“Nothing happens in a silo.” Through the new Contemporary International Relations course, history teacher Mr. Jeremy Hart hopes to demonstrate this idea by examining various events in recent history. The class will study interactions between countries, states, and non-state actors. Students will focus on how these interactions have evolved since World War II.
While many people see major events as singular, Mr. Hart said that they are “a culmination of many other moments throughout history.”
For example, he explains that the Cuban Missile Crisis has intricacies that are often overlooked. “If you look at [the Cuban Missile Crisis] just as a moment you’re going to lose a lot of the interesting nuances of the people involved, of the event itself, and why the outcome was what it was,” Mr. Hart said. “You can miss what the outcome could have been, like nuclear war. You can kind of lose some of the storytelling.”
As students look at events, Mr. Hart hopes they understand that “often times there are tons of ways to view a situation, even in today’s world.”
“You can talk about how after 9/11, President Bush 43 went into the Middle East and Afghanistan,” Mr. Hart said. “You can look at that in a silo, but also understand that Bush 41 had Desert Storm. He had his own relations with Saddam. You can also look at how the CIA had some say on what happened in the Middle East and go even further back. You see how all those things just kind of layer on top of each other.”
Mr. Hart plans to integrate simulation into the course to allow students to gain an even deeper understanding. Introduced to the program when he was in college, Mr. Hart is excited to bring it to Haverford.
“It’s this program where everyone is sorted into countries,” said Mr. Hart. “It’s a turn-by-turn, week-by-week evolution of this world. As it develops, the world brings up interesting international relations points, like resources, geography, and trading. Through the computer ‘game,’ you can see how these issues might come up and relate them [to current events].”
Mr. Hart described the program as “one of the highlights of my college career,” and he hopes Sixth Formers will find it as engaging this spring.
The class also allows Mr. Hart to follow his own interests.
“My passion is looking at global events, keeping up with current events, and understanding that not everything happens in and of itself.”Mr. Jeremy Hart
“My passion is looking at global events, keeping up with current events, and understanding that not everything happens in and of itself,” Mr. Hart commented. “For modern world history and international relations — outside of what the U.S. does — there’s so much rich culture and so many characters in history that have all led up to how the dominoes have fallen.”
Overall, Mr. Hart would like students to see how events are connected and look closely at characters who “you miss if you look at the event from the Wikipedia point of view,” Mr. Hart said.
“I want students to be able to say: ‘Hey, this event that happened that’s breaking news on the news networks . . . the story that they are telling, there are fifteen other layers to it,” Mr. Hart said. “I hope the guys come out of the class with the ability to kind of see that and see the bigger picture and then make their judgments on it, which is fine. We’re all entitled to that, but making sure that it’s not just taking what someone else says at face value.”
After taking Contemporary International Relations, Mr. Hart said, Sixth Formers should be able to “think critically on some of the major events of our time as they go forward to college and beyond.”