The Era of Controversy – Assessment Summary
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The unit revolves around the idea of ‘neoliberalism’ and it does this via loosely connecting it to three
interconnected crises: the crisis of environmental collapse (nature or reality); the crisis of global inequality
(social); and the crisis of the self (meaning). Together, these three aspects of neoliberal society speak directly to
our ability to answer the question of what constitutes ‘a good life’ and how such a life is shaped by the forces
of neoliberalism. The purpose of the unit is to produce a knowledge map that we all contribute to. Your specific role is to develop one aspect of this knowledge map around some aspect of the contemporary world that interests you
(or take up one of the core topics from Julie Wilson’s book Neoliberalism: education, work, care of others, care of the self, democracy) and link the knowledge therein back into the broader class project. Given that the scope of this unit focuses on how the whole of our social and natural reality is shaped by a neoliberal worldview, just about any aspect of life can be investigated in this unit. That is, you can investigate how neoliberalism shapes any ‘thing’ or ‘social process’ that appears in everyday life. It could be to do with: culture (e.g., the fashion system or even how we make the clothes we wear), theory (e.g., you may want to look at feminism or the political ideas of the Labor Party), an aspect of social life (e.g., the effect of social media on how we meet people), our psychology (e.g., the rate and cause of mental illness), politics and the state (e.g., you may want to examine some aspect of capitalism, like the creation of money), ad infinitum. As long as I approve it, you can do it … You will be assessed on all pieces as an individual, but I strongly recommend you work in a group or at least a pair. You may want to set up a broad area for a group and then each of you develops a different aspect within the overarching idea. 1. Journal: An active learning journal recording in-class and out-of-class learning (handed up at the end of week 2) Weight: 40% of Total Mark Due: Sunday Midnight of week 2 (you will need to bring parts of it to class as we move along) Task: The Journal will consist of three components: 1) You will need to complete the ‘pre/post-class’ activities each week and journal any ideas you have. See over the page for the activities (200-400 words) 2) Journal of ideas including in-class ideas and work ideas/work and work performed in developing thoughts for assessment (take notes as you research and do any class activities) 3) Your reading log (evidence/notes of reading at least 3 chapters of Wilson’s book Neoliberalism) 2. Project: Individual written work drawing on central themes of the unit in the development of a concept map Weight: 40% of Total Mark Due: Sunday Midnight Week Three Task: The project will consist of you (or a small group) developing a concept map (this is not an extended piece of writing but it may include writing on the map) that draws on the unit themes that stem from Julie Wilson’s book Neoliberalism. You will need to document and justify your mapping and include references. See the rubric for assessment criteria. 3. Presentation: Critical responses to neoliberalism Weight: 20% of Total Mark Due: Presented in sessions 10 and 11 (10 minutes) Task: You need outline a response to an aspect of neoliberalism (if appropriate you may choose the same area as the project but you must consult with me first). The presentation needs to be 5-10 minutes and it can be presented in a number of forms (poster, slide show, case study, plan or proposal … anything). In the presentation you will showcase how some people, group, nation or even you have or could respond to the forces of neoliberalism. The purpose is to showcase the things that people do or could do in the face of challenges in the world today thrown up by neoliberalism.
You need to do these pre/post class exercises and identify how they relate to the three crises of neoliberalism.
WEEK 1 Consumption How do we see these crises that we talked about in today’s session presenting in our lives? When you get home catalogue the possessions that you use most in your home. In your journal critically reflect on these possessions. Here are some questions that may help you on your way: What do these possessions say about
what you value and how you live? • What do these possessions say about what you value and how you live? • Ask your parents or grandparents about the kinds of things that they had when they were growing up? Can you see any differences? • What do these differences mean for how much you consume and the amount of natural resources you
use? Part 2 Pick two items in your house and document some features of each product in your journal. The first item
should be a bit of food from the cupboard or the fridge and the second a non-perishable item like an electronic device or some clothing. What is involved in getting this product to you? Where did it come from? How was it made? Who made it and under what conditions? WEEK 2 Company Search In your journal document the reach of some of the biggest companies and the brands or subsidiaries that they own. Pick 2 or 3 of the companies below and search the web to see if you can identify what brands they own. Disney – Pearson (Penguin Books) – Amazon – Sony – Time Warner – Coke-a-Cola (even just Australian brands) – PepsiCo – Unilever – Mars – Nestle – Mondelez – General Mills
Brand Search Walk through your home looking for brands. How many can you find? Do they provide any function? Why are they there? Don’t forget your wardrobe. Schools (pre-class activity for session 7) In the ch. 3 of Wilson’s book Neoliberalism she uses education as a case study, in this activity, you need to reflect on your own education using the lens provided by this unit. To do: 1. What kinds of factors does Wilson recognise as shaping our neoliberal educational experience? 2. Wilson talks about schools and neoliberalism but her examples come from America. Can you make connections with the Australian experience? 3. Do schools represent your interests? What evidence do you have for this view? If not whose interest do they represent?
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