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Fresno State Talks – Martin Shapiro: Elephants, Glowing Mice, and Flying Robots


[ Music ] [ Applause ]>>Dr. Martin Shapiro: Thank you for coming
tonight. I really appreciate it. It’s a nice big crowd. I want to thank Caitlin and Anthony
for nominating me. It was just so nice to be nominated, to be recognized. I mean, we
as teachers we come here, we do our best and then we get recognized in this way occasionally,
it’s just, it’s great feeling. I’m going to talk to you about some work that I’ve been
doing over the past 8 years on bringing big global issues into the classroom. I’m a neuroscientist.
I study small things. My Ph.D. was in insects of all things. I like small things, but I
got an opportunity a few years ago to be involved in getting curriculum about really big issues
into the classroom and I got the chance to go to Washington, D.C. a couple times a year
to meet with other professors that are interested in trying to get big global issues into our
classrooms and what’s nice about this, is I have my specialty and the people on this
committee have their specialty and we were able to come together and share content and
share resources and share assignments. This is the group and we have a drama teacher,
we have anthropologists and we have biologists and psychologists and it was great group of
people and we’ve written books and we’ve created online courses and we run workshops to try
to get these big global issues into the curriculum. I’m going to talk a little bit about that
work tonight. This group is part of the AASCU, American Association of State Colleges and
University; Fresno is part of that group and they brought us together in Washington with
just this sort of broad goal of making more globally competent citizens, that’s how it
started and we collaborated with a think tank in Washington, D.C. called The Center For
Strategic and International Studies and these were the experts who write books and they
consult with heads of states. And they were nice enough to have us meet with some of their
experts and talk about these big global trends and the way that we think about it is really
along three lines when we try to introduce global trends. The first one is related to
the issue of globalization. The idea that we are a connected world, we’re a connected
world like we’ve never been through fiber optics, through economy and trade, through
conflict and migration, so that’s sort a cornerstone the notion of globalization. But it’s also
about how things change and how fast things change. The world doesn’t work so well when
things change rapidly. So we talk CSIS works about what are revolutionary changes happening
in the world? What do we do when computers get extremely fast and things get small and
we suddenly everybody has a cell phone? So globalization, revolutionary change and the
final thing is something new to me but I find extremely interesting and that’s the notion
of the future. How do you teach a class about the future? So when we talk about the future,
well there’s a number of ways of doing it and we want our students to think about the
future in a number of ways and one of those is the idea of the possible future, utopic,
dystopic future, anything is possible but then we want to sort of couch it in reality
what’s the probable future? What do statistics tell us and what do the experts tell us about
the future? And finally, and most important, what’s your preferable future? How do you
want to live in 20 years or 30 years? What do you want the planet to be like in the deep
future? So we take this idea of globalization, we take this idea of change and we take this
idea of the future and we put it through the lens of seven, what we call, global challenges
and these are interconnected force that are changing the world. I’m going to talk a little
bit about each one tonight, not everyone, but most of them. So it’s population and resources
and technology and information, economics, conflict and governance. How are these interrelated?
Try to get deeper in the understanding of these interdisciplinary topics. So I’m going
to go through each one of them, talk about the future, talk about their interrelatedness
and I’m going to start with population, what’s happening in population. When we talk about
population, we often times you say, “Well what’s going on with population?” We’re overpopulating
the world. That’s the problem and it’s all about numbers, it’s all about crowds, there’s
too many people and we see images like this and we see images like this or we see a train
in India and we go look at all those people. But it’s considerably more complex than just
that. I mean, certainly we have grown, our population has grown. You know, before 1800
we had less than a billion people on this planet then in about 1926 we get up to 2 billion
and then things start really rolling along. Another billion, another billion, another
billion and we sit here right now at about 7 and a quarter billion people on the planet
and its projected into the future to get up between 9 and 11 billion by 2050. But it’s
not going to continue to grow, there’s a lot of things going on here. So let’s unwind this
a little bit. Let’s look at population. What about fertility rates? What about how many
children women are having and families are having? You know, a replacement rate the idea
is 2.1 kids on average per woman that’s sort of a replacement rate, but fertility, in and
of itself has gone through revolutionary changes. If we look at that countries, now I want you
to look at these countries thinking that oranges and reds are real high fertility and the blues
and the greens are low fertility and they begin to change pretty dramatically. First
Europe and the United States fertilities drop, but the rest of the world is following in
suit and many countries we don’t have too many people, we don’t have enough. There’s
not enough children. Japan has a fertility rate of 1.3. Saipan is really low. Europe,
Russia, Iceland very low. So you can see these kinds of changes. I’m going to take a couple
of examples that are really extreme. Let’s take China and India and Thailand and Bangladesh.
They had fertility rates 4, 5, 6, 7 kids back in the 1970s. These are really high. This
perpetuates poverty. This perpetuates problems with the ecosystem, but look how they’ve changed
in that short amount of time. Okay. So, you know China enacted a 1 child policy which
they have backed off on recently. Bangladesh you see a tremendous reduction of poverty
empowering women. People don’t what to have 7 children mostly. Thailand, they started
enacting programs to really look after the health of the children, the health of women
and promoting different types of contraception and look at the change. What comes with that,
what comes with this radical change is just number of kids, is usually very quick, prosperous
growth economically; population economics are highly tied. This is one of my favorite
websites to go to. This is Gapminder. I love Gapminder. You go there and you can just punch
in some statistics and if you look at Gapminder here, you have number of women over here,
a number of children per woman here and income along this axis and these each represent a
different country and you can see back in the 1920s lots of high fertility around the
world, but then as we change, as it progresses, you can see things shift. You can see Europe
and America coming down. China kind of goes through a real fluctuation, but here we are
in the 1970s and China opens up trade now it’s starting to get a lot of money coming
in and poverty is one of the things that contributes to high-levels of fertility. But as fertility
comes down, economics goes up, wealth goes up, absolute poverty goes down. Parts of Africa,
you can’t just look at Africa as one giant continent, some countries are doing very well
in Africa in terms of their fertility rate in dropping and some are lagging behind just
a little bit, but the idea is that they’re going to be going in this direction. What
about aging? There’s a revolutionary change. We’re an aging world. Okay, in the United
States by 2030 we’re going to have twice as many people over 65; I’m going to be one of
them. In Italy, in Germany, Japan by 2040 a third of them are going to be retirees.
In China we’re going to have 100 million people over the age of 80; 80 years old. So how does
that change the dynamics of the family, family structure of the economics? I love these kinds
of graphs that were created by Planet Money to look at this. If you look down here you’re
having the age groups, if you look over here you’re having the percentage. Look at Japan.
Look at that shift in Japan’s aging. They’re not having as many children and people are
living longer; living longer is kind of a wonderful thing but that really changes the
dynamic of that country. The United States is going through something pretty similar
just not to the same degree. We are getting older as a society. The median age is getting
older. Other countries like Nigeria, well they’re not following suit, well not yet anyway.
Still high fertility rates and still kind of people aren’t living as long, but they’re
thought to go in that direction. This chart just looks at the whole world and you can
see the whole world, oops I’m a little behind, they’re whole world is aging. Well what does
an aging population of the world do? What are the issues related? One, get to be around
old people a lot. I like that. But you also have increased costs, medical costs we have
to look forward in the future and think about the needs of the people as we get older. Older
people like me take more care. What about the relationship between the workers and the
retirees? The way it’s been setup is the retirees are given money that the people in workforce
make and then when they retire they get that social security, but we’ve changed that dynamic
and we’re changing it considerably more. Let’s look at that ratio, just the ratio of people
working to people retiring and if you look at the U.S. back in the 1950s, we had 7 workers
for every 1 retiree, much higher in India and Brazil and China. It’s a good safety net
there. But about in 2016? How much has that changed? It’s change pretty dramatically.
So now we have 4 workers for every retiree and look what’s happened in these other countries,
this tremendous drop. But we’re not stopping there and this is where we project into the
future. What’s going to happen when there are 2 workers for every retiree? How is that
structure going to work economically? These are the things that tend to keep people up
late at night at CSIS, right? So we also have the issue of just overpopulating, we’ve been
talking about this forever. You know, Thomas Malthus back in the 1700-1800s, he said you
know we’re growing geometrically but our food isn’t and we’re going to have starvation,
we’re going to have war and that’s what’s coming and it didn’t really happen that way.
They’d look at things in sort of this broad stroke; too many people, the population bomb.
You see images of the world not handling total number of people but it’s so much more complex
than that. What about the resources that we use? What about our individual footprints
on this planet? It’s very different depending on where you live on the planet. There might
be more people but it’s how we use these resources that go into the nature of the sustainable
planet. Where do we live? What kind of food do we eat? What kind of space do we need?
What waste do we produce? That’s very different across the planet. It has to be taken into
consideration when thinking about population, so it brings us to another global challenge
and that’s resources. So when we talk about resources, let’s look at energy resources,
let’s just look at different populations, we’re connecting the two. We use very different
energy, okay? If you’re in Norway you’re using a lot more energy per person than if you lived
in Ethiopia and that energy is going to produce a lot of these greenhouse gases like CO2.
So we have different footprints, it’s not just numbers of people and the Unites States
actually isn’t the most CO2 emitter, we get the kind of the bad wrap. China actually as
a country produces more CO2 but individually as per person, much less than the United States,
so these are things to think about when relating population to resources. What does that do?
How is that affecting our planet? Well, we get into things like climate change and drought
and weather patterns changing, we know our climate is changing because of these reasons.
There is good new if you live in California, we are only the third highest emitter of CO2.
We’re one of the lowest in the whole country. We’re working really hard to get there and
to work with other countries on renewable energy sources. California is trying very
hard. What about the food you eat? If you eat meat, that’s very much more intensive
on the country, on the resources of water. I love this book that came out. They did a
series, they just simply asked people around the world what do you eat in a week? What’s
your food? It’s going to tell us a lot about our footprint on the planet. So if we look
at the U.S., we have a lot of processed food and a lot of pizza. I love pizza. I’m not
saying pizza is bad and we can look at other countries like Germany. It looks like they’re
drinking a little bit more beer. Mexico and we begin to see changes. We begin to see changes
in the diet. Not so water intensive. Not so methane intensive and so you might have somebody
who lives in Chad for example, that might have a very high fertility rate but the things
that they’re eating aren’t nearly as harsh on the environment. Again, trying to connect
resources, population and not looking at it as sort of a just numbers. What about the
food we eat? Well, as we get more money as a world we’re becoming more affluent, we want
more meat; meat tastes good and so you look at places that had not a meat diet or a heavy
meat diet a while ago, are starting to want more meat. Meat is very water intensive. Meat
is very methane intensive. We see this in India. It’s even shown up in Africa. Okay,
that slide was rude, but still it’s making a point about the changing diet in the world.
And what is our diet do? How does our diet affect the places and the people we live around
and the animals that we live around? I mean, we’re experiencing a tremendous change in
biodiversity on this planet. Biodiversity is just the number of plants and animals and
the variety in a location and places like Borneo have tremendous biodiversity, wonderful,
wonderful lush rain forests but like every other rain forest on our planet, it’s competing
with us and our needs and our changing diets and so the orangutan in Borneo is having a
very difficult time. Why? Because we’re going into the places they live and we’re cutting
down their forest so that we can make things like palm oil, because palm oil goes into
everything and it goes into the food that we eat and the food we want and the food that
the rest of the world is starting to want too, these are all high in palm oil. So what
we do and how we act, you see the same thing in Madagascar, the clearcutting of their rain
forests with great biodiversity. These changes in people affect it. Well, I was going to
talk about elephants. I put elephants in the title of my talk, so I’m going to talk about
elephants. Elephants are just these wonderful, wonderful large animals that live in Africa.
These are known as mega gardeners. The health of the ecosystem of Africa is really dependent
or parts of Africa are dependent upon that health of elephants. They’re connected to
the ecosystem, but we’ve seen this tremendous change you know in three years between 2009
and 2012, 100,000 elephants were killed; 100,000. We lost 64% of the elephants and this is due
to trade. This is due to ivory, illegal ivory trade. Why? There’s a lot of reasons, but
one is we get an increase affluence in places like China, the middle class increases, they
want more ivory and we have these kinds of problems. The United States actually is very
high on the list of illegal imported ivory, so we’re connected in those ways. So, I was
reading this article in slate.com, caught my attention and it’s looking at the interrelatedness
between something like elephant herds and people and the population that lives with
them. And there’s a direct correlation or strong correlation to elephants being killed
and bad governance or corrupt governance, but also to poverty. You want a great correlation
here, look at poverty levels and infant mortality rates here of people that live near elephants
and the number of, percentage of illegally killed elephants, that’s the PIKE. So the
health of the elephants tells us a lot about the population and the population will tell
us a lot about that ecosystem and this is just one of many examples and it takes intergovernmental
cooperation. In 2015, China and the United States worked together to try to curb this
tremendous illegal trade and the killing of these elephants, so the governance getting
involved and the need.>>There’s been a significant increase in
poaching. We estimate that we’ve had to spend an additional 2 million dollars to be able
to protect the rhino that we have. A single rhino horn will be about 4 kilos and rhino
horn will go to an end user for about 60,000 dollars a kilo. So we’re talking close to
a quarter of a million dollars for a single rhino horn. In December 2013, we had our first
trial drone come out with Airway. We’ve called it the Aerial Ranger. We had about 10 days
of testing together in collaboration with the Kenya Wildlife Service. We sent it out
with our thermal imaging camera and, you know, you could immediately see these wonderful
shapes of the elephant going up to the water trough to drink. You know, you could see the
heat signature down their trunks. We on our system, can simply point at an elephant and
tell the unmanned aerial vehicle to circle around the animal that it’s identified and
all of those autopilot systems will keep the drone in place, circling keeping the camera
in a gimbal on that animal or the wildlife that’s been identified. A drone can play.>>Dr. Martin Shapiro: So, if we just think
about elephants we’re looking at population and governments and technology and that brings
us to another global challenge. One of my favorite ones to talk about and when I ask
students what they’re optimistic about the future, it’s usually about technology. Great
thing about technology is we can go back in time and we can think about how we thought
about technology. This is the computer, home computer 1954 what they projected a home computer
would be like in the year 2004; this is their projection. It’s pretty close. You know, it’s
got a mouse it really does, it’s got a mouse and it’s got a screen and it’s got a printer;
this how they thought about technology in the future. How wrong are we when we project
in the future, wonderfully so, hopefully? But when we talk about technology we can talk
about computing and computers and for example, we might look at super computers and how they’ve
changed and how dramatically they’ve changed in terms of the speed. This computer here
is 33.86 petaflops that’s 10 to the 15 operations per second. I have no idea how big that number
is. I can’t think of it, but we start to be able to program and analyze climate change
and protein structures and things we could never do before. What about things getting
smaller, not only faster, but smaller? And we get into the notion of nanotechnology.
This is working at things at the atomic level or this really small, small level. We get
fabrics and we get machinery and all these kinds of things. What happens when we think
about the future? Do we possibly have robots that work at the cellular level? These are
what people are trying to develop now or robots that go into our intestine or machines that
are working and are the size of the width of a hair. These are all things that are being
developed and it’s a great way to project into the future and think what might come.
How about robots? Love robots. That’s Big Dog right there. It’s a military robot. Here’s
one of my favorite robots right here. This is Atlas. [ Footstep Sounds ] Do you find yourself now feeling sorry for
a robot? It’s kind of interesting how we automatically connect. Just let him pick it up already. [ Background Sounds ] But look at that balance. Look at this robot
and what’s able to do and look at that human, how evil that human is. You want to see something
evil; you want us to feel bad about a robot. Yeah, right? You know, there’s actually petitions
online to stop doing this to robots. This is like a washing machine with legs and you’re
feeling bad for it but it can get up. What about robots and how they’re changing the
way we’re fighting? Oh, nope not that. Well, let’s talk about robosourcing. This is interesting.
You’ve heard of outsourcing, right? This is outsourcing jobs to other countries. That’s
not where the future is, the future is outsourcing it to robots. You know, I found this website
where you could go and you could put in the job you have and find out if a robot is going
to take it over soon, so I went in and I punched in teacher there, I’m curious at how long
I still have a job and fortunately, being a professor only has a 3% chance of being
taken over by a robot. That is great news, though I have seen a number of professors
that might do well with a robot. Okay, now about combat. This has changed radically the
way we fight wars and the fact that we are controlling these aerial vehicles in Nevada
that are fighting in Afghanistan and this has changed. In 2003, we didn’t have any of
these things in the sky but now this is how we’re fighting our wars. Look at these numbers
change about the number of people that have been killed by drones. At the height of the
war here, you see these really high numbers and a lot of people are talking about the
fact that maybe in the future these drones aren’t going to be fighting wars, it’s going
to tiny robots fighting wars or espionage. And then we get into what are called micro
air vehicles. This is nanotechnology is kind of getting involved. These are robots that
are the size of insects and they have cameras on them sometimes and they move great distances
and we have problems with pollinators now with honey bees. What if we could make a bee
out of a robot? That’s what we’re working on now, to pollinate the almonds with a bunch
of robots. This is a micro bee and they’re trying to; they’ve already created it, now
they’re just trying to get it so that it can fly great distances and things like that.
This one of my favorite things to talk about, genomics. How much, this is things, this has
changed more than anything. The way we’re testing DNA, sequencing DNA and cutting and
splicing. We’re taking DNA out of one organism and we’re sticking it into another and we’re
doing this faster and we’re doing this cheaper and we’re doing this with greater accuracy
and this kind of technology is amazing. So I wanted to get involved with this. I want
my kids to be involved with this so I had them spit in a little container, I said we’re
doing a project here today. We’re going to spit in a container, I’m going to send it
off and we’re going to get our DNA analyzed. Now we’re getting into information. Now if
I wanted my DNA sequence 20 years ago, it’s a 100,000 dollars. This time it was 80 dollars
and some postage and I can go to the website. This is the website. I’m going to show you
my DNA. One thing I found out is that I am, well for the lack of a better word, pretty
inbred. I’m 99% European, 96% Ashkenazi; Ashkenazi Jew. That’s interesting. Ashkenazi Jews have
genetic issues and I’m curious about my relationship to that. This is that kind of information.
But I also found out some other things that are kind of interesting. For one, I’m in the
90th percentile for Neanderthal. Okay, so I’m just letting you know about that. I can
find out about disease I’m more prevalent to, drugs that would work better for me. My
favorite things is I get an email every couple of weeks about a fourth cousin that they found
that I’m related to and we can do a map of where these cousins live and I hate to stereotype,
but we live in New York and we retire in Florida and maybe go out to the east coast but only
in L.A. where they have good bagels. I don’t know it seems weird, but that was kind of,
that’s kind of fun to do but that’s information, it’s information I’m happy to share with you
but what if other people had hold of some of the more details of my DNA? What about
splicing and genetic engineering? You know in 1995, the food you ate, you know, it wasn’t
genetically engineered. Now almost everything is. We’re taking the DNA from one organism,
an animal or a plant or something synthesized and we’re putting it into another animal.
One of my favorite examples is where you take the DNA out of a jellyfish or a coral or a
bacteria that makes that organism glow in the dark; bioluminescence. We take that DNA
and put it in another animal, DNA is DNA and they code for the proteins and now we have
glow in the dark mice, but that’s not all. We have several other animals. We have glow
in the dark rabbits and glow in the dark cats. Who wouldn’t want a glow in the dark cat?
Who here would want a glow in the dark cat? I’d love a glow in the dark cat. There’s a
monkey. You can buy a glow in the dark animal by the way. This is a genetically modified
fish and when you shut off your light you have a nightlight next to you swimming around,
it glows in the dark and this is all really fascinating but it’s also really helped us
to do research on HIV and this one is glow in the dark tumors where you add these proteins
to identify tumors in cancer research. One of my favorite example is this transgenic
mouse called Brainbow where the cells of the brain are coated from 90 different colors
using this technique and we can now trace how these neurons are connected to each other.
This really fascinates me. And we’re getting into a new field, it’s not genomics it’s called
connectomics; how the brain connects. This is the hippocampus of Brainbow. This is where
memories are transferred and going from short-term to long-term memory. It’s enabling us to understand
the brain in ways we never could before. We take that technique and we take another technique
with we use with humans using MRIs and we trace how the cells of our brain are connected.
The 82 billion neurons connecting and what do we do with that? Well, we’re starting to
think about back engineering the brain, deciphering the codes of the brain and this isn’t just
wishful thinking, we have programs all over the world working on this; DARPA is trying
to create computers that simulate brain activity, again, back engineering the brain. The Human
Brain Project in Europe brings together thousands of researchers and they map and they sequence
and they simulate, again, back engineering the brain by using these kinds of techniques.
It’s a brave new world, you know. We’re also connecting the brain to computers; brain computer
interface. Your cell activity of your brain can talk to a computer now in many ways and
if you take for example this company called Brain Gate and you have somebody who doesn’t
have the use of their arms or their legs, they implant a chip, an electronic chip into
the brain and she learns through trial and error, to move a robot. The activity in the
brain goes to the computer, the computer analyzes it, goes to the robot and she’s moving that
with nothing more than her mind. Again, this is what we’re doing now. Can you imagine what
we’re doing in the future when we get smaller and faster and cheaper? It still amazes me.
So we got to ask the question, since we’re mapping the brain and simulating the brain
and connecting the brain to electronics, what would you change when you get the opportunity?
What would you change when your brain maybe starts having problems? We already change
things. We’re already mechanical in so many ways. We change our knees. We change our hips.
What about a heart? Would you change your heart if it was going bad for a mechanical
heart, save your life? What about your eyes? What if you’re going blind? We have chips,
electronic chips that fit in the back of the eye and act like the retina. They’re not perfect
but they’re getting there and they get; people who are blind now are using these chips to
see. Things are getting faster and smaller and cheaper and then we can really think out
30 years out into the future; what happens when my cell phone is the size of a grain
of sand? What happens when things get that small and they start taking over the role
of our cells in our brain maybe and helping our memory, maybe the future will be not these
killer robots but us sort of fusing into these technologies. Well we’re already fused to
the technologies aren’t we? Okay, walk across the campus and people are using these for
communication. They’re outsourcing their memory onto this computer, just happens to be in
their hand and that brings us to another topic, another global challenge and that’s information.
And again, with information it’s fun to look in the past. Here’s a postcard from 1910 where
people thought about what classrooms would be like today. That’s pretty close. I’m in
the tablet initiative and that’s pretty close [ Laughter ] What about phones? How did they think phones
would be in the future? That’s pretty close too. Other than the hat, that’s the kind of
phones we have today. And what about this? Wow! Can you imagine that being able to take
a camera anywhere you go? This is amazing stuff. Think about how far we’ve come. So
I’m going to take an example. I’m going to take fiber optics and phones as just one example
of a revolutionary change about what we do with our phones and how we use our phones
and how they’ve changed so many people in good and bad ways. One thing that tends to
bother me a little bit is I got this phone and it was the best phone and I was proud
of my phone and now it’s not any more, it’s obsolete. They’ve told me it’s obsolete. This
is the number of phones that people have around the world. Look at that tremendous change.
So this obsolescence that’s in our society is really affecting the way that we think
about phones. What happens with phones? What’s in my phone? How is it affecting other people
around the world? So we can look at the lifecycle of a phone and we can follow it. For example,
it has a number of metals in it, minerals; tungsten and gold and tin. Where are those
coming from? Who’s mining these? We call these conflict minerals because they’re mined in
areas with a tremendous amount of conflict and the conflict is being exacerbated by the
need for these phones that I have to throw away next year because it’s obsolete. And
where does this phone go? So we can think about our phones and our need for new phones
and our great technology, but we also have to think about where these things are coming
from and where they’re going and what are they contributing to? When we get rid of our
phones we don’t put them, we don’t throw them away here. We send them other places to developing
countries. We don’t recycle them very well and people try to get the minerals out of
them again. It wreaks havoc on their ecosystem; wreaks havoc on the health of the people that
live there because I had to get a new phone and we have to get a new phone every 2 or
3 years. But the phones have changed economies in tremendous ways. I mean let’s take the
example of China. It’s changed production. Remember China’s fertility dropping and getting
more wealth? But look at this. This is most; in the 1950s, most people lived in the country,
but look at that shift in where they’re moving to. They’re moving to the city. That changes
the family dynamics. It changes the wealth. It changes the structure. This is a rapid
change that China is trying to deal with. But it’s also done some really good things.
In parts of Africa where people are getting phones, it’s really increasing the GDP of
that country. It’s doing a lot. In Bangladesh, Muhammad Yunus started a program where he
would give people these phones that they could sell and they could start these small microbusinesses
and they would bring themselves out of poverty and they would educate their children. This
is why we get that drop in fertility. So now we get to economics. Not my field, but certainly
interesting. When I first started this we always talked about the bricks, 2007 it’s
the emerging markets and we talk about Brazil and Russia and India and China as these up
and comer markets; that’s all they talked about at CSIS, but people have been changing
about that recently. China is having problems with their not growing as fast. Russia is
really tied to oil. One good story that’s happened recently is abject poverty. It’s
a good story because people living on less than a dollar twenty-five a day, that has
been reducing and will continue to reduce as we go forward. There’s still a lot of poor
people in the world but we can look at something like this and think about in places like China
and India how much they’ve changed and how much they could change. We can look at poverty
as not something inevitable but something that can be completely wiped out. But I want
to talk about a topic that I did some research on, that I’m interested in and that’s in the
news constantly and that’s the issue of income and wealth and equality. There’s a lot of
change going on there and we typically see a graph like this. There’s always been rich
people and poor people and middle class, but we’re seeing a change. We’re seeing the people
who have less of, top 10% really growing in their percentage of wealth and the 1% really
growing. This is a change. It’s not that there’s just rich and poor, but the rich are richer
and the poor and the middle class are staying the rather stagnant. Why is that bad thing?
There’s a lot of reasons that’s a bad thing. I’m going to pick one. I’m going to pick the
psychology point of view. This is my area. What happens when a country becomes more and
more unequal? Not poor, unequal? So these Richard Wilkinson wrote a book looking at
measures of inequality in a country and all of these other health and social problems
that the country might have. And he compared that to things like, so he looked at things
like life expectancy, literacy, infant mortality, homicide rate, level of imprisonment, rates
of teenage birth, these are all these kind of social ills that he was measuring. You
can do these with surveys and statistics, mental illness, addiction, social mobility;
this is our ability to start with one class economically and move up, it’s the American
dream, right? That how easy is it for you to move up in social class, some countries
it’s easier than others. And when you take all those measurements and put them on one
side of a graph and take measures of inequality on the other side of the graph you see a wonderful,
disturbing correlation that economic and wealth and inequality has a lot to do with the problems
that you see socially in a community. The U.S. kind of tops out the list there, for
a developed country we have some of the highest inequality. So that brings us to governance,
last one I’m going to talk about. So I might talk about the rise of multinational corporations
and their influence or intergovernmental organizations, those have grown a lot because we are a flattened
world and we need intergovernmental work. If you want to look at something interesting,
a great story, look at the U.N. Development Millennium Goals and the U.N. sustainability
goals. They’ve actually done a lot of good work. They’ve changed a lot of lives around
the world. It’s a really great website to go and peer around at some of the things that
they’re doing. But what about NGOs? That’s gone through a revolutionary change. Nongovernmental
organizations, you know, the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation has given billions of dollars
to reduce poverty and increase sanitation and help with women’s health and education
even more so than other places. I’m kind of a big fan of microlending. Not the kind of
microlending you see in Fresno where it’s kind of predatory microlending, but in places
where you give loans to people at really low interest rates even small loans and Grameen
Bank has loaned to 7 million people in Bangladesh mostly to women. This changes the structure
of the family. It’s a wonderful thing. Seventeen billion dollars they’ve loaned out to people
who are extremely poor and they pay back, they pay back at a rate higher than a normal
bank and that has done a great deal to reduce poverty. One of my favorites is the one I
wrote about a couple of years ago and this is APOPO. This is my favorite, NGO. These
are the HeroRATs. I love HeroRATs. I love animals, animal behavior. Giant African pouched
rat, isn’t that a great looking rat? And they are trained to seek out and find mines. You
know, there’s a 110 million mines buried around the world and they kill people and they kill
animals and they started off with this work in Mozambique. These animals are relatively
easy to train. They’re light so they don’t set off the mines and they’ve cleared millions
of acres in Mozambique; gotten rid of almost 14,000 mines these little creatures with their
handlers and they get out unexploded bombs and they find weapons that aren’t falling
into the hands of children and they’re not exploding and killing people all because of
this NGO had an idea about training rats. Even in Thailand, hero rats are in Thailand;
this animal stepped on a mine back to elephants again and they’ve done a lot of work there
and now they’re going around the world. They even have their own theme song; wish I had
my own theme song.>>Fighting for mankind. HeroRATs, HeroRATs
sniffing outland mines. HeroRATs, HeroRATs armed with tiny claws. HeorRATs, HeroRATs
working for our cause.>>Dr. Martin Shapiro: Aren’t they wonderful?
They work for bananas. They also detect tuberculosis in people, it’s a weird thing. So, what have
we done here at Fresno State? I have to say of all the people that sit on this Global
Challenges Initiative Committee, I get the most support of anybody. It’s a struggle to
get new classes developed to bring this into a university this size, but the Provost and
Dean of Undergraduate study they’ve been extremely supportive and any time I want to do something,
like “Yeah here go and do it, get it done.” It’s really kind of nice compared to other
places. I went to the Smittcamp Honors College in 2008. I said. “I want to teach this class
on global challenges”, they were like “Yeah okay go ahead teach that class.” It’s great.
The first year experience here at Fresno State is where students who come in a freshmen take
classes in a cohort together and the faculty get together in the summer and come up with
assignments and they are biology teachers and math and anthropology, history and they
teach around global challenges and it’s very engaging hopefully for the students and it
keeps them interested. Lisa Anderson in the Anthropology Department, she went to one of
these training sessions that we have at AASCU and she came back and she helped me to develop
a new course, a brand new GE course and she’s been teaching it for a couple of years. This
is INTD-50, critical thinking about global challenges and it’s not housed anywhere, it’s
INTD, interdisciplinary and she has her students do these wonderful projects to make differences
in their community. She engages them. These other two faculty members also went and got
training. We went and had this training for global challenges, Adela and Chris Clark and
they came back and they helped me develop a new course that’s on the books, a GE course;
INTD-177 is Global Challenges and it’s about multicultural international upper division
GE and they take the global challenges and they don’t say what are we doing here in Fresno?
They think about other places in the world and how they are dealing with these global
challenges, get their points of view, read their newspapers on technology and innovation
and trade, economics and conflict. It’s a way to look at another culture through the
lens of these global challenges and their classes are great. They get a lot of great
reviews. I got to say, teaching this class is really rewarding. The students tend to
like this stuff and in all these classes we have students, well try to make that preferable
future they want by being involved in a number of things. These students, they didn’t like
all the plastic so they got all their friends together and they made grocery bags and at
that place they had a water tasting to see if water from the sink is the same taste as
water from a dollar eighty bottle and they can’t tell the difference, this is in Flint,
Michigan. They can’t tell the difference here [brief laughter]. Again, enacting some change.
Anthony in my class, his project was about telling fellow students in dorms about how
to reduce water. We’re in a terrible drought. We got a little rain in December, but we’re
still in a terrible drought. So he’s informing, he’s telling people, he’s giving them information
about how to conserve water. Caitlin came to our class and told us about things I didn’t
know about and these are sanitation pads that these girls in Africa need to stay in school,
to get educated, to have that greater power that they need and so she raised a bunch of
money for this, sent it to these organizations, these NGOs and came to the class and told
us all about it. It was really interesting. So I’m hoping if you’re a student you like
this kind of material, this interrelated material, maybe seek out one of the INTD-50 classes
or 177 classes or maybe send me an email if you’d like and you want to come and talk about
it. I love talking about this stuff. Okay? Thank you. [ Applause ]

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