions, demographic history, economic and cultural influences of demographic changes, and environmental capacity and sustainability of population shifts and growth. Students will also be able to distinguish political, religious, and ethical issues surrounding fertility.
Target Student Population:
Due to the level of complexity of the course material and the way it is delivered, this should be used for college students and above.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
A basic Sociology course so the material is placed into the context of a biological, sociological, psychological, and socio-economic approach.
The lectures are comprehensive in the topics described. The lectures also have audio visuals built in to keep attention of the viewer.
The site offers a basic framework for study. The content is current as of 2009 and therefore more current information may be needed.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Each class is well formatted. There are assignments given and pertinent reading materials as supplements. The syllabus is clear and has learning objectives. These will have to be tailored to a particular course. It provides useful course media including video lectures with transcripts.
Since this is not a course in Sociology, the course objectives will have to be embedded into an existing course syllabus and assignments. The site does not function as a stand-alone learning tool. Instructors and students will need to use supplemental learning materials and/or other external resources to develop prerequisite knowledge and re-enforce content with real world applications, exercises, and assessments to measure learning.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The front page of the course clearly states the course overview. There is a horizontal bar at the top of the page with links to the syllabus, each class page, a course survey of learning, and where textbooks can be purchased. Each class page is organized in a similar fashion with the video in the center, resources and assignments in a right hand column, and options to view the video in high or low definition or audio only. The site is easy to use and accessible using multiple devices.
There are no interactive applications, exercises, and/or assessments to re-enforce learning.
Other Issues and Comments:
This open course may be used as a supplemental resource or teaching tool for special topics or courses on social problems, race and ethnicity, sex and gender, demography, and/or population and urbanization. The material needs to be supplemented with updates.
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