Starting Off: Why Did I Create This Website?

David Palumbo-Liu's picture

Hello!  This is David Palumbo-Liu, the professor at Stanford who is teaching the Human Rights & Global Literature course here.  I'll start off my posting this link to a story about this course, which includes a video interview with me in which I explain the basic intent behind this course, and this web site.  Essentially, after all the publicity around online education, especially pointing to Stanford as a world leader in developing online learning, I decided to explore how this technology could be developed to fulfill one of online education's attested goals--the democratization of education. I experimented with a class in which I partnered with colleagues at Duke University (Cathy Davidson) and the University of California at Santa Barbara (Christopher Newfield).  That course was part of a series the Graduate School of Education runs called "Education's Digital Future."

In that course, my colleagues and I each conducted separate classes based on different syllabi, but all the courses shared the purpose of examining the history of higher education in the US and elsewhere, and then linked those histories to the present-day.  Common themes were the idea of community, vocation, funding, learning, democracy.  We had five Google Hang-Outs which are uploaded on YouTube.  As you can see, it was sometimes pretty clunky.  Nevertheless, we had some great shared discussions that fulfilled part of the main purpose of the course--to break down the barriers between institutions and people.

I then was fortunate to receive a grant from Stanford's Vice Provost of Online Learning to develop an online component for my Human Rights course.  Why did I want to do this?

I feel that learning about human rights will greatly benefit from having a rich and diverse set of materials that can be shared and curated by teachers and students.  I also feel that having participants from a wide range of national and global locations helps to see how human rights look different in different contexts.  I also feel that having a diversity of types of participants and ways of contributing to the website and interacting with other each is important. That is why we are calling it a "collaboratory."

Please explore the website, and feel free to email me or any of my co-instructors with comments or suggestions.  You are also encouraged to blog those comments, suggestions, so others can join in!