How will you measure the success of your education? By the awesomeness of your midterms!
Can I first just say that this has been the most memorable, interesting and valuable midterm experience I have ever had. I think I will always remember participating in and learning about the details of the problems in our very own backyard. It was fascinating to see the depth of the issues as well as the breadth of the solutions that are being worked on.
First, the problems that have become so everyday to us really have a lot more to them than meets the eye. There are things that we are faced with every single day (homelessness, education, healthcare, our fellow BYU students and their struggles) that we hardly know anything about. Each of these problems was surprisingly complicated. There are so many influencers and and so many causes. It was enlightening to see each of these problems under a magnifying glass even if it was only just to be made aware of the inner workings and complexities that society faces when taking on these issues. Especially after this activity I look at every problem differently now, trying to understand the bigger picture, the causes, the effects and the nuances.
Second, there is so much good being done that is often overlooked. In each issue that we discussed and analyzed it was clear that there are already people passionately working on the cores of the problems. A big (or small) social problem is like an idea for a business. If you think it up and want to pursue it, there is a good chance that someone else already has! Unlike the competitive world of business, this is actually inspiring because there are other people out there that are trying to make a difference. I believe that so much good will come from collaborating and working with those who are active in making a difference.
Third, there is so much to be done. Many people (like NY Times Columnist David Bornstein) say that our society is on the verge of a major breakthrough. Read this! Social Change’s Age of Enlightenment. We are thinking differently about how to make real impact and really solve problems in the world. There is a growing need to look around us in every situation, every day and see what needs to be better. More and more people are getting involved at all different levels in making changes, but we need to do it better. As we discussed gaps and successes I realized that awareness, knowledge and empathy are probably where the biggest gaps are in our world. The “211 epiphany” in the analysis of Utah Valley healthcare was a microcosm for the entire study of social problems. I feel like so many times, access to information and the ability to just obtain basic knowledge is really at the base of solving every major problem. How many times do we say, “If only I knew this before”. There are many great solutions out there but knowing about them is half the battle.