All aspects of the curriculum and all seminars in TBB programs for gap year students are driven by the following Essential Question:
How can I be a proactive agent of change?
Throughout TBB programs, students engage a set of Guiding Questions critical to understanding their relationship to the Essential Question. The following questions are interwoven into daily seminars:
- What is “development?”
- Who am I?
- Is everyone in the world interconnected?
- What do we assume about others and ourselves?
- Who is responsible to develop whom?
TBB seminars challenge students to explore their daily experiences and place them in the context of international development. Seminars take various forms, including lectures and discussions with local experts, presentations, and debates. Students complete readings that address the curricular themes and the current context of the programs.
1. Development Theory and Practice
What is “development?” Students explore the economics, politics, and social structures of development. Students examine a range of models and examples of practice. A deep questioning of the assumptions underlying the theory creates a foundation of understanding upon which students will build throughout the program.
2. Natural Resources & the Environment
What does it mean to be “environmentally responsible?” Students examine the human systems of production and consumption holistically. They examine their personal impact, cultural assumptions that lead to destructive acts, and technological possibilities for sustainability.
3. Education & Economic Growth
How can education empower people as proactive agents of change? Students engage a broad range of issues related to the purpose, economic potential, and oppressive potential of education.
4. Sustainable Agriculture
What does food mean to society? Students investigate the culture, economics, and technology of agriculture. They determine why some models fail while others offer sustainable means of feeding the world’s population.
5. HIV/AIDS and Public Health
Why are so many nations failing to effectively address HIV/AIDS and protect public health? Students study policy successes and failures, the economic and political roots of health crises, and the present challenges of distributing technology to those most in need. (Ecuador Gap Semester focuses on public health without the HIV/AIDS focus.)
6. Social Change
How can I affect change? Students analyze models of change, tools for organizing, and their personal strengths to determine how best to impact the world.
7. Presentations of Learning
How can I be a proactive agent of change? Students prepare formal presentations that reflect their learning during the programs. Presentations articulate an understanding of issues of international development and personal growth. Students share these presentations with educational and community groups around the US.